Marcus Samuelsson's Top Picks For BBQ In Texas

For Marcus Samuelsson, 2023 has been a year of new beginnings. The celebrity chef opened Metropolis in Manhattan, New York, the eponymous Marcus Bar & Grille in Atlanta, Georgia, and still found time to curate the inaugural Honeyland Festival in Sugar Land, Texas. The weekend-long event highlighted Black-owned food and drink leaders across America, offering mouthwatering fare from culinary newcomers such as Cranky Granny's Sweet Rolls to Texas institutions like Trill Burgers. Sponsored by Pepsi Dig In, the gathering also gave guests the chance to dine alongside artist Kelis, catch shows by Summer Walker and Mary J. Blige, and more. "To do a big event like this, you need the talent, the food, and the beverages, but you also need corporate America to see you," says Samuelsson. "And what Pepsi Dig has done here [at Honeyland] — they've really seen us."

Though barbecue was on the menu at Honeyland, courtesy of vendors like Smoke Stacks House of BBQ, we couldn't help but ask Samuelsson for BBQ restaurant recommendations in Texas. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, the renowned chef nominated two picks for the best BBQ restaurants in the Lone Star State, with both hailing from Austin, Texas. 

The two Texan BBQ spots Marcus Samuelsson loves

While Marcus Samuelsson tells Tasting Table that he has many favorite barbecue spots across Texas, he noted two locations in particular. "I love la Barbecue in Austin," he says. "Of course, I love Franklin Barbecue [in Austin] as well." It's easy to see why Samuelsson is a fan of la Barbecue. Owned and operated by the duo LeAnn Mueller and Alison Clem, the popular stop pays tribute to Mueller's father, 2006 James Beard Award winner and celebrated pitmaster, Bobby Mueller. At la Barbecue, meats are cooked "low and slow" — a departure from the senior Mueller's signature style — but the results speak for themselves. The locally sourced, grass-fed beef sets la Barbecue's menu apart from the competition, and its guests insist that it's well worth any wait.

Samuelsson's second pick, Franklin Barbecue, is another must-try for barbecue fans visiting Austin. The eatery is a collaboration between Aaron and Stacy Franklin, who got their start serving food from a trailer on the Texas interstate before opening a cozy brick-and-mortar location. Lengthy lines aren't an unusual sight outside the blue and white building, thanks to slow-cooked favorites like brisket, pork spare ribs, and jalapeno cheddar sausage. Like Bobby Mueller, founder Aaron Franklin has earned a James Beard Award – and Samuelsson isn't the only celebrity who has frequented the eatery. According to Franklin Barbecue, the late Anthony Bourdain even counted himself a fan.