Louie Mueller Barbecue: Taking Brisket Express to Taylor

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Barbecue Texas

Louie Mueller has been a family-run BBQ destination for almost six decades.

At 7:30 AM, I caught American Airlines Flight 1182 from LAX to Austin, or as I like to call it, the Brisket Express. My father and I met at the baggage claim and quickly turned to the most important matter in any trip with a barbecue bent: where to eat first. We already had a lock lined up at The Salt Lick to end our weekend, so we needed an equally formidable launching pad. We decided on Louie Mueller Barbecue, a place that we both enjoyed on previous visits, and a spot that’s been continually praised as one of the best barbecue establishments in the state. Would it still meet our expectations now that we’ve eaten so much high-profile Texas barbecue in the interim?

“A Texas tradition since 1949,” Louie Mueller Barbecue has been ensconced in its current location since 1959. Louie’s son Bobby took over for his father in 1976. Louie passed away in 1992, but Bobby has done wonders to further his father’s legacy. Just last year, Bobby and Trish Mueller received a James Beard Foundation Award in the “America’s Classics” category.

Barbecue Texas

The lengthy dining room and high walls are a by-product of the building’s pre-Depression function as a ladies basketball court. Throughout the years, the edifice also housed a grocery store. The walls are stained with barbecue smoke; as is the local business card collection.

State Flag

You can’t turn around in Texas without spotting another Lone Star. The Texas flag was given a place of honor at Louie Mueller Barbecue, framed and hung on the dining room wall.

Barbecue Menu Texas

Louie Mueller’s makeshift menu appeared just once, on the wall.

Some menu items sounded good, like bone-in rib eye and bone-in pork shoulder steak, but since we only eat Texas ‘cue once a year, we stuck with the Big 3: pork ribs, brisket and sausage. I did allow myself a single beef rib. Bobby and his employee hacked the ribs and sliced the brisket on the well-aged butcher block, then retrieved the sausage links from the smoker. The meats were laid on butcher paper and placed on trays for us to carry to a table of our choice. We chose the airy, screened-in patio, which was added in 1999.

According to Bobby Mueller, meats smoke for 6-8 hours using oak, depending on the size of the cut of meat.

Barbecue Texas

Brisket was nice and juicy, with at least a quarter-inch smoke ring, and a caramelized exterior.

Ribs Texas

Pork ribs were bronzed and peppery, with a luscious chew.

Sausage Texas

Coarse sausage links had a nice kick and were pleasantly greasy, with taut skins.

Rib Texas

An imposing four-inch-thick, smoked-until-black beef rib featured short rib-like meat, but much chewier.

Barbecue Sauce Texas

Basic sauce was watery, and I couldn’t figure out why. Bobby revealed the recipe includes water, tomato, onion, margarine, salt and pepper. Since the meats are so good when unadorned, I didn’t mind.

Mother-in-laws get a bad rap, but Bobby’s mother-in-law supplied him with recipes for the restaurant’s exemplary cole slaw and potato salad when he took over in the ‘70s.

Potato Salad Texas

The scoop of chunky yellow potato salad was terrific, not creamy.

Cole Slaw Texas

Chopped slaw featured a little pepper and some scattered carrots, and since it wasn’t drowned in mayo, maintained its crispness.

Barbecue Sauce Texas

Big bottles of pickled jalapeños and a hot sauce made from vinegar, red pepper and paprika, for spice enthusiasts, were both on the table.

Wood Texas

Out back, we found big piles of oak, future fuel to smoke meats.

Barbecue Texas

A painted Texas flag adorned the side of a massive structure. Texas pride comes in many forms.

According to Texas Monthly, Louie Mueller Barbecue placed in the Top 5 in the state in 2003. After all the barbecue I’ve eaten in Texas over the years, Louie Mueller still rates near the top, with a well-balanced trinity of pork ribs, brisket and sausage.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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