The barbecue “scene” in San Antonio and the surrounding area is real, y’all, and my family couldn’t be happier. Driving around the city, little peeps from the backseat will shout out familiar joints. When asked what they want for dinner, my kids (and husband) will nine times out of ten say brisket and macaroni.
My love of all things barbecue didn’t begin until I was pregnant with my daughter six years ago and developed a deep craving of beef ribs and coleslaw. My husband was delighted to oblige weekly requests. It has been just as frequent since, with an added mouth to feed along the way. My waistline loves this job.
The hardest part about eating at a barbecue joint is deciding where to go. These days, we pick what is easiest for two young children, and by that, the requirement is usually room to run and good mac ‘n’ cheese. There are dozens of options, and plenty we haven’t ventured to yet, but the following five picks are what we love so far and what makes us go back time and time again:
Two Bros. BBQ Market—Two Bros. BBQ makes you feel like you are in the Hill Country, right in the middle of San Antonio. The multiple pits next to the playground waft their smoky aroma goodness throughout the outdoor picnic tables. The menu is large enough to make everyone—be it kids, adults, or dogs—happy, and the restaurant offers a playground and sandbox with tables close by so you can enjoy your meal as you watch your littles run around. Hits: beans, grape Kool-Aid, and do not skip the desserts (the fried strawberry pie is AMAZING).
Two Bros. BBQ Market, 12656 West Ave., San Antonio, TX 78216 | (210) 496-0222
Smoke Shack BBQ—Smoke Shack is our lunch of choice after a grueling morning at the San Antonio Zoo or the Witte museum with two kids. If the weather is nice, we love to sit outside. While the barbecue plates are great, their twists on classic American favorites are the thing to try here. The brisket grilled cheese, Frito pie, and spicy cream corn are simply divine. They might not have been the first to do it, but they are one of the best. Hits: The sandwich menu, mustard barbecue sauce and banana pudding.
Smoke Shack BBQ, 3714 Broadway, San Antonio, TX 78209 | (210) 957-1430
The Granary—Located inside Pearl, The Granary is best for business lunches or date night. It boasts barbecue as well as seasonal plates and daily specials that will please more adventurous eaters. The difference between The Granary and other barbecue restaurants is the dinner menu, which offers something for even non-meat-eating friends. If barbecue could be called upscale, this would be it. My kids are not great sitters, which is why I don’t usually bring them here, but luckily my husband is. He is also great at ordering things like Korean barbecue with kimchi and letting me pick off his plate. Hits: Tuesday’s lunch special Cuban, sweet ‘n’ spicy collard greens, the fatty brisket, and the adult beverage menu.
The Granary, 602 Avenue A, San Antonio, TX 78215 | (210) 228-0124
B-Daddy’s—Located in Old Town Helotes, near Floore’s Country Store, B-Daddy’s is our local favorite. It is a popular spot, and weekends often sell out, especially if there is a big country act next door. We love the playground and outside area to unleash the kids and relax with cold beverages. I take my kids there solo and don’t have to worry about chasing them before they run into the street or parking lot. The lunch plates are large enough to share, but be sure to order an extra side of mac ‘n’ cheese, because it is the best in town. Hits: Loaded baked potato, jalapeño sausage, smoked chicken leg quarters, moist brisket, jalapeño sausage, and mac ‘n’ cheese.
B-Daddy’s, 14436 Old Bandera Rd., Helotes, TX 78023 | (210) 275-9995
Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q®—The Rudy’s in Leon Springs was the only barbecue restaurant I had local while growing up. The original location hasn’t changed in that time. Brisket, sausage, ribs, and turkey covered in their signature spicy sauce is a classic taste, and it’s still great. The multiple places to sit and eat, combined with a vast array of drinks in the cooler (kid-friendly) and the history literally written on the wooded posts outside, brings me back in time. The other locations are true to the food as well, and all are worth a visit. Hits: turkey, creamed corn, peach cobbler, and their signature barbecue sauces.
Rudy’s Country Store & Bar-B-Q, four locations in the San Antonio area: Leon Springs—24152 IH-10 W., San Antonio, TX 78257 | (210) 698-2141; Selma—15560 I-35 North, Selma, TX 78154 | (210) 653-7839; San Antonio—10623 Westover Hills Blvd., San Antonio, TX 78251 | (210) 520-5552; New Braunfels—844 Loop 337, New Braunfels, TX 78130 | (830) 609-3337
Worth the drive: A short drive north up I-35 brings you to Lockhart, Texas, the barbecue capital of Texas, but it could be named the barbecue capital of the nation. Combined with cute little country charm and true Texas flair, the town of Lockhart is a hidden gem where the barbecue is plentiful. Literally any barbecue option in this quaint Texas town will leave your mouth watering.