The best way to go into a Texas BBQ joint is through a wooden screen door that leaves a satisfying “thunk” as you enter the building, and get that first face-blast of BBQ smoke and smell.
It’s been run by the Mueller family for 70 years, and if you walk in today you may see a smiling Wayne Mueller greeting customers and asking if everything is OK with their brisket, ribs, sausage, and sides.
The older part of the building is like being inside a barbeque pit. Its walls are blackened from years of heat and smoke and history. The many business cards left by visitors from around the world are yellowed with age under the usual assortment of neon beer signs, framed reviews, and of course a poster of Texas blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother.
There are fans because this section isn’t air-conditioned, so brace yourself if you stop by in the summer. The temperatures inside are not that bad, and you can always escape through the doors to the newer section called “The Porch” that has walls approximately 84 shades lighter in color, plus A/C.
But why would you do that?
Before ordering, take a minute to browse the hand-written menu on the wall near the order counter. You can select a Frito Pie or baked potato in addition to meats, and desserts include banana pudding and peach cobbler (I’ve never been in a Texas BBQ place that didn’t have a cobbler.)
The big beef ribs have a note next to them – “John Wayne on a stick!”
If you’re nice at the counter, you’ll usually get a little hunk of brisket to try.
I picked the chopped beef brisket sandwich, potato salad, and beans.
The bun was nice and pillowy, and the meat didn’t need sauce to be flavorful and moist, although sauce is available.
For me, if you have to dump sauce on brisket to juice it up, you got yourself some dry brisket. Ewww.
Find yourself a table and get ready to enjoy … I decided that a view out the door would do me just fine.
Of course that’s a Mexican Coke in the photo below; this is Texas!
For a drink, you can grab your choice of beer or soda from big Yeti coolers set on tables nearby, then pop the tops off with a bottle opener on a string next to a galvanized tub. Very satisfying.
Yes, there is Big Red if you like to taste liquid bubble gum.
There are also bottles of Dublin 1891 Red Cola, which if you know your Texas soda drama you’ll know comes from a bottler in Dublin, Texas that until 2012 bottled Dr Pepper made with cane sugar. The Dr Pepper Snapple company made them stop over a contract tiff, and we’ve been sulking about it down here ever since.
The thing about Louie Mueller or most any BBQ place is that once they’re out for that day, they’re out.
So, trying to line up a late lunch followed by Pie Happy Hour (3 to 5 p.m.) at the Texan Cafe down the road in Hutto can be tricky. Mueller’s is open till 6 p.m., but may or may not still have your favorite ‘que by early- to mid-afternoon.
If you finish lunch too soon, have a coffee at nearby Curb Side Coffee, one of several businesses in the beautifully restored McCrory Timmerman building at Second and Main, just up the block from Louie Mueller.
Then, a short drive from Taylor past blackland prairie cotton fields and the “where-is-it?” town of Frame Switch will bring you to tiny downtown Hutto and the Texan Cafe, with the big bovine eyes and head on the roof.
Go in, smile at the waitstaff, and turn to your left toward the pie case in the back of one of the dining rooms.
Take your time choosing between “the usual” apple pies and peanut butter pies and Key Lime pies, or go with something like the Blackberry Cream or the Peppermint Patty. They’re all good, and like the sign says, “Pie Fixes Everything.”
A hedonistic afternoon of Texas BBQ and pie deserves to be savored slowly, so wear your loose pants and enjoy it.
If you like this post, please consider subscribing to the blog via RSS feed or by email – the email signup box is toward the top of the right sidebar. Thanks!