The Smoked Meat Bloody Mary at Lockhart Smokehouse, a true Texas BBQ bar classic. (Photo ©Lockhart Smokehouse)

There are times when you need more than Big Red or Lone Star with barbecue.

We were reminded of that fact of smoked meat life on our recent tour of Houston joints. One stop was Pinkerton’s Barbecue, which has a full bar off its main dining area.

Our favorite barbecue bar remains Lamberts in downtown Austin. But, with Pinkerton’s, there’s now a new challenger.

Bars in barbecue places are somewhat rare in Texas. A lot of joints just offer soft drinks and beer. At a recent stop at Truth Barbecue in Brehnam, there was a cooler out front so people in line could help themselves to free bottled water and Lone Star.

With that, the Posse decided to offer its recommendations for the Top 6 bbq bars when you want something stronger than beer or wine.

Photo of Freedman's Bar in Austin.

Freedman’s Bar in Austin. (Photo ©Tom Fox)

We can’t claim this list to be exhaustive or definitive. For example, we haven’t yet been to Willie’s Joint in Buda, where you can order an “Always on My Mind” (Makers Mark, Pama Liqueur, lime, and splash of soda) with your brisket, ribs, pulled pork and chicken.

And Willie’s bar appears to be fairly popular. It averaged about $55,000 a month in booze sales from February through May, according to state statistics compiled and analyzed by BarMart. The state comptroller’s office tracks joints that have mixed drink licenses.

So, as we offer our picks, please let us know yours.

Top 6 BBQ Bars:

  • Lamberts in Austin
  • Pinkerton’s in Houston
  • Freedmen’s in Austin
  • Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Austin
  • Lockhart Smokehouse in Oak Cliff, Dallas
  • Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue in Tyler

Based on booze sales alone, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q in Austin, with its live music shows, appears to do the most business. Stubb’s averaged about $270,000 a month in liquor sales from January through May of this year, according to state statistics.

Lamberts averaged just over $150,000 a month during the same period; Cooper’s, with a bar downstairs and the Llano Lounge upstairs, about $75,000; Freedmen’s about $55,000; Stanley’s about $37,000; Lockhart Smokehouse about $27,000, and Pinkerton’s, which just got it’s license in December, about $11,000.


Photo of the bar at Lamberts Downtown Barbecue in Austin.

The Posse visits the bar at Lamberts Downtown Barbecue in Austin.

Photo of the bar at Pinkerton's Barbecue in Houston.

The full service bar at Pinkerton’s Barbecue in Houston. (Photo ©Michael Ainsworth/Texas BBQ Posse)

Photo of the bar at Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Austin

The downstairs bar at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in downtown Austin. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Photo of the bar at Lockhart Smokehouse in Dallas.

Lockhart Smokehouse owner Jeff Bergus visits with a customer at the bar in the Dallas location. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Bryon Hobbs

4 years ago

Must try Smokin’ Down South BBQ, Burgers, and more. Located in Stockdale, TX. Also has a nice bar attached to the restaurant called Patyin’ Down South. Live music, awesome bbq, and burgers, along with the coldest beer around. Dont get any better than that!

Austin Top 5 plus Snow's

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