We began Gregg’s carefully plotted barbeque tour in Taylor at Louie Mueller Barbeque in a setting that is as rustically American as Chez L’Ami Louis is Gallic, if not more so. Since 1959, Mueller’s has been housed in a cavernous edifice that lays deceptively within the shops on
We entered the dim, large hall which houses the main dining room, service counter, and various smokers and pits. (It was once a ladies’ gymnasium.) The paint on the walls is so dark from smoke and rust that it is impossible to ascertain the original color. The only sources of light are the handful of half-open window panes at the nexus of the high ceilings and front walls. But the ceiling's dark wood cannot refract the meager quantities of rust-tinged sunshine that penetrate the panes; it's just as well because our gustatory and olfactory senses were all that we needed.
Gregg ordered beef and pork ribs, sausage, and of course brisket at every establishment we visited -- and as is the custom, he ordered by the pound. (We supplemented this basic menu at Mueller’s with a bone-in rib eye.) We quickly learned that silverware, plates, sauces, and side dishes were all extraneous on this BBQ tour. The only necessities? Butcher paper, fingers and thumbs, and the occasional raw onion and sliced pickle to cut the palate when the meat flavor became excessive.
Mueller applies a rub to its meat that consists exclusively of salt and pepper. All of the various meats thus have a peppery taste, and virtually of all of them are delicious. (I thought the pepper inundated the nevertheless overcooked steak.) As it turned out, Mueller’s meaty and succulent beef ribs, a carnivore’s fantasy, and the well-done, peppery pork sausage were probably the best of the weekend for their respective genera. In fact, the sausage proved to be the only edible version as every other establishment, including the several self-proclaimed specialists in sausage, sold coils of encased grease, surpassing the beleaguered Dodger Dog as the zenith of treyf cuisine.
After a freight train temporarily blocked our way out of
The day’s penultimate lunch was Meyers’ Elgin Smokehouse, which similarly has a smokehouse and market, and touts its beef sausage. Potential patrons followed the Soup Nazi methodology of customer service. We were stationed in the adjacent room behind a line that was some 15 feet from the counter. Once summoned, we ordered, paid, and received our lunch. The next customer was not summoned until we exited the counter area.
Running out of intestinal capacity, we only tried the brisket, the sausage of which Meyers is so proud, creamed corn, and a pit-smoked baked potato. Once again, the brisket was outstanding and had a nice smoke ring. Meyers uses a spicy and smoky rub that is not as strong as Mueller’s, though much more pronounced than Southside’s elusive rub. The creamed corn is sweet and tasty and, though we had high aspirations for the pit-smoked potato, it tasted like an ordinary baked potato. Once again, we were not charmed by the sausage’s fat and grease.
Meyers was to be the final lunch of the afternoon. But on our drive back to
While we waited for our food, Gregg snapped a few photos of the trailer for posterity in plain view of the nervous proprietor. When I returned for some napkins, the owner raised the issue of the photos and asked, “Are y’all a part of some kind of con-cern?” I assured him that our intentions were entirely benevolent.
As great as the barbeque is, the local cuisine is otherwise mediocre at best, and often inedible. Contrivances like Frito Pie and hunks of what could be government cheese simply do not pass muster. On Day One, at least, supposedly urbane
Louie Mueller Barbeque
Southside Market & Barbeque
1212 Hwy 290
Meyer’s Elgin Smokehouse
188 Hwy 290
Lost Pines Bar-B-Que