Nestled into a grove of food trucks and shade trees on the northeast corner of Cesar Chavez and Brushy St. in Austin, Texas, La Barbecue offers some of the best smoked meats in Texas. LeAnn Mueller (granddaughter of Louie Mueller of Taylor, Texas), opened up the food truck originally with her brother, John Mueller, under the name JMueller BBQ. After a split between the siblings, LeAnn renamed the venture to “La” (short for LeAnn) Barbecue, and hired John Lewis of Franklin BBQ. John revamped the menu and the pit, but has since left for South Carolina and a new business venture. However, his recipes and pit are still bringing people from all over Austin and the state of Texas to taste his work.
La Barbecue has three trailers on the site, two containing massive pits and one that sells the goods. A peak inside one of the smoker trailers shows staff expertly trimming and applying rub to briskets.
The menu, written daily on butcher paper posted on a large board, is updated throughout the afternoon as the meats sell out. On this particular day, the author received the two very last pork ribs, which was promptly marked off the menu board.
On weekends and special occasions, patrons are pampered with a keg of free beer as they sit on picnic tables under the shade trees and tents, feasting like kings of yore.
It is a fun atmosphere, fostering social interaction amongst the guests, many of whom come from out of town. La Barbecue is no longer the “locals’ haunt”, but has gained notoriety to bring in barbecue tourists, which has in turn lengthened the wait times.
John Lewis prepares his briskets with a wet rub of pickle juice and hot dog mustard, before applying the salt, pepper and garlic powder dry rub. As any good chef will tell you, making great food is not just about preparation, but the quality of the ingredients. In this case, La Barbecue uses USDA Prime beef brisket, which is nearly unheard of in the industry.
The result is shockingly good. The look and feel of the brisket is unlike Black’s, or Franklin BBQ, in that the brisket does not just devolve into a crumbling (delicious) mess of meat, but maintains its integrity and shape, having a drier look to it. But make no mistake, the meat pulls apart with ease, and is delectably tender. The brisket at La Barbecue was like a perfectly cooked, pepper-crusted filet mignon – just one that you eat with your fingers! It isn’t just delicious, it is succulent, indulgent, and causes you to question every food choice from that day forward. The perfectly tender brisket pops with peppery flavor – this is what brisket should be!
Perfectly rendered fat – beautiful smoke ring – layers of flavorful bark – near perfection!
The Pork Ribs
Stunning! Simply fabulous. Sure, the ribs are something of a wet mess, just oozing with juices, so if you are a fan of dry-ribs, this may be too messy for you. If that’s the case, then be warned, the ribs from La Barbecue and Franklin BBQ are two peas in a pod, so you should steer clear of that meat shop as well. The ribs were so tender the author was able to pull the bone right off the meat. The flavor was fantastic, helped by a beautifully rich bark that was packed with flavor. The spice profile in the bark was just perfection.
One of the changes John Lewis made when he came to La Barbecue was to make his own sausage. I have no idea what went into this link, but it comes across as something of a jalapeno cheese with chorizo sausage. The sausage at La Barbecue is very juicy and spicy with a strange coloring. Notably, the sausage is shades of orange and yellow, and was unlike any of “original” sausage I have ever tasted. However they make this stuff, it was delicious! The author finished the whole link, something that he rarely does with sausage. On the scorecard, the sausage from La Barbecue earned a perfect score!
Sauce is oftentimes an overlooked offering here at The Best of Texas Barbecue, as the staff refuses to contaminate quality meats with any additive. However, La Barbecue offers two kinds of sauces, (1) a traditional style BBQ sauce, and (2) a unique original sauce. The latter is lighter in color, and has a sweet-heat going on that is reminiscent of a mango habanero sauce. It was delicious. The author actually dipped the last bites of the sausage link into this latter sauce, and enjoyed it immensely.
OVERALL RATING: TRULY EXCELLENT!