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The best Texas barbecue


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262 replies to this topic

#31 Tremor

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 12:00 PM

Kent, I've had two people tell me recently that John Mueller's has closed. :shock:

The second person said that there's a sign saying that it will soon be opening as "JB's BBQ" (or something like that). The phone number is disconnected, so I called Information (hoping he had just moved). I got a woman who told me, "No, we're not John Mueller's, but we've been getting lots of calls recently."

I asked his father, Bobby Mueller, what had happened. Bobby said that as far as he knew, John was still open, but "I can't keep track of the boy." (I get the distinct impression they have NOT patched things up.)

I have not heard one word about this, however, on any media. I'm confused. :blink:

Do you know the scoop on this?

#32 Kent Wang

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 05:14 PM

NOOO!!! I will stop by tomorrow to investigate.

#33 Kent Wang

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Posted 10 November 2005 - 06:40 PM

As per Restaurant openings, closings and changes, I checked out John Mueller's today and it's definitely still open.

#34 Tremor

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 07:43 AM

As per Restaurant openings, closings and changes, I checked out John Mueller's today and it's definitely still open.

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Well, that's real good news. Thanks, Kent.

However, these sources of mine are usually really reliable, so now I'm more confused than ever! :sad:

#35 Bill Miller

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 10:59 AM

I just want to clear up any potental confusion in a Bar B Que thread. I'm NOT that Bill Miller. I cook my own brisket and ribs at home--I'm pretty good too.
Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

#36 BigboyDan

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Posted 11 November 2005 - 08:32 PM

I just want to clear up any potental confusion in a Bar B Que thread.  I'm NOT that Bill Miller.  I cook my own brisket and ribs at home--I'm pretty good too.

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That's good; especially since the Bill Miller, founder of the chain of the same name, died years-ago. :smile:

#37 Bill Miller

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 08:25 AM

I just want to clear up any potental confusion in a Bar B Que thread.  I'm NOT that Bill Miller.  I cook my own brisket and ribs at home--I'm pretty good too.

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That's good; especially since the Bill Miller, founder of the chain of the same name, died years-ago. :smile:

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Whew!!! I'm usually not that lucky!
Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

#38 BigboyDan

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 06:16 PM

Official Central Texas BBQ rankings (where I have eaten, of course):

Luling City Market - Luling 4 1/2
Louie Mueller's - Taylor 4 1/2
Rudy Mikeska's - Taylor 4 1/2
Kreuz Market - Lockhart 4 1/2
John Mueller's - Austin (Eastside) 4 1/2
Black's Barbecue - Lockhart 4 1/2
Smitty's - Lockhart 4 1/2
Cooper's Old Time Pit BBQ - Llano 4 1/2
Crosstown BBQ - Elgin 4
House Park Bar-B-Q - Austin (Downtown) 4
Chisholm Trail BBQ - Lockhart 4
Meyer's Elgin Smokehouse - Elgin 4
Southside Market - Elgin 3/12
Ruby's - Austin (North Campus) 3 1/2
Sam's - Austin (Eastside) 3 1/2
Artz Rib House - Austin (Southside) 3 1/2
Gonzales Food Market - Gonzales 3 1/2
Cartwright's BBQ - Cedar Park 3 1/2
The Pit - Austin (Northwest) 3 1/2
Bert's - Austin (West Campus) 3 1/2
Railroad Bar-B-Q - Manchaca 3 1/2
Zimmerhanzel's Bar-B-Que - Smithville 3 1/2
Lewiss BBQ - Austin (Eastside) 3 1/2
Ben's Longbranch BBQ - Austin (Eastside) 3 1/2
Inmans Ranch House Bar-B-Q - Marble Falls 3 1/2
Fuschak's - San Marcos 3 1/2
Willie's BBQ - Austin (Eastside) 3 1/2
City Meat Market - Giddings 3 1/2
Branch Bar-B-Que - Austin (Northside) 3
Laird's BBQ & Catering - Llano 3
Sokkey's - Smithville 3
Chisholm Trail - Spicewood 3
Mann's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que - Austin (Northside) 3
Green Mesquite - Austin (Restaurant Row) 3
Crim's Central Texas Barbeque - Elgin 3
Southwest Market Barbecue - San Marcos 3
Oak Creek - Georgetown 3
Texas Rib Kings - Austin (Northside) 3
Iron Works - Austin (Downtown) 3
Buster's - Austin (Westside) 3
Salt Lick - Driftwood 3
County Line - Austin (Northwest) 3
Jim Bob's - Oak Hill 3
Dusty's - Manor 3
Donn's - Austin (Eastside) 3
Davila's Bar-B-Q - Seguin 3
Ray's BBQ - Austin (Eastside) 3
Benford's BBQ Stand - Hutto 3
Richard Jones - Austin (Southside) 3
Bbq World Headquarters - Austin (Northside) 3
Riley's Bar-B-Q - Blanco 3
Coupland's - Coupland 3
Rj Pitts Texas Road House - Austin (Southwest) 3
Jim Bob's Barbecue - Bee Cave 3
Dan's - Austin (Southside) 3
Frazier's BBQ and Grill - Hutto 3
Hamilton's Pit BBQ - Round Rock 3
Pok E Jos - Austin (Downtown) 3
Skull Creek BBQ - Wimberley 2 1/2
Ted & Garry's Bar-B-Q - Austin (Southside) 2 1/2
Dickey's Barbeque Pit - Round Rock 2 1/2
Vic's - Austin (Southside) 2 1/2
Texas Rib Kings Austin - (Northside) 2 1/2
Opie's Barbecue - Marble Falls 2 1/2
Stubbs' - Austin (Downtown) 2
Bill Miller - Austin (Northside) 2
Round Rock BBQ - Round Rock 2
Rudy's - Austin (Northwest) 2

Edited by BigboyDan, 12 November 2005 - 07:07 PM.


#39 Kerr.

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Posted 12 November 2005 - 08:21 PM

Wow, extremely impressive list Dan!

I've been to only a few of those, but gotta agree that City Mkt in Luling is my favorite also.

#40 Kent Wang

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Posted 13 November 2005 - 03:25 PM

Dale Rice recently reviewed Cooper's.

To be honest, I think this review is not very helpful at all. No shots of the meat cut open, no quantification of the depth of the smoke rings, no description of the rub used. The only thing useful about this review is that it summarized the menu. I could've learned the same thing by just giving Cooper's a call. BBQ is fairly standardized, there are only so many cuts of meat and only one way to cook it, as opposed to the variations in the menu of any two, say, Italian restaurants. The standard restaurant review just does not cut it for BBQ.

Anyway, whether the review was useful or not, I still have Cooper's on my to do list as so many of you regard it highly.

#41 rocketman

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 09:35 PM

I have been to Ruby's and to be honest, everything they do ends up way too dry. Next time you're in Austin, please check out John Mueller's. I introduced one friend of mine that was an ardent Ruby's fan to Mueller's and he was blown away.

Ruby's does make a decent crawfish etouffee, but still not as good -- or as cheap -- as Quality Seafood.

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As I promised, I passed up a trip to Ruby's yesterday to go try John Muellers. I cant say I didnt like the brisket because I really did. It was juicy and smokey and and tasty and looked like Kent's pictures. I can admit that it is as good if not better than Ruby's in a vaccum.

I will say, however, I was less impressed with everything else they had to offer. The service was horrible (it was the day before thanksgiving so ill give them a pass), the sides inedible and the sauce (which I do care about whether or not that makes me less of a real que head) tasted like ketchup to me (even the hot had no bite in my opinion). No pickes and onions that were super super strong (to the point you could hardly eat them.

Environment and frendliness and ease of ordering and service do make a difference in my book. i like the people at Rubys. I like sitting outside. I like being able to walk in the smokehouse and check out the briskets. I love the sauce and the brisket without doubt stands up to JM's. Next time (or perhaps tomorrow) ill be back where i belong.

RM

#42 fifi

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 09:53 AM

I am in your camp, rocketman. Sides and service matter. Goode & Company here in Houston does a good job. The BBQ is decent, sometimes very good, particularly at the original Kirby location but the one on I-10 isn't bad. They really do excell at sides and service. Otto's is the old stand-by here, my grandfather used to pick up BBQ there for a Saturday lunch when I was a little kid. Yes, there are better places in Houston but these are convenient to where I usually am when I am in town.

Last May, on a roadtrip to pick lavender in the hill coutry, we stopped at Luling City Market. I was disappointed. The brisket wasn't tender at all and it needed salt. :blink:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#43 tetsujustin

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 11:35 AM

Dale Rice recently reviewed Cooper's.

To be honest, I think this review is not very helpful at all. No shots of the meat cut open, no quantification of the depth of the smoke rings, no description of the rub used. The only thing useful about this review is that it summarized the menu. I could've learned the same thing by just giving Cooper's a call. BBQ is fairly standardized, there are only so many cuts of meat and only one way to cook it, as opposed to the variations in the menu of any two, say, Italian restaurants. The standard restaurant review just does not cut it for BBQ.

Anyway, whether the review was useful or not, I still have Cooper's on my to do list as so many of you regard it highly.

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I'm thinking you're just expecting too much of a review. After all, reviews are largely for the public that know next to nothing about food... only that it goes in your mouth. Most people don't know and probably don't care anything about a rub, have no idea what a smoke ring is, and will go to a place because the picture in the paper looks good (hence they would rather have a pretty picture than an informative one)

Most of what the major food sections in the US give are a description of the place and atmosphere, a gauge of if the service is decent, a slight overview of the menu, and recommendations of what's good and what's not so good. Some do it in more flowery talk than other (Frank Bruni) some are quite straight forward (Bill Daley), but really, that is the standard of much of what's published. Actually, the person I think that goes most in depth with his reviews is Robb Walsh in Houston (which why I like reading his reviews) If you want something more in depth, I probably wouldn't be browsing food sections of major papers. There's plenty of bbq magazines, food-related magazines, and food websites such as this one and chowhound for you having to be frustrated at what the statesman publishes. If it doesn't help, then don't read it. Just know that it probably brings a lot of the general public to try out new places, promote the good restaurants in Austin and attract new customers to a lot of previously unknown places. If it does that, then it does its job.

Back to the BBQ, I like eating Rudy's in Austin just because the Turkey's good and I have a thing for their most-likey-sysco-from-a-powdered-form banana pudding with not-so-fresh out of the box vanilla cookies.

Whoever said that food professionals only like the good stuff must be out of their mind.

#44 fifi

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 06:16 PM

I have to agree that Robb Walsh does an excellent job with in depth reviews. The good news is that he gets out of Houston from time to time and The Houston Press keeps articles available for a long time, unlike those annoying rags that insist on putting stuff in the archives to try to get you to pay for it. The search engine is pretty good as well so you can check to see if Robb has written up any places you might want to know about.

He has also hosted BBQ tours out of that big festival held in Austin each year. I don't know much about that but a search here may yield a report.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#45 Deacon

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 09:57 PM

1) Williams Smokehouse in Houston (especially for ribs)

2) The Swinging Door in Richmond (surprisingly good)

#46 Kent Wang

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 02:25 AM

Went to County Line today. A friend of mine's car broke down there, so it was a matter of convenience. Had the pork ribs, brisket and sausage platter. All the meat was smothered in a rather ketchup-y sauce. I don't want sauce on my BBQ, but if I had to have it I much pretty John Mueller's or Salt Lick's sauce. Pork ribs were nice and tender. Brisket was tender, but was low on fat and smoke flavor. I'm pretty sure they use gas. Sausage was decent.

Conclusion: If I wanted sauce, I'd rather eat at Salt Lick.

#47 Kevin72

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 10:16 AM

Salt Lick's sauce must be an aquired taste . . . I find it too sweet and gravy-like. I like everything else about it though. Goode Co. used to have really outstanding sauce, I thought. Spicy, vinegary, peppery . . . perfect complement to their meat. Last time I went though, it was part of the big disappointment of that visit. Really seemed toned down and much more the "ketchup" style.

#48 fifi

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 10:48 AM

. . .  Goode Co. used to have really outstanding sauce, I thought.  Spicy, vinegary, peppery . . . perfect complement to their meat.  Last time I went though, it was part of the big disappointment of that visit.  Really seemed toned down and much more the "ketchup" style.

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DRAT! Though I don't use sauce much at all, I did like Goode's because it reminded me of the sauce Otto's used to make when I was a kid. I haven't been in a while and if they changed it I am gonna get a rope!
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#49 Kevin72

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 11:24 AM

This was two years ago that I went, but those who have been since then have made similar observations. Everything seemed to have really backed down on the seasoning. Even those great sides were a little lacking in flavor!

#50 nacho

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 02:28 PM

I have to agree that Robb Walsh does an excellent job with in depth reviews. The good news is that he gets out of Houston from time to time and The Houston Press keeps articles available for a long time, unlike those annoying rags that insist on putting stuff in the archives to try to get you to pay for it. The search engine is pretty good as well so you can check to see if Robb has written up any places you might want to know about.

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Don't forget that Robb Walsh wrote an entire book on Texas BBQ. :biggrin:

#51 fifi

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 02:40 PM

I second the motion on Robb's BBQ book. How could I have neglected to mention it. All you have to do is read the reviews in the Amazon link and you will see why it is an indispensible item for your library shelf, whether you smoke it, eat it, or both.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#52 Tremor

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 03:40 PM

Most people don't know and probably don't care anything about a rub, have no idea what a smoke ring is, and will go to a place because the picture in the paper looks good (hence they would rather have a pretty picture than an informative one)

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Oh, I think most folks 'round these parts know what a smoke ring is. I don't know anyone who really gives much of a d*mn how deep it is, though.

#53 BigboyDan

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 12:22 AM

Heaven's to Betsy: talk of sides and sauce?!?!

Meat. Pickles or Jalapenos. Onion slices. And, beer or soda or iced-tea.

That's it.

Don't waste belly space...

#54 joiei

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 08:21 AM

Most people don't know and probably don't care anything about a rub, have no idea what a smoke ring is, and will go to a place because the picture in the paper looks good (hence they would rather have a pretty picture than an informative one)

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Oh, I think most folks 'round these parts know what a smoke ring is. I don't know anyone who really gives much of a d*mn how deep it is, though.

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And I even pass on the sliced white bread and go straight to the meat. That onion and pickle is what I consider my salad. lol.
It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

#55 Kent Wang

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 09:09 AM

I like to put the sauce into my coleslaw and potato salad -- but only on my second or third trip to that restaurant. First trip is all about the meat.

Salt Lick is also the best restaurant at the AUS airport. I never mind getting to the airport early.

#56 fifi

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 10:55 AM

I like to put the sauce into my coleslaw and potato salad -- but only on my second or third trip to that restaurant. First trip is all about the meat.
. . . . .

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Amazing . . . That is exactly my tactic. I find that coleslaw and potato salad often need the help. Why is that? And . . . OMG . . . Can't anybody make anything other than sweet coleslaw?

Uh . . . I consider pickled jalapeno a vegetable. And, if there is some carrot from an escabeche, so much the better. :raz:
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"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#57 LarsTheo

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 11:16 AM

Has anyone been to Clem Mikeska's in Temple? I'm going to be in Temple the week of Christmas and wondered whether it was worth going to. Although I went to high school with Clem's son, I've never been to their restaurant. Sadly, there are not many restaurants in Temple that are very interesting. I'll be in Austin only briefly.

#58 Kent Wang

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 02:06 AM

Rudy Mikeska's in Taylor.

Posted Image

For reference, Louie Mueller's, right across the street.

Posted Image

The photos are fairly color-accurate. Compared to Louie Mueller's, the color is not as dark, and has less smoke flavor. I had Mikeska's brisket side-by-side with Mueller's and Mueller's is the clear winner. Mikeska's brisket was a lot more lean, but I'm willing to forgive that as cuts can vary a lot day-to-day, but Mueller's greater oak flavor proves that their technique is superior.

Southside Market in Elgin.

Posted Image

Very impressive. Brisket still not as smoky as Mueller's but the pork ribs were excellent. I think I finally understand Elgin sausage. It is a bit bland, but when it's properly cooked the sausages are so juicy there is more than enough flavor from the fat. The casing also has just the right amount of snap.

#59 fifi

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Posted 16 December 2005 - 09:44 PM

Great analysis, Kent. You are right, briskets do seem to vary a lot in fat content IMHO. I am starting to like the look of those Elgin sausages, especially since your description carries them off.

Great picture, too BTW. The butcher paper. The fat in the meat. The grease on the paper. CLASSIC! :biggrin:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#60 planojim

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Posted 21 December 2005 - 09:08 AM

I finally had a chance last week to take a day off of work, travel to Austin, and compare the Austin barbeque troika.

To get a fair sample, a buddy and myself decided to go to Louie Meuller's, Smitty's and Kreutz, and order the same thing at each to share. 1lb of fatty brisket, 1lb of ribs, a 1 sausage ring.

Since we were coming down from Dallas, Louie Muellers in Taylor was the first stop. Great atmosphere. We liked the sample while waiting, reminiscent of my trip to Katz Deli this summer. It was at this time that we first deviated from our plan. Mueller's had 2 types of sausage, regular and jalapeno. In the name of science, we tried them both. The jalapeno was very good. The brisket was good, nicely dark with the right amount of fat. The ribs were decent.

Back on the road towards I-35 and Lockhart....we decided we needed dessert already so we stopped at Roundrock Donuts and got 6 glazed and 6 chocolate glazed. Very yummy indeed. Still warm ever though it was 12:30.

We then proceded to Smitty's. Now this is what a barbeque place is supposed to be. You walk in, and are greated by smoke, a fire, and meat. We got 1 lb of brisket, 1 sausage, and instead of ribs, got a pork chop. This was, by far, the best brisket ever smoked by man. Back char on the outside, a layer of fat beneath that, that is almost liquid, not the tough chewy kind one would associate with a steak. The pork chop was dissappointing. We got an end cut chop, which was a little tough and dry. The sausage tasted decent, but nothing special.

Back north on 183 to Kreutz. By this time we were as full as ticks, but we soldiered on. As a concession, we only ordered 1/2lb of fatty brisket, 1/2lb of ribs and 1 sausage. The brisket cut was actually a little too fatty. I had to peel some of it off so as not to gag. But, that meant I wasn't able to eat the char on the outside, which left off some flavor. The ribs were real good, the sausge again decent, but nothing special.

All in all, it was a fantastic day of barbeque. If I had to rank them, I'd say:

atmosphere: Louie Mueller, Smitty's, Kreutz
brisket: Smitty's, Louie Meuller, Kreutz
ribs/chop: Kreutz, Louie Meuller, Smitty's
sausage: Louie Meuller, Smitty's, Kreutz