Louie Mueller Barbecue
Wayne Mueller (since 2008)
Post oak; indirect-heat pit
Forty-nine years of post oak coals in the pit have smoke-cured the building, which previously housed a ladies’ basketball court and a grocery market. Louie moved in with his barbecue business in 1959; his son, Bobby, took over more than three decades ago, but not a thing has suffered from the change of hands or the progression of time. Rather, the soot-covered green paint, high ceilings, and aging business cards on the wall have elevated the place to iconic status.
Enter through the creaky screen door and time slows: Most likely, you will stand in a long line to get your meat . . . you will reach the counter . . . you will order by the pound. When I went at noon on a Saturday, the fatty brisket measured up to the highest standards. The fat melted, and the slices could be cut easily with a fork edge. (The same couldn’t be said for the lean brisket, which had reached its eat-by date before we sat down.) Still, the beef rib was the best choice. The thing was as big as my forearm, and the server sliced it four times so my guests could sample the chunks that fell right off the bone onto the butcher paper. Bobby makes the 100 percent–beef sausage himself. The jalapeño variety was my favorite: A lasting kick and a skin that crackled took it over the top. The traditional, homemade sides and spicy, vinegar-based sauce were as great as always.
Now, I’ll admit I winced a little when I saw the line of out-of-towners stretching from the counter to the front door. But newcomers are a good reminder that this is no average ’cue joint; without them, I might easily forget how transcendental and relaxing this place really is, how it can leave me feeling light-headed and blissed-out no matter how much meat I just put away.