Have you had enough of New Jersey? Here at the t:e organization, we get that way, generally several times a year. But, this is a self-proclaimed "New Jersey-centric" blog, so the "editor" refrains, for the most part, from talking about food from other parts of the globe.
On the one hand, I think this focus makes tommy:eats a unique blog; after all, its purpose isn't to focus on the "editor-in-chief" and his personal exploits and various interests outside of food (you know little about me, and I prefer to keep it that way). But rather, its purpose is to focus on the good stuff in, and sometimes around, New Jersey. You come here, and you read about food. No bullshit, no filler.
But, alas, I, the "managing editor" of tommy:eats, do run out of New Jersey-centric topics on which to opine, as any reader no doubt realizes. This is largely due to the fact that I rarely post about a restaurant that I simply do not like...of which there are many, at which many of my dollars are spent. These are wasted meals, and wasted opportunities to share a good experience...not to mention wasted money.
So what's an "editor-at-large" supposed to do? Just ignore his fan base? Well, yes, usually. And you will be especially ignored if you think I fancy myself an "editor." Maybe change the rules a bit?
There is, I should note, a precedent for this rule tweaking. As you no doubt don't recall, I enjoyed the hell out of the navel-gazing Lollapalooza report from my first year with this blog. I wrestled with posting it, as it wasn't NJ-centric. But at the end of the day it made me very happy to share that experience with people. After all, it contained reports of hot dogs, steaks, burgers, pizza, and music. And if you don't enjoy at least one of those things, you're probably not reading this right now.
Something's got to give here at the t:e organization. To heck with it! We love NJ, but there's a lot more good stuff out there, just over the Jersey border somewhere, right? And some of you might even end up where that stuff is.
So who wants to hear about Texas BBQ? WOO-HOO! Let's do this thing.
If you visit Austin, TX, and don't take a drive to Taylor, TX, you are missing out on a wonderful experience.
Firstly, the town looks as if it was deserted 50 years ago. This isn't something which thrills me, but the sights and sounds are transporting; it's like a ghost town, save for a couple of BBQ joints.
Secondly, they've got Louie Mueller.
Louie Mueller was the first BBQ that we had in Texas, and I was very excited indeed (at about 11 am I will add). When you step in to queue up, you'll find that you yourself are being smoked: the joint is smoky, and just friggin' awesome. Two big ol' cavernous rooms in two big ol' buildings.
We over-ordered, due to the excitement of finally having Hill Country BBQ in Hill Country itself. But very little went to waste.
The brisket changed my life forever. I had never had brisket that good, and haven't had brisket that good since. Of course you need to order the "moist" brisket. Not the "lean". The moist is going to include the point (fatty) part of the brisket. The Texas BBQ joints that I visited all seemed to serve the point and flat (lean part of the brisket) in a single slice. This is a bit of a challenge, since the grain of those two muscles runs in different directions. But by golly, this is the way to eat brisket. Rubbed simply with salt and copious amounts of pepper, if I'm not mistaken.
If, after eating brisket at Louie Meuller, you don't have chunks of black pepper in your teefhers, you're doing something wrong. I did it correctly.
You might think that pork isn't highly regarded in Hill Country BBQ, and perhaps it's not so much by the locals, but we found pork ribs everywhere. Hill Country, apparently, is not just just beef country.
The pork ribs, too, were nothing short of a revelation. There was no sweet or acidic or mustardy sauce. There was no rub consisting of 22 secret ingredients. The ribs appeared to be seasoned with nothing more than smoke, salt, and pepper. Maybe a little something else, but it was subtle. Am I going to throw away my rub recipe? Probably not. But these pork ribs were a reminder that less is more.
Beef ribs? You might not believe it, but they were fantastic as well. Again, just a simple rub, probably just salt and pepper. A good amount of smoke. Big and meaty.
I've been trying to figure out what part of the rib these Hill Country folks are using. Is it really the short rib? Or is it the back rib? Using the back rib would seem to be prohibitively expensive, as it's coming from the part of the rib primal that the standing rib roast (and rib steaks) comes from. But then again there's not much meat toward the bottom of the short rib, so how could this be a short rib? It's really all a mystery to me. But I intend to figure this out. When I do you'll all be the second to know.
We didn't get a chance to order any sausage. I had gotten so excited while ordering, I totally forgot. Which is just as well because we had way too much food, especially for what seemed like breakfast. But alas, as I came to learn, Smitty's Market in Lockhart would be setting the bar very high for sausage. Very high indeed.
The t:e final assessment of Louie Mueller: Best brisket
Louie Mueller Barbecue : 206 W. 2nd Street : Talyor, TX : 512.352.6206