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Step aside, Lockhart. Austin is the new Mecca for Texas BBQ

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#1 jsmeeker

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:26 PM

Just got back from another weekend in the Central Texas area where I once again had a lot of BBQ. 


The lineup


Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, TX

John Mueller Meat Company in Austin, TX

La Barbecue in Austin, TX

Franklin Barbecue in Austin, TX

Mickelthwait Craft Meats in Austin, TX

Kreuz Market, Lockhart, TX



Note that 4 of the 6 spots are in Austin city limits.   There is a very strong link between several of these spots. The Mueller family.  This legendary family of Texas BBQ has great influence.  And it's turning out great BBQ.  With the legend of Louie Mueller and his son Bobby, come Bobby's children John and LeAnn.  John has had his ups and downs.  Worked for his sister at a south 1st Street trailer named JMueller BBQ.  But then there was a blow up. John got fired.  LeAnn pressed on and re-named the join La Barbecue and soldiered on. It's cranking out seriously good BBQ.  John got back on his feet and now has another trailer on the east side of town.  He knows how to cook BBQ, no question.  North of the capitol buliding is Stiles Switch (not visited this trip, but I made it there last year).  The pitmaster there used to work for Louise Mueller in Taylor.  This place takes a slightly different tack.  Not in a trailer. And there is no queing for hours and running out of meat.  But it still makes tasty BBQ, served up with a nice selection of Texas craft brews.


And then there is the new king of Texas BBQ.  A one time employee of John Mueller.  Started with a small little white and aqua trailer parked at an old gas station just off I-35.  There was buzz. People lined up.  A brick and mortar store on 11th St., a short walk from the Capitol building, opened.  More people came.  There were longer lines.  I visted the place and had great BBQ. We were even the first in line on our first visit.  The national press started to get wind of it.  Bon Appetit called it "The best BBQ in America" . Then later included it in the list of "The 20 most important restuarnts in America".  Anthony Bourdain showed up and featured it in his TV show. It made him change his mind about where the best BBQ was to be had.


Is Franklin Barbecue everything people say it is?  In a word, Yes.  Yes it is.  I've visted it three times over three years.  Every time I have been, it's been outstanding.  It's the finest example of Central Texas BBQ there is.  It's brisket cooked in the most perfect way possible.  This most recent visit, I arrived at few minutes past 9:00 AM. There were probablly 30-40 people ahead of us in line.  The place opens at 11:00 AM. We didn't place our order and get our meat until about noon.  Three hours for something that has four ingredients, if you count the smoke. And really, I think you have to. This is BBQ, afterall.  Not roast beef.


Austin is where it's at. Franklin is the best in the state. Close on it's heels is La Barbecue. John Mueller Meat Company is very strong.  Right there, that is three.  Lockhart, the town most famous for BBQ, has three. Has ben that way a long time, but will probably always be just three.  But Austin isn't done.  Stiles Switch does a nice job.  And then there is the newbie in the bunch. Just a few blocks east of Franklin sits Mickelthwait Craft Meats.  Yet another little trailer on a plot of empty lot. Small. Quaint. Not busy at all when we walked there after inhaling a large tray of meat from BBQ.  This place has a lot of potential too. 


Many great spots within a few miles of the dome of the capitol building.  And this may be just the begining.  Like any other type of restaurant, people leave to start there own place. We've already seen it with these places.  I think it will continue.  Can't wait to see what's going on down there this time next year.   Will I feel compelled to drive all the way to Lockhart?  I dunno..  Not sure if I see the need.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

#2 eternal

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:40 PM

I stopped at JMueller and Franklins last time I was in Austin. The line at Franklins was about an hour on a Wednesday for lunch. Not bad and there was almost no line at 2pm when I left. The brisket was delicious - the best I've ever had. I brought home to Seattle a pound. I also tried the sausage and the pulled pork but neither of them were amazing like the brisket. SO SO GOOD.


The next day I went to JMueller and had the beef short ribs. To me, this was truly an epiphany. Black pepper crusted, deeply beefy and smoky decadence. When I got home I immediately started to try and duplicate and while I haven't matched it, I can get something remotely similar with a weber, wood, good beef ribs, lots of pepper. 


I've been thinking about those ribs for awhile. Can't wait to get back.

#3 Jaymes

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Posted 24 April 2013 - 08:10 AM

A great post, Jeff.  Thanks.


Sure wish some of those pitmasters would come to Houston.  They'd make a fortune.  This is a huge city in search of good barbecue.  A search that has, thus far, gone completely unrewarded.

"And you, you're just a stinker."

#4 malarkey

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 09:37 AM

I'm actually surprised they haven't branched out to Houston. I will tell you this: I miss Haven, Feast, Hugo's, Backstreet Cafe, Stella Sola... the spots where I used to spend my evenings in H-town. 

Born Free, Now Expensive

#5 Twyst

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:53 PM

I'm actually surprised they haven't branched out to Houston. I will tell you this: I miss Haven, Feast, Hugo's, Backstreet Cafe, Stella Sola... the spots where I used to spend my evenings in H-town. 

They have more business than they can handle in Austin.   Good BBQ doesn't scale up well like a lot of other things do, they can really only make so much.

#6 SylviaLovegren

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Posted 15 June 2013 - 05:35 AM

Have now drooled all over my computer.