Several years ago, Louie Mueller added a new, modern dining room that lacks the smoky patina of the old brick-walled restaurant; but no matter where you eat in this venerable BBQ, the flavor is historic. Here is a restaurant where beef is cooked and served the way pitmasters have been doing it for decades in this part of Texas. Step up to the counter behind which you have a view of the old smoke pits. Order your meat by the pound or plate. It is presented on a serving tray, which you carry to a table.
The brisket is a thing of beauty. It is sliced relatively thick, each individual slice halved by the ribbon of fat that runs through a brisket, separating the leaner, denser meat below from the more marbled stuff on top. This is the Platonic Ideal of Texas BBQ.
What’s the secret? There isn’t one. Wayne Mueller, Louie’s grandson, and now master of the BBQ domain, told us that no spices go into or onto his briskets other than salt and pepper. Add time and smoke to those two elements, plus a pitmaster who knows how to move the meat around in the pit to take maximum advantage of hot spots, cool spots, and drafts, and the result is beef that is impossibly juicy and huge-flavored. By comparison, prime sirloin and Wagyu kobe filet mignon are wan. There is sauce reminiscent of au jus, but it is irrelevant.
Louie Mueller’s menu has expanded over the years and now includes turkey, baby back ribs (on Saturday), sandwiches, and even dessert. Nothing I’ve had is less than excellent. But if you are eating here for the first time, brisket is the thing to eat, with perhaps a side of all-beef sausage.
Note: Louie Mueller is now equipped to ship its BBQ nationwide.