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.
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.
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.
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.