John Mueller is like a character out of a movie. Surly, scruffy, always dressed in black and wearing sun glasses. Focused in his preparations. Personable after you get to know him…of course, that takes about a year or two.
Mueller is the lovable BBQ grump of Austin. An old sumbish you just can’t help but like, even when he’s telling you to move your ass along.
I could tell you the same stories you’ve heard about how Mueller split from the old joint in a firestorm of controversy. And that’s all interesting, but it just doesn’t matter. There’s only one thing I care about: meat.
I was fortunate enough to be the very first person in line when Mueller opened in East Austin. But, like every business ever, you simply cannot judge an establishment on the opening day. So, I waited a few weeks before I headed back to write my review.
I showed up on a Thursday morning and was greeted by the lovely essence of post oak smoke. Gah, I love that smell.
Mueller was doing his regular pit boss walk. You know, where they walk so fast they’re almost at an angle. Greetings were a bit short as he was very busy. But, the line moved quickly and I was face-to-face with Mueller in no time.
The order was simple: holy trinity (brisket, sausage, pork rib) plus a beef rib. And sauce. This is one of the few joints where I actually make sure to get sauce.
I paid and sprinted to my seat.
The moist brisket was up first. It had an amazing pepper crust, a very pleasing level of smoke, MASSIVE black pepper flavor that made me nearly weep and a beautiful smoke ring. The fat was rendered damn near perfect and every bite melted in my mouth.
Folks, I love to eat my words. I wrote a post about where to eat in Austin during SXSW and suggested that Mueller had dry lean brisket. Well, the lean I ate on this visit was perfect. Dense, yet maintained a very pleasant moisture level, same smoke and pepper as the moist. Thin layer of yummy fat across the top. Some of the best lean brisket you can eat.
Next up was the pork rib. I’ve got to be honest right now. The pork rib I ate on this day was simply incredible. It was so much sex in my mouth, I started hearing R Kelly songs. Don’t ask.
The pork rib had a perfect texture and density of the meat, a subtle sweetness that accentuated the jerky-like bark perfectly. Sublime is the only word I can think of. I just…don’t know what else to say.
Mueller makes one of my favorite sausages (the others being from La Barbecue and Zimmerhanzel’s). The casing had an excellent snap, but didn’t linger and force me to gnaw. The texture was just right. What I really like about Mueller’s sausage is the black pepper. It’s like the M80 of black pepper.
The beef rib was the last thing I ate during this visit. Some folks daintily poke and delicately slice their beef ribs. To hell with that. I’m a caveman around these things. I grabbed the rib bone and began my conspicuous process of acting like a crazed animal. Black pepper was flying everywhere. At one point I growled. The suits sitting beside me got uncomfortable.
Mueller’s beef rib is consistently one of the best in the state. The hard, pepper crust gives way to the soft, deep umami meat underneath. The meat separates from the bone with little to no effort. This is truly one of the great beef ribs.
John Mueller Meat Co is one of the best joints in Austin. This is a must visit for folks coming to town looking to eat some classic Central Texas ‘cue. Between Mueller and La Barbecue, there is absolutely no reason to ever leave Austin: the best ‘cue in America is right here.