Ribs and pancakes: it’s a combination I would trust few restaurants with, but Miller’s Smokehouse is one of them. In Belton, an hour north of Austin, the joint’s barbecue-stuffed buns, tortillas, and biscuits have inspired many an early-morning detour from Interstate 35, especially when paired with a cup of coffee from its roaster, Muscovy. Its new breakfast ribs will similarly start your day high on the hog.
Co-owner Dusty Miller recently revamped his morning menu—available every day from 7:30 a.m. to 10:55 a.m. sharp—with the consulting help of chef and pitmaster Cade Mercer, of Austin’s CM Smokehouse, which has an impressive weekend brunch of its own. Some of the new items Mercer came up with were a hot link hash topped with two runny eggs and a breakfast taco filled with smoked pulled pork, salsa, refried beans, and fried potatoes. His greatest contribution, however, was a new cut of pork for breakfast. “We’ve never seen a dish like this, but it fits perfectly,” Miller said.
The cooks at Miller’s dunk whole racks of baby back ribs into a kind of brine that’s used to cure bacon and is made with salt, sugar, and maple syrup. Then they keep them in the cooler for two days. Next, the ribs are seasoned with black pepper and ground coffee before being smoked for three and a half to four hours. The smoked rack is chilled, cut into individual ribs, and deep-fried. Once out of the fryer, they’re tossed in more maple syrup. They’re not as sticky as they sound, because just a thin layer of the syrup clings to the sizzling exterior. The meat falls off the bone cleanly in nuggets reminiscent of candied bacon. “They taste like a porky version of French toast to me,” Miller said.
Order the Ribs & Cakes and you’ll get three of the ribs atop two fluffy pancakes. For a small charge, you can upgrade to cinnamon-
roll pancakes—it’s worth it. General manager Amadeo Chapa said these were created to assuage complaints about Miller’s decadent cinnamon rolls being available only Friday through Sunday. The pancakes get a generous swirl of cinnamon sugar syrup while still on the griddle and are finished with a drizzle of vanilla icing. I call the whole dish barbecue’s answer to chicken and waffles—and one of the best things I ate in 2023.
This article originally appeared in the January 2024 issue of Texas Monthly with the headline “You’ll Flip for This.” Subscribe today.