JMueller BBQ — Closed

1502 S. 1st
Austin, TX 78704

Phone: 512-229-7366
Hours: Closed; reopened as La Barbecue at this location.

TMBBQ Rating: 4.5


July 21, 2012

Update: This joint is CLOSED. Pitmaster John Mueller was unceremoniously relieved of his duties by his sister LeAnn Mueller who owns the place. She has reopened with the new name La Barbecue. I’ll give the new joint a try next time I’m in Austin.

2012: After several visits and bringing a dining companion by the name of Anthony Bourdain and his camera crew with me for a meat fest at John Mueller’s place a few months back, let’s just say that John knows me. We have each other’s cell phone number, and he sent me a Christmas ham, which I promptly enjoyed with impressed dinner guests. I preface all of this to tell you just how pleased I was when, during a surprise visit wherein I was hoping to sneak in unnoticed, I was able to pull it off. My wife and I were headed to an event in Wimberley when I decided to do a drive-by of the JMueller BBQ trailer on our way through Austin. At 12:45, there wasn’t the normal string of folks waiting to order, so I made a beeline for the trailer where I found meat carver and pit protege Ali working the front counter instead of John. My tray was soon full of beautiful smoked meats as I rounded the corner of the trailer to pay and say hello to John who was sitting with a couple friends drinking a cold one. We both laughed, and I retreated to a picnic table for my generous snack.

When the brisket above is sitting on the counter as you walk up, you know you’re in for a good meal. A couple of thick slices of the fatty beef had a soft interior of smoky meat and tender fat while the thick bark on the exterior was stout and even a bit crispy. On a previous visit I was more enamored with the lean beef, but on this day the moist brisket was easily its equal. One item that had improved considerably was the homemade sausage. The formerly chewy casing and greasy filling had made way for a taut casing with a great snap and a well-seasoned and cohesive filling. The beef rib had little room for improvement and it was, as always, one of the best beef ribs anywhere in the state. It may be the most consistent cut of meat here and rarely fails to impress.

Since my last visit, the recipe for the pork ribs has been adjusted. Gone are the chewy ribs overwhelmed by pepper. They have been replaced with well-smoked spare ribs with exemplary juiciness and tenderness. Another addition is a sweet glaze similar to the one you’ll find at Smitty’s, in Lockhart. It doesn’t overshadow the meat like a candy coating but instead adds a pleasing counterpoint to the heavy black-pepper rub. I could have eaten a full rack.

When I return to a five-star joint to see if they have earned the sixth, what I’m looking for is a repeat performance of the previous experience. Consistency is more important than being able to wow someone beyond expectations every once in a while. John insists that his real desire is to please that regular customer who comes by once a week and expects the same great meal he had the week before, rather than trying to please the food critics like myself that swoop in now and again.I can’t speak to John’s weekly performance, but I can say without a doubt that the barbecue here improves with every visit I’ve made. At this rate, I’ve got to wonder where the ceiling is.

(This review originally appeared on Full Custom Gospel BBQ.)




    Fulmer says:

    Daniel, Spot on review. The place has some good quality Q now & shows promise on some of the cuts that, with a little more time & care on the smoker will be good (sausage in particular). However, I loved the chipotle cole slaw. No change needed there. Crisp, not soggy from excessive mayo & wonderful back end heat.

    RL Reeves Jr says:

    I want some of that “fat cat”. Didn’t have a chance to try it.

    Read how John Mueller is “setting the world on fire one spark at a time” this way.

    I’m digging your longform style you’re developing Daniel.

    Nice piece.

    For me what puts Mueller at the top is the homemade hot guts.

    Nobody else in Austin is even trying them.

    It’s the Smoky Denmark effect.

    Scott R says:

    Good review. Agree with RL that the sausage here is something special.

    Glad my 5 star prediction came true 🙂

    Anonymous says:

    Visited JMueller BBQ two weeks ago on a trip that included Smitty’s in Lockhart, City Market in Luling and Gonzales Food Market.

    Brisket at JMueller, fatty, was the best of the trip, as were John’s pork ribs. I generally think Luling has the best pork ribs, and they have had the best over a series of several trips over the last year, but not this time. I am partial to pepper in a rub and John’s is peppery.

    Smitty’s sausage at about 10am is still the best I’ve ever had, but I liked the JMueller fine.

    I will say this also, JMueller at 12noon was head and shoulders above Louie Mueller in Taylor at 3pm I had a few months ago. Time of day is key. I almost think reviews should always state the time of day the food is tasted.

    Gonzales Food Market was a big disappointment overall, I have to say, so I don’t have anything to add about that.

    I am excited to see John Mueller back and expect quality to continue to go up. Patronize this place so he can build a permanent restaurant.

    Scott R says:

    i went back a week ago. It’s up to 6 star imho. Brisket has improved a notch. Worth revisiting.

    Bronson says:

    Agree that JM is a 6 star joint now

    Thanks for the update! I’ve only been once, not long after they opened, and felt that while the meats were quite good, everything was laden with black pepper. So I am particularly encouraged by your description of the pork ribs!

    Blain says:

    Well deserved.

    Rudy Gamble says:

    6 stars – nice! 2 of the 4 6-star BBQ joints are in Austin. Imagine someone predicted that 5 years ago…

    John is the best cook in the state.
    John is the best cook in the U.S.
    John is who every bbq cook aspires to be.

    Anonymous says:

    Might want to adjust the hours listed. John’s not open on Tuesdays (yet)

    BBQ Snob says:

    Thanks. Fixed now.

    John Mueller puts out four (4) stellar meats @ six (6) stars:

    1. Brisket
    2. Beef Sausage
    3. Pork Ribs
    4. Beef Ribs

    What other six star bbq joint can match or beat that?

    Anonymous says:

    I usually just get brisket and sausage, but the review convinced me: get the pork ribs!

    Anonymous says:

    John Mueller is leaving JMueller BBQ. His sister, Leann Mueller, says he doesn’t own the place and he’s a poor manager.

    Anonymous says:

    Got the feeling that the 5th 6 star rating is in our future for the BBQ Emeritus. King John will Shine under the Armour once again.

    Jordan says:

    Went here 1 month ago after the dismissal of John. Beef rib was good but not to the level of Louie Meuller’s in Taylor. The pork rib was excellent and still as Daniel described with the glaze. Great brisket.

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