Jeff Allen, executive director of the National Barbecue Association, which hosted its annual conference in San Marcos in March, said he considers the differences between barbecue styles—such as sauce or no sauce, focus on chicken or focus on sausage—as points of pride.

The following barbecue guide highlights a few of the region’s many barbecue restaurants, each worthy of celebration—and maybe a visit.

Baja BBQ Shack

In addition to barbecue classics like brisket and turkey, Baja BBQ Shack offers seafood favorites such as ceviche, fish and shrimp tacos and, on Fridays, all-you-can-eat catfish. Assistant manager Hannah Perry said the restaurant is a popular stop for boaters on Canyon Lake. 280 Marina Drive, Canyon Lake. 830-935-3122

Black's Barbecue

One of Lockhart’s esteemed barbecue institutions, Black’s Barbecue has been around for 82 years. The restaurant makes all four of its sausage varieties in-house. Kent Black, the son of owners Edgar and Norma Jean Black, is planning to open a similar restaurant in San Marcos this summer. The restaurant’s giant beef rib has become a customer favorite. 215 N. Main St., Lockhart, 512-398-2712

Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que

Floyd Wilhelm said he has been serving up ribs, brisket and sausage at Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que in the Barbecue Capital of Texas for 35 years. Wilhelm said his restaurant offers fare at more affordable rates than his famed competitors in town. Patrons can also select from a variety of side dishes and salad bar items. 1323 S. Colorado St., Lockhart. 512-398-6027

Dickey's Barbecue Pit

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Manager Sharon Iacovetto said the restaurant’s rib plate and brisket plate are the two most popular items on the menu. The brisket is smoked for 14 hours before being served, she said. The restaurant also serves sausage, turkey, chicken, pulled pork and a variety of side dishes. 5695 Kyle Parkway, Ste. 100, Kyle. 512-268-3200

Fuschak's Pit Bar-B-Q

Opened in 1966, Fuschak’s Pit Bar-B-Q holds the distinction as the oldest barbecue restaurant in San Marcos and the first barbecue restaurant to serve fajitas. The brisket is smoked for 20 hours over oak and hickory wood. The restaurant’s buffet is open from 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday through Friday and includes three meats, sides and desserts. 1701 S. I-35, San Marcos, 512-353-2712

Hays Co. BBQ

Hays Co. BBQ’s owners Michael and Asenette Hernandez relocated their business from Hunter Road to a location off I-35 in January. The new location has the same brisket, sausage, ribs, turkey, pork chops and chicken that first earned the restaurant a spot on the Texas Monthly Top 50 barbecue restaurants list. The restaurant also features live music, a children’s play area and a beer bus. 1612 S. I-35, San Marcos. 512-392-6000

Kent Black's Barbecue

Kent Black’s Barbecue, an offshoot of the successful Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, is planning to open in June, owner Kent Black said. The restaurant plans to offer the same recipes and barbecue style as its Lockhart forebear, he said. Additionally the restaurant plans to have a full bar and host live music. 500 Hull St., San Marcos. 512-565-9283

Kreuz Market

Kreuz Market’s origins date back to 1900. These days the restaurant and market is one of Lockhart’s biggest barbecue draws. Named one of Texas Monthly’s top 50 barbecue joints, Kreuz serves beef brisket, pork ribs, pork chops and boneless turkey breast but is best known for its sausage, which is offered for customers dining in or on wholesale. 619 N. Colorado St., Lockhart. 512-398-2361

Milt's Pit BBQ

Milt’s Pit BBQ offers barbecue, live music and homemade sides on Center Street in Kyle. The restaurant recently added burgers to its menu, and so far the Anita Chop Burger—which includes chopped beef and coleslaw on a bun—has been one of the big hits. The restaurant also serves a barbecue Frito pie with beans, chopped brisket, Fritos, onions, jalapeños and cheese. 208 W. Center St., Kyle. 512-268-4734

Miss Mae's BBQ

Miss Mae’s BBQ’s top sellers fall in line with most Central Texas barbecue establishments, as brisket and sausage are two of its most popular items, Manager Theresa Goodnight said. But the restaurant, going on its 16th year of business, is also known throughout the Wimberley community for its “blue” plates, daily lunch specials that have run the gamut from hamburgers to red beans and rice. 419 FM 2325, Wimberley. 512-847-9808

Nutter Buster BBQ & Comfort

Lindsey Nutter and Buster Rauschuber serve most of their barbecue in sandwich form. The trailer, which is usually only open on weekends, serves grilled cheese sandwiches with pulled pork or brisket. The trailer smokes its brisket for 12–15 hours before serving it, Nutter said. Nutter also recommended the trailer’s fried mac and cheese and sweet potato fries. 1705 W. FM 1626, Manchaca. 512-903-9774

The Salt Lick

Sitting on 500 acres and surrounded by Hill Country landscape, The Salt Lick’s success is due to its food and customer service, management said. The most popular menu item is the Family Style, which includes all the brisket, ribs, sausage, pickles, onions, cole slaw, potato salad and bread one can eat, manager Will Jones said. 18300 FM 1826, Driftwood. 512-858-4959

San Marcos BBQ

San Marcos BBQ is the newest kid on the block in the college town’s budding barbecue scene. Justin Pearson earned his chops working for his grandfather, Floyd Wilhelm, at Lockhart’s Chisholm Trail Bar-B-Que. The restaurant and caterer serves traditional Central Texas barbecue, seasoned days in advanced and smoked for at least 22 hours. 2601 Hunter Road, San Marcos. 512-938-1019

Shugabee's Texas Barbecue

The homemade-tortilla-wrapped barbecue helpings served at Shugabee’s Texas Barbecue, such as the all-natural Creekstone brisket and smoked pork, are served with sauces made in-house. Patrons of the food truck often order a spicy side of jalapeño potato salad or finish off a meal with banana pudding, owner Vic Garcia said. 190 S. FM 1626, Buda. 512-749-6340

Smitty's Market

Don’t let the age fool you. Having been open only 15 years, Smitty’s Market only does things the traditional Lockhart way—post oak–smoked. Nina and Jim Sells opened in the former location of Kreuz Market and have been carrying the torch ever since. Sausage, ribs and brisket form the trifecta around which the restaurant is centered. 208 S. Commerce St., Lockhart. 512-398-9344.

Smoked Out Barbecue

Brandon Bibeau left the corporate world about a year ago to open his chopped barbecue sandwich food trailer, Smoked Out Barbecue. Bibeau’s mesquite-smoked meats are chopped and infused with a homemade orange soda–based barbecue sauce. Sides include seasoned waffle fries and deep-fried macaroni and cheese bites. The Hitch: A Mobile Eatery, 312 E. Hopkins St., San Marcos.

Smoke'n Hops

Smoke’n Hops’ most popular barbecue items are its brisket and ribs, owner Lloyd Lee said. The brisket is also featured in starters such as queso and jalapeño poppers. Among the 23 taps are Smoke’n Hops’ house beers: Canyon Pale Ale, Smoke’n Blonde Ale, Whirlaway IPA and Fitzhugh Porter, which can be imbibed indoors or on the oak tree–shaded deck. 3799 US 290, Dripping Springs. 512-655-3069

Willie's Joint

Greg Henry is planning to open Willie’s Joint in late May or early June, he said. The restaurant will feature barbecue sandwiches, a variety of sides and a full bar. Henry said the restaurant is also planning to have homemade ice cream on the menu. 824 Main St., Buda. 512-295-0483