Friday I’m In Love: Texas BBQ

A four-day brisket binge deep in the heart of Texas!

I’ve been to Austin quite a few times. And every time, I think about how awesome it would be to go on a BBQ tour through the small towns of Texas. One day, it’s happening. I’ll probably drag some other gluttonous friends along and we’ll hit Snow’s and Kreuz Market and all the others.

A few months ago, though, when my wife said that we should take a long weekend trip to Austin, I started making a list of things to do and ended up with 20 BBQ spots, three taco spots, and Zilker Park.

I’m sad to report that I couldn’t handle 20 BBQ meals in four days. But, I finally made it to Franklin. And my love of Texas BBQ (especially brisket) was rejuvenated. If you want the Cliff’s Notes, here’s an Instagram story of the trip:

Day One: Franklin BBQ

I’ve always avoided the lines at Franklin. Mostly because I feel like you can get really great BBQ in Austin without waiting in line at all. But, once in a while, you have to see what all the fuss is about. So, we got in line at 11:30am and 90 minutes later, we were feasting on what has been called the best BBQ in the country. And, well, it was fantastic.

The line might have something to do with it. If you’re lucky, you get to wait next to a local who pulled up in their F350. Or, if you’re us, you spend 90 minutes next to some software conference attendees who are bitterly hung over but still wanting to talk about how “pumped” they are to be away from home so they can “party” and “go hard.” Good times.

Brisket: 10/10
Ribs: 8/10
Sausage: 8/10
Sides: 8/10 (beans 10/10)

The start of the line, the end of the line.
Before and after.
My stupid, fat face telling you all you need to know.

Day Two: Louie Mueller Barbecue

This was a big one for me. Louie Mueller BBQ is in Taylor, roughly an hour northeast of Austin. It’s been around forever and has been passed down through three generations. I had to negotiate with my wife—if she’d let me stop at Louie Mueller, I’d be cheerful about spending the rest of the day at Chip and Joanna’s MegaMart in Waco.

She loved every minute at the Magnolia Center For Texans With Money, but I still think I got the better end of the deal.

Louie Mueller was legit. The walls and ceiling are stained black from more than 50 years of smoke. We stood in a (relatively short) line next to a local who’d been buying Friday lunch for the men in her life for 45 years. She recommended the potato salad. We listened.

Apparently, the thing to get at Louie Mueller is a beef rib. They’re Flinstonian, weighing in a more than 2lbs (and about $50) a piece. We skipped the beef rib and I don’t really regret it. The brisket was every bit as good as Franklin. And they print the recipe on their t-shirts: 9 parts pepper, 1 part salt.

Brisket: 10/10
Turkey: 9/10
Sausage: 8/10
Pork Sliders: 10/10
Sides: 7/10
Atmosphere: 12/10

Atmosphere: Untouchable.
Before and after.

Day Three: Rudy’s BBQ

I’m not going to say much about Rudy’s, because if you know… you know. And if you don’t know, then I probably can’t convince you.

It’s a chain. And it’s still amazing. My cousin Rob introduced me to this place more than a decade ago and it’s always a must-visit. There’s rarely a line. The extra-moist brisket is to die for. The cream corn is unlike anything I’ve ever eaten in my life. And the banana pudding would be worth the trip alone.

Rudy’s never finds its way onto the prestigious Texas BBQ Top 50 list, but that’s kind of why I love it. Also, they have the most amazing automatic handwashing stations. Like a dishwasher for your hands. Beautiful.

Brisket: 9/10
Turkey: 8/10
Sausage: 7/10
Sides: 11/10
Handwashing Station: 15/10

I love this place to an unhealthy degree.

Day Four: La Barbecue

We stopped at La Barbecue on day three, but the line was too long so we quickly drove to Rudy’s. But coming that close really just pushed me to make it back on our last day in Austin.

Of all the places I’ve been, this is as close as you’ll find to hipster BBQ. It shares a space with a Quickie Pickie, a sort of upscale convenience/liquor store and it’s obviously targeting a slightly different audience than what you’ll find at Rudy’s or Louie Mueller. All that said, this place was great. We went late in the day to avoid a line, so they were out of quite a few things, but they still had brisket.

At this point, we’d eaten BBQ three days in a row (alternating meals with tacos and fried chicken). I was concerned about my health. A few of my friends had gone ahead and put the local cardiac units on notice. So we kept it light, just 1/2lb of brisket, 1/4lb of pulled pork, potato salad, and a pulled pork sandwich (also, a Diet Coke because health and wellness). One great difference-maker for La Barbecue—potato rolls for their sandwiches and potato bread instead of the classic white bread. I love the white bread, but the potato bread was a far superior complement to the meat, sauce, and housemade (surprisingly spicy) pickles.

Brisket: 9/10
Pulled Pork: 9/10
Sides: 8/10
Bread: 9/10

I was almost too stuffed to take pictures, but I managed.

For anyone worried about either my physical or mental health, I don’t blame you. You have every right to question my sanity. But I have zero regrets—even if it means spending double-time on the exercise bike in the garage to make up for eating all my feelings.

Every Friday I share something I love. Usually, it’s a new infatuation. Occasionally, it’s something else. We’ll see how it goes.