Food Porn: Meyer’s, Louie Mueller

Before we went to the king of all BBQ festivals, we had our own little mini festival after touching down in Austin.

Last year, my personal-pit-master-for-life XFE and I made the pilgrimage to Lockhart for Smitty’s and Black’s. This year, we went to Elgin for sausage and Taylor for everything awesome about BBQ.

We started about 30 minutes drive from the airport with a stop at Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse. We got there right around lunch and the place was hopping, but no line. We bought about a pound of sausage (beef and pork) to share amongst the four of us, since we knew we’d be having a second lunch in about another 30 minutes.

BBQ from Meyer's Elgin

The sausage is, of course, very good. I like a courser sausage more like the kind you get in Lockhart, but this was good as well, just more smoothly processed. Also, I like a bit more snap in my casing. Again, that’s just a personal preference. We didn’t try any sides other than the standard white bread, onions and pickles that comes with it. I was pretty tempted by the banana pudding though. They had two fancy barbecue sauces, both of which were pretty good. I’d give the honey chipotle one a slight edge because of the smoky flavor from the chipotle.

Meyer’s doesn’t serve beer or alcohol, so I loaded up on a childhood favorite, Big Red. From a fountain machine no less. You can’t get this in DC for some reason.

Happy customers at Meyer's Elgin

After refilling our Styrofoam cups and loading back up in the car, we headed north to Taylor to pay our respects at Louie Mueller Barbecue.

XFE and I had Muellers’ at the BBQ festival last year and it was hands down our favorite. It was one of the last spots we visited and even though we were stuffed, we both finished our tasting of brisket and ribs. We loved the thick peppery crust on their brisket and XFE is a beef rib fanatic, so he was very happy. Plus, since the lines at the festival had died down, we were able to just shoot the breeze with the two guys manning the booth (including Wayne Mueller, grandson of Louie), and they were really, really nice guys. We were quite surprised that they didn’t win in any of the categories last year. Redemption was theirs though, and they won People’s Choice for best beef ribs and best sausage this year.

Texas Monthly Barbecue Fest 2011 [Photos: JW Walthall/EATX
Photo: JW Walthall/EATX
As soon as XFE and I left the 2010 festival, we made a plan to make the drive up to Taylor to go to the restaurant. This year, with Matt and Melissa in tow was the year.

It was amazing. You step up on the wooden porch, open the screen door and step back in time. It is a time machine. As your eyes adjust to the darkness of the interior, your nose is overloaded with the smell of smoke. You take in the cavernous room with its blackened walls, including a James Beard Award casually hung behind the coke machine.

Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor

The counter to place your order is about a mile from the door and the line runs straight back. But it moves, so better hop into it. To the right is a bulletin board covered in business cards, each a different shade of smoke-tinge. To the right is another, brighter dining room — a screened in porch with beam rafters and exposed iron farm equipment.

So yeah….the place was long on atmosphere.

Inside Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor

And the food didn’t disappoint either. Of course, we ordered way too much, but what can I say? We ordered a pound of brisket, a selection of their three sausages (original, jalapeno and chipotle), several ginormous 1 pound beef ribs the size of a man’s arm, and a couple of slabs of pork ribs (baby back, but they also have spare ribs). Again, no sides necessary. And they have sauce on the table, but it’s a thin sauce and didn’t look like a sauce I would like, so I skipped it.

The sausage was coarser ground than Meyer’s and de-freaking-licious. I think the jalapeno was the crowd favorite. It was a bit greasy, but that’s what the bread is for. Also: they smoke it, which really brings out the flavor.

BBQ at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor

The beef ribs were very good and flavorful, with that thick peppery crust, although I’m not a fan of beef ribs in general – too fatty for my liking. But these were good, although there was no way I could take a whole one down. It was quite a bit of work and I barely made a dent.

Brisket at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor

The brisket was good – smoky and tender — but not quite as good as we remembered it. The crust wasn’t as pronounced as I had remembered. It was probably an off slice because when we tried it at the festival the next day, we again fell in love all over again. The festival version was moist and delicious.

Also: I’m getting a teeny bit brisket spoiled because XFE makes the best brisket in the whole damn world. We’re talking the kind of brisket you beg for on your birthday good. We’re talking last-meal-on-death-row good. We’re talking willing-to-commit-a-crime-just-to-get-on-death-row-and-request-it-for-your-last-meal good. But Mueller’s will do in a pinch.

The pork ribs were disappointing. I did not like them at all. But again, I’d always try them again, if given the chance. I know how these things can fluctuate day by day.

Chowing down at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor

The counter staff and everyone overall could not have been nicer. Walter Mueller saw Melissa and me taking pictures of everything and came walking out with a large brisket — straight out of the smoker — and asked us if we wanted to take a picture of it.

Brisket at Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor
That’s a damn good looking brisket. And tasty.

Way different than the snooty attitude we have gotten at some restaurants on the picture-taking front. I’ll never understand why you would be offended that someone wanted to take a picture of all your hard work. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Alinea. Walter has it right….he’s proud of what he produces and he’s happy to share it with you. It made a huge impression on me, and he’s got a superfan for life.

Hands down, my new favorite BBQ place in Texas. Go. Bring a cooler. Buy lots. Take it home and hoard it. Oh, and look for thePoeLog business card on the bulletin board (it’s the purple one in the middle there).

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