Don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s location smack-in-the-middle of West Campus (University of Texas) or the speakeasy-style bar framing the entryway. Yes, you can get an assortment of nice cocktails and leave it at that. But that wouldn’t do Freedmen’s—so named because the building was constructed in 1869 by freed slave George Franklin—the justice it deserves considering the deliciousness of every single menu item. They serve up some of the thickest cuts of brisket around (and the absolute best burnt ends, not too salty and with a crave-worthy crunch), slightly sweet pulled pork and spare ribs, some seriously spicy sausage and an assortment of sides you won’t see anywhere else: horse radish potato salad, grilled cabbage coleslaw, house-made pickles with a jalapeño kick, baked beans infused with brown sugar and Lone Star Beer (now that’s Austin-style), smoked beets, jalapeño German-Texan beer cheese, smoked banana pudding and smoked chocolate mouse. And their homemade bread makes everyone else’s store-bought sliced loaves look shameful. While many local pitmasters can be prickly and secretive, Freedmen’s Evan LeRoy maintains an attitude that holds up to Southern hospitality: “I’m very much not about secrets. I like teaching people and putting it all out there—I think that more BBQ knowledge is better for everybody.” All the meats are slightly spicy, and each side has some sort of authentic smoked element; enjoyment will separate the true Austinites from the wannabes.
2402 San Gabriel St
|Cross street:||at W 24th St|
|Opening hours:||Tue, Wed and Sun 11am-10pm; Thu-Sat, 11am-midnight|