I spent one full day (before dinner, that is) in Texas eating from five of the top-rated barbecue joints in the state. (Texas Monthly named three of them in their top five and all in their top fifty).
At 9am we headed to the town of Taylor, home to two spots on every barbecue cognoscente’s list: Louie Mueller’s BBQ and Taylor Café. If they weren’t famous for their meats, they’d have to be known for their gritty, lusty style. They look like places folks up North and at Disney try to copy, but pretty-up and ruin.
Louie Mueller Barbecue
Louie Mueller’s Barbecue has been at 206 West 2nd Street in Taylor since 1959.
Here’s why people keep going there:
Tony White, the Associate Pit Boss, showed us the meat cooking in the pits:
The real surprise–the dish you don’t want to miss here– is the smoked turkey, with it’s pastrami-like savory spice crust and moist, tender meat.
Here’s more to fall in love with at Louie Mueller’s Barbecue– the interior.
Louie Mueller’s BBQ
206 w. 2nd Street, Taylor, TX
Taylor Cafe, housed in the oldest building in Taylor, is just a stone’s throw away.
There is still plenty of evidence of its roots as a saloon, even if the bar stools have been recovered. (I wonder if these colors were also used to update the former brothel upstairs)
Owner Vencil Mares (a mere 88 years old) smokes meats over post oak. (He has a little help at the pit these days)
Taylor Cafe takes special pride in their sausage (regular and turkey), but we think the real draw is the look and feel of the place. It is worth a visit just to soak it all in. (And if you go on a really hot day, as we did, take a look at the window “air conditioning”. The front of the box, which is built into the window, houses a fan. Directly behind the fan in the box is a giant block of ice which gets replaced throughout the day.)
I chatted with a woman at the bar who was down on her luck. She was sipping a cup of water, trying to escape the blasting heat outside. She didn’t have any money, nor many teeth, and it looked as though she hadn’t seen a comb in while. But she had extraordinarily expressive eyes and beautiful cheekbones, and after we talked a while, I asked if I could photograph her.
“No, ma’am, you can’t do none of that. But,” she said, sweeping her long arm behind her, “you could take a real good picture of that menu.”
101 N. Main St.
After we finished our barbecue tasting of Taylor, we headed to Lockhart, which the Texas Legislature has proclaimed the Barbecue Capital of Texas. Seriously.
I’ll tell you all about the good, the bad and the ugly in Lockhart (and beyond) in tomorrow’s post: stay tuned.