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San Antonio barbecue is ever-evolving but it has deep roots, as evidenced by the old-school brick pits that are still operational around the city. Good tortillas aren’t hard to come by here, and neither is excellent smoked chicken. We have our favorites, of course. Texas Monthly recently published a list of what we consider the top fifty barbecue joints in Texas and fifty more honorable mentions, but our recommendations don’t stop there. You can get a great meal at any one of these San Antonio joints.
In the city of San Antonio
2M Smokehouse (Top 50)
This barbecue joint quickly became the best in San Antonio after it opened in 2016, and it’s still the best. The sliced brisket and house-made sausages are unparalleled in the city, and taste even better inside the fresh tortillas. The pickled items—like nopales and serranos—and the cheesecakes and tarts made by Grecia Ramos are not to be missed. 2731 S. WW White Rd, 210-885-9352
Big Bib BBQ
It’s hard to choose between the sweet baby back ribs and the tender rib tips, so get them both. A side of the decadent candied sweet potato casserole could double as dessert thanks to the crunchy sugar topping. But the best side is the fried catfish filet. The $7 price might seem steep, but it’s a big dish. It comes steaming hot because each filet is fried when it’s ordered. 104 Lanark Dr, 210-654-8400
Curry Boys BBQ
Take Andrew Samia’s smoked meats from South BBQ and pair them with the curries of co-owners Andrew Ho and Sean Wen and you’ve got Curry Boys BBQ. The most popular dish is the Brisket Smoke Show, combining sliced brisket with green curry and rice, but the panang curry might be the best. It features smoked sausage, turmeric-heavy yellow curry, and smoked chicken thighs. 2334 N. St. Mary’s, 210-320-0555
Photograph by Daniel Vaughn
Photograph by Daniel Vaughn
This restaurant opens early so you can get the famous smoked brisket taco with eggs, but the brisket is better at lunchtime, when it’s topped with guacamole in a fluffy flour tortilla. The cooks also make a mean smoked pork taco. Try one of our taco editor’s favorites, the pork chop taco, which comes with bones and all. 842 Fredericksburg Rd, 210-735-5686
Mary Ann’s Pig Stand
It’s hard to describe the Pig Stand as a barbecue joint. The menu reads more like a diner’s, but the chain that began a century ago in Dallas looms large in any discussion of Texas barbecue history. This is the last one operating, and you can still get the famous pig sandwich while playing oldies on the jukebox. 1508 Broadway, 210-222-9923
Once called Bob and Bob’s Smokehouse, this location has been a San Antonio stalwart for decades. The old brick pit is still churning out tender mesquite-smoked ribs and chicken. It’s one of the few joints left in the state where you can find smoked lamb ribs. 5145 Fredericksburg Rd, 210-340-5039
Pinkerton’s Barbecue (Top 50)
The original Houston location is great, but Grant Pinkerton really outdid himself with this beautiful new spot that overlooks Legacy Park in downtown San Antonio. The sweet “candy paint” ribs are a big draw, as is the Prime-grade smoked brisket. Duck and sausage jambalaya is a must-order. Finish up with the smoked bread pudding. 107 W. Houston, 210-983-0088
Smoke Shack (Honorable Mention)
This joint is famous for its brisket grilled cheese, which is stuffed with just the right amount of chopped beef and melted American cheese. The house-made smoked sausage and chicken quarters are also standouts, as are sides like fried okra and french fries. Try the airport location too, which is right across from the security gate. 3714 Broadway, 210-957-1430
South BBQ & Kitchen (Honorable Mention)
The sliced brisket, pork ribs, and sausage are always solid here, but once you’ve had the barbecue tacos on fresh flour tortillas, it’s hard to go back. A cold green bean and tomato salad is as refreshing as it is unusual, and the rest of the sides are just as impeccably made. Don’t miss extras like pickled, roasted jalapeños and pit-cooked green onions. You can also find this menu and a fantastic burger at Weathered Souls Brewing. 2011 Mission Rd, 210-437-0070
The Barbecue Station
The father-son team of Bobby and Stewart Peacock keeps this gem humming thirty years after its debut. The baby back ribs and Prime brisket make a great combo, and get there early for the excellent smoked chicken quarters. The Filler Up Tater, a substantial baked potato stuffed with chopped brisket and all the fixin’s, might be the best value in Texas barbecue. 1610 Northeast I-410 Loop, 210-824-9191
Two Bros. BBQ Market
Add a smoked chicken thigh to your order even if you’re just here for the brisket or the cherry-glazed baby back ribs. (The same ribs are glazed with peach at sister joint Alamo BBQ Co., which is also worth a visit.) The cheesy chop, with chopped brisket and mac and cheese in a cup, is a popular choice. Or you can get your cheese deep-fried with the aptly named mozzarella logs. Save room for the fried strawberry pie for dessert. 12656 West Ave, 210-496-0222
Windmill Ice House
As the name suggests, look for the towering windmill out front. Barbecue basics like brisket, ribs, and sausage are all satisfying here, but the smoked chicken might be the best. Sides like collard greens and pinto beans are homey, but the corn pudding has a little more cheflike flair with a sweet, nutmeg-heavy béchamel. 2769 Nacogdoches Rd, 210-714-0630
An array of barbecue cuts and sides from Burnt Bean Co. in Seguin.
Burnt Bean Co. in Seguin (Top 10)
The joint has brought new life to the downtown square in Seguin. Folks stand in line waiting for a taste of the flawlessly smoked brisket, house-made sausages bursting with juice, and an array of scratch-made sides nearly peerless in Texas barbecue. Daily specials include pork steaks, pork chops, and beef ribs, or wait until Sunday for breakfast items like brisket huevos rancheros. 108 S. Austin, 830-609-7189
B-Daddy’s BBQ in Helotes
If you can’t wait until Saturday, when the smoked beef ribs are on the menu, then the tender Prime brisket is great consolation prize. Also try the succulent smoked turkey and sweet tea–glazed pork ribs. The joint keeps things interesting with sides like jalapeño cream corn, chipotle coleslaw, and green beans in a broth you’ll want to drink. 14436 Old Bandera Rd, 210-275-9995
Black Board BBQ in Sisterdale
Chef Jake Gandolfo brings the smoke to all his meats, including the brisket burnt ends and a house-made Italian sausage. You could eat well just on sides like hearty mac and cheese or corn maque choux topped with fried brussels sprouts. If you’ve stuffed yourself before dessert, bring home a slice of the carrot cake with cream cheese icing. 1123 Sisterdale Rd, 830-324-6858
Davila’s BBQ in Seguin
This joint was built on sausage, which is why the ring-shaped beef links are still so popular. Explore the rest of the mesquite-smoked menu, especially the lamb ribs and chicken wings, and get a fried catfish filet on the side for good measure. If you’re lucky, Adrian Davila will give you a tour of the unique lazy Susan–style pits. 418 W. Kingsbury, 830-379-5566
Smoked beef sausages hanging at Davila’s BBQ in Seguin.
Nik’s Not Normal in Canyon Lake
The lake is a bit of haul from San Antonio, but it’s well worth the drive. The best option among the myriad joints in town is Nik’s Not Normal, which is housed in a colorful food truck. It would be hard to call the barbecue abnormal, but the sliced brisket is admirable, the smoked turkey is juicy, and the sausage is made nearby in New Braunfels. 9941 FM 2673, 832-869-1777
Wiatrek’s Meat Market in Poth
This old-school, meat market–style barbecue is served on Saturdays starting around 9 a.m., and it’s usually gone by noon. The pit next to the meat market is full of beef cuts like seven bone steak, beef ribs, ribeyes, and brisket, and you’re encouraged to pick out exactly what you want. Grab a link of house-made sausage too, and enjoy a picnic on your trunk or tailgate. 912 N. Storts, 830-484-2838
Getting the week started with barbecue can be a challenge with so many joints closed. A few great options in San Antonio are open on Mondays, but none are in our Top 50. Smoke Shack is the sole Monday option from our honorable mentions list. As for our other favorites, the Barbecue Station and Two Bros. BBQ Market are great Monday destinations.
San Antonio is where white bread’s dominance gives way to tortillas. They’re available on the side for DIY tacos from most of the joints on this list, but what if you want your tacos already constructed? 2M Smokehouse offers a barbecue taco special every Thursday, and smoked barbacoa is available on the first Sunday of every month. The house-made brisket fat tortillas are stuffed with brisket and guacamole or pulled pork and smoked salsa at South BBQ & Kitchen. The taco options at Garcia’s number in the dozens, but focus on the smoked brisket and guacamole taco. In Seguin, the Sunday breakfast menu at Burnt Bean Co. features barbacoa, brisket, and mollejas tacos. Across town, Davila’s BBQ has lamb barbacoa tacos every day it’s open. You’ll get crispy tacos filled with chopped brisket or pulled pork at B-Daddy’s in Helotes.
Wet Your Whistle
Sometimes you’d like something stronger than iced tea or Dr Pepper with your barbecue, and these joints can help. Cocktails, wine, and craft beer can be had at the full bar inside Pinkerton’s Barbecue. Two Bros. BBQ Market carries a variety of bottled and canned beer, including many Texas labels, while its sister restaurant Alamo BBQ has wine, beer, and signature cocktails. With a name like Windmill Ice House it’s no surprise that it has many beer and wine options. Bandit BBQ offers wine and an impressive line up of beers, including many local options. Tubs of icy bottled beers can be found just inside the door at the Barbecue Station. Davila’s BBQ in Seguin carries a few major labels of bottled beer, while B-Daddy’s in Helotes has a bit more variety, and includes ciders. Black Board BBQ in Sisterdale carries a few bottles of the locally produced Sister Creek Vineyards wine along with bottled beer.
Barbecue is associated more with lunch than dinner, mainly because so many joints sell the meat they smoke as quickly as possible. That means many of the best spots will be sold out by early or midafternoon, but plenty are open late—or at least late for barbecue. Two Bros. BBQ Market is open until at least 8 p.m., and an hour later on Friday and Saturday. Smoke Shack BBQ is open until 9 p.m. daily except Sunday. Alamo BBQ, Curry Boys BBQ, and Windmill Ice House all stay open until 9 every night they’re open. South BBQ closes up early, but the kitchen inside Weathered Souls Brewing serves until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Pinkerton’s closes at 9 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and stays open an hour later Thursday through Saturday. Mary Ann’s Pig Stand remains open until 10 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Davila’s BBQ in Seguin is open every night until 8 p.m., and Black Board BBQ stays open until 9 p.m. on Friday.