Neighborhood joint Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew honors history, serves customers from near and far

Emma FreerCommunity Impact Newspaper
Emma FreerCommunity Impact Newspaper

Emma FreerCommunity Impact Newspaper

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Stiles Switch General Manager Duane Jackson slices brisket behind the counter. It is smoked in oak and coated with black pepper. Emma Freer/Community Impact Newspaper
Image description
Stiles Switch General Manager Duane Jackson, center, stands behind the counter with his staff. He grew up in Tyler, Texas, along with owner Shane Stiles. Emma Freer/Community Impact Newspaper
At the forefront of the retro Violet Crown Shopping Center in North Central Austin is a barbecue joint called Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew. It opened in 2011, but the local restaurant feels much older.

Perhaps it is the Motown music playing on the speakers or the cinderblock interior. Or it may be the nods to local history.

Named for a 19th-century Central Texas railroad station near cattle stock pens in Williamson County called Stiles Switch, as well as for owner Shane Stiles, the restaurant serves meats smoked in oak and coated with black pepper.

“It’s the style of barbecue we grew up on,” General Manager Duane Jackson said.

Jackson said he has known Stiles “for as long as I can remember.”

When Stiles, a native of Taylor, got the idea to open the restaurant, Jackson left his job in the insurance industry to join the business.

“I was like, ‘Take me with you, please,’” Jackson said.

Stiles Switch opened in 2011, when few other barbecue places could be found in North Central Austin.

“I think we’ve established ourselves as one of the mainstays,” Jackson said.•Today, the restaurant serves customers from all over Austin—and beyond. •“We get people from all over the world who come here to eat barbecue,” Jackson said, adding that he can always spot a first-time customer by the wide-eyed look in their eyes.

The most popular items on the menu are the fatty, black pepper-encrusted brisket and the pork ribs, but Jackson said the best thing on the menu is the beef ribs.

During the holiday season, the restaurant also serves off-menu specials during an event called the 12 Smoked Meats of Christmas.

House-made sides, desserts and craft beer on tap are available at Stiles year-round.

Customers can also find Stiles barbecue at The Switch BBQ, which opened in Dripping Springs in 2018 in Belterra Village, located just off of Hwy. 290.

When asked if he ever gets tired of barbecue, Jackson said: “I try. It hasn’t worked yet.”


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