The best BBQ near Lake Travis can easily beat that ol’ Kansas City slop any day, fight me. The BBQ Lake Travis has to offer is true to Texas form – smoked low and slow, and so good that you technically don’t even need bbq sauce (unlike KC meats which are drowned in sauce because the meat’s so chewy).

Let’s be honest – great BBQ is not hard to come by in Central Texas, but we love the cultural vibe of the Lake area. It’s more laid back and you’re welcomed even if you do look and smell like a day on the water.

In full transparency, most of what you’ll find is on the way to or from Lake Travis, and we’re in serious need of more smokehouses ON the lake, but regardless, here are the six barbecue restaurants in the area that we regularly hit up.

1. Best Dam BBQ Joint

One of the only places that can be considered a genuine LT barbeque spot, the Best Dam BBQ Joint is on Hudson Bend, and just near the Austin Yacht Club. Their ingredients are really really fresh and they mind the details so well – we’d argue it’s some of the best pico de gallo on the lake, but don’t tell our favorite Mexican food places, k?

Just pulling up, you can smell that sweet sweet smoked meat goodness. Their brisket and waffles is mouthwatering, and the chopped brisket sandwich topped with smoked mac and cheese AND bacon is fricken’ incredible. Their pulled pork sandwich paired with their classic Texas potato salad makes for a great post-Lake meal. And did we mention they have brisket quesadillas?

Don’t miss this one, it’s one of our favorites in the entire Texas hill country – Salt Lick is good, but Best Dam’s beef brisket is here to compete, watch out!

2. Smokey J’s Barbeque

You might turn your nose up at a small shack in a gas station parking lot, but you’d miss some of the area’s favorite smoked brisket. And you’d suffer because of that snootiness.

Smokey J’s is a classic that has been around for years. It’s on the way to the lake from Austin, and it’s just a couple of picnic tables. It’s a place you can take your BBQ-smokin’ grandpa and he’d be happy.

We highly recommend you stock up on the makings for chop beef brisket sandwiches, so the bread is separate so it doesn’t get soggy. They’re going to ask if you want sauce, pickles, and onions, and you do – trust us on this one. And if you have a cooler, load up on as many sides as you can fit.

3. Rudy’s

If you felt snooty about the last place, get ready for us to blow your mind. One of the region’s favorite BBQ chains is Rudy’s and it’s a gas station. That serves BBQ. Yup, it’s both and it’s big. If you have a boat and you’re headed out to Lake Travis, you’ll be in good company in this parking lot.

They have great pork ribs and baby back ribs, but we keep it classic with extra moist brisket, potato salad, and when we’re eatin’ healthy, we throw in some smoked chicken. It’s just plain ol’ fashioned good BBQ, and it’s so good that it has already expanded beyond Texas and is why most locals have at least a few 20-oz. Rudy’s cups around the house.

4. Jim’s Smokehouse

If you want food truck smoked meats from someone with an impressive culinary background, Jim’s Smokehouse is your place.

You may think you want a baked potato, but after you have a Hassinator Tator from Jim’s, you’ll never want another boring old baked tater. This thing is scalloped potatoes with fresh pico de gallo, jalapenos, cheddar, and topped with a healthy dose of chopped brisket. This thing is legit a full meal. Their jalapeno cheddar sausage is fantastic, and their black angus brisket is drool-worthy.

Well great, now I want to go to Jim’s today, thanks.

5. It's All Good Lake Travis BBQ Restaurant

This Spicewood gem is a name you’re probably familiar with – their founders often take home gold at BBQ competitions, and it’s been that way for two decades. Of all the nearby BBQ restaurants, we find this one is often a familiar name when folks visit from out of town.

They have a stellar array for meat-lovers, from beef ribs to country turkey and brisket, but you can even get half of a chicken. They also somehow nail deserts, with the homemade seasonal peach cobbler. They take the details seriously, and it’s one of the most consistent flavors in the area – always good, always impressive.

6. Opie’s Barbecue

When you close your eyes and dream of Texas BBQ, Opie’s is what comes to mind. When you pull up, it’s a classic gravel drive and tin roof, and you just know they’ve been smoking racks on racks of meats all day every day. It’s a tiny bit out of the way, located in Spicewood, but purists will want to make the trip.

Moist brisket, sausage (we recommend the jalapeno), smoked chicken, turkey breast, baby back ribs, and pork chops round out their meat offering, and we love ordering up a mixed plate with their tater tot casserole. Toss in a sweet tea, and you’ve got a Texas BBQ dream come true!