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May 28, 2011 03:59 PM

BBQ Crawl 2011

Visiting the Austin area for BBQ is an annual event for us. I have never started a thread but this year, after seeing so many downhill alerts, I felt compelled. We don't usually come during Memorial Day weekend so I expected chaos- surprisingly average crowds.
Our usual itinerary is we arrive in the evening on a Friday, visit one of the in town restaurants ( ie Parkside) and stay at one of the nicer hotels. We shook things up a bit this year and arrived earlier and stayed by the airport ( hotel review will be on Trip Advisor!).
Made our first visit on Thursday at about 2p to Louie Mueller. Just one other table was occupied- and all of the meats were wrapped in plastic. Staff was uber friendly. They were out of all of the sausages which was really what I had come to try. Ordered beef ribs, baby backs ( no one else usually has either), brisket and pork ribs. Beef rib was on the Wilma Flintstone size and completely encased in pepper. Pork ribs were dry and really a disappointment. Brisket the same. Baby backs were just ok. No sweet tea. First and last trip to Taylor for us. Please someone explain all of the fuss.
Date night was to the Central Market on East Lamarr. I would move to Austin just to be near this market but am still in sticker shock from the fish prices- and I live in NY!

Were at City Market in Luling by 10:30- no line. By 11a, the line was nearing the door- it was a great cross section of people!
My DH is usually the one who raves about City Market- but this year IMHO they had -hands down -the best ribs. My only regret is that we didn't get more to take home ( but I wasn't braving the line). Hot, perfect smoke ring, amazing flavor. This should be enough to dispel any downhill alert rumors- but we had more eating to do.
Smitty's was packed by the time we arrived at noon. Lots of women in the smoking area which is a new sight for me. These are usually my favorite ribs. Today they were a distant second- but still better than anything we have in NY. Brisket came in first.
We tried Chisolm Trail for the first time- reminded me a little of Blacks- with all of the mediocre side dishes and more "complete meal" ambiance. But it got major points for the sausages ( do they make them?) despite the casing being a little hard. A lot of food for the money it seemed too.
So... fear not, Lockhart and Luling are alive and well. We will be back next year.

Smitty's Market
208 S Commerce St, Lockhart, TX 78644

Chisholm Trail Barbq
1323 S Colorado St, Lockhart, TX 78644

Central Market
4477 S Lamar Blvd Ste 100, Austin, TX 78745

Louie Mueller Barbecue
206 W 2nd St, Taylor, TX 76574

City Market
633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

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  1. I'm sorry you had a poor experience at Louie Mueller. I think a lot of people would argue that the place has slipped since Bobby died. I disagree. We've had many excellent meals there in the last year. I think your experience is probably more reflective of the time and day you visited. By 2 PM, especially on a non-peak day, you risk getting meat that's been sitting or cooking for a while at any pit. I'm sorry you missed the sausage - it's a real highlight. Their rub does pack a lot of black pepper.

    1 Reply
    1. re: brentwood

      I agree that your experience at Louie Mueller is more of a reflection of the hour that you arrived. I had a similar experience with the sausage at 1:30 a couple of weeks ago. However... at 11:30, all's well. The sausage, even when drier than I expect, was very flavorful and the brisket (I order moist) has been tender and delicious. I hope you will reconsider writing them off.... just arrive earlier when the meat has just been finished... 3 hours later is a lot to ask... I don't even like great BBQ nearly as much when it has been reheated even if it was great to begin with.

    2. I agree with you on Muellers. I was also dissapointed the last time ( there @ 11:15). Pity you didn't make it to Franklins here in town. The best by far in this whole region as far as I'm concerned. Just wish they'd take a que from Rudy' s and streamline the line/wait. Seriously...

      1. "First and last trip to Taylor for us. Please someone explain all of the fuss"
        It's sort of the nature of BBQ that any of a number of places can be the greatest on any given day. I'm not really a huge fan of Louie Mueller's, but I have no fight with people who are. They have their good days and less good days. I guess you were there on a less good day.
        City Market is a great trip, and a fun atmosphere. Same for Smitty's. Last time I went to Lockhart, I didn't even bother with Kreutz, as they've let me down lately. Better off going to Black's.
        Maybe next time you come down, you should hit Snow's in Lexington. It's only open on Saturdays, and you'll need to be eating at about 9:30 am, but the brisket is amazing and the staff is extremely friendly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gilintx

          We usually do all of our eating on a Saturday so if we do Snow's that limits the number of places we can try. We just need to come to the area more often!
          Eating leftovers the day after and marveling how even the worst of what we ate is better than the best of what we have in NY.

        2. My perfect, but impossible in a single day, BBQ crawl would be:

          8am Snow's brisket
          10am Franklin's brisket
          11am City Market ribs, sausage
          Noon Cooper's brisket, beef ribs

          City Market
          633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

          19 Replies
          1. re: achtungpv

            This is an amazing plan, and not impossible with some aggressive driving and an NSX, as well as hiring a line-waiter for us at Franklin.

            The sprint from Luling to Llano would also be pretty exciting, since we're doing them an hour apart! 116 miles in one hour... hmm... maybe we'll hit Cooper's at 12:30. ;)

            1. re: tom in austin

              If you get a line-waiter...they do exist...check for guys that will wait in line for you for free que...then the itinerary could be...

              8am Snow's
              11am Franklin
              12:30 City Market
              2:30 Cooper's

              That may be doable!

              City Market
              633 E Davis St, Luling, TX 78648

              1. re: achtungpv

                If there's a line waiter in front of me, we're going to have some major problems. This is the sort of thing that needs to be stomped out.

                1. re: rudeboy

                  Sadly, a pro line waiter (or the charity of more patient friends) is the only way I'll eat Franklin again. Shame, as I do enjoy the brisket.

                  Snow's is much easier. If you get up early, there is no wait. I'm naturally an early riser so this doesn't trouble me.

                  1. re: tom in austin

                    I'm just sayin - if there's one dude ahead of me, and then six people step into the line in his place, there's going to be a problem. If six people hire six "waiters," then that's okay I guess.

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      Happened to me the last time @ Franklins! Was PISSED one person turned into 8 INDIVIDUAL orders...

                      1. re: amysuehere

                        U mad? ;)

                        Annoying, but this is a natural marketplace reaction to Franklin's deliberate approach to creating value through perceived scarcity. Don't blame the line jumpers for not playing by some arbitrary set of ineffable rules. Blame Franklin for creating a false sense of hipster exclusivity. And blame us all for blessing them throughout, if you deem that sort of thing immoral.

                        This is a quantifiable socioeconomic effect that has been observed being leveraged by bettors and lessors than Franklin for a century+.

                        Our mutual problem is that Franklin has a legitimately good product and never asked for this success. I wouldn't worry -- when the ill-will of the customers being turned off by their goofy inefficiencies hits critical mass, they'll be forced to correct things or face market consequences.

                        Go line jumpers & waiters! Make your markup!

                        1. re: tom in austin

                          imho, Aaron should drastically increase his prices (especially for preferred times like they do at but considering they charge much more then lockhart trio already and they sell out every day I can't fault his operation. Lord knows if I have a weekday off I'll be waiting in line by 10:30! bbq this consistently good in austin city limits is worth a premium of either $$ or time.

                          1. re: chrisdds98

                            Actually, 10:30 is too late now. Get in line at 10:00 and you'll get food at 11:30 hopefully.

                          2. re: tom in austin

                            If only they'd take example from Rudys -some barkers/cashiers to several cutting the meat, they'd have much happier campers

                            1. re: tom in austin

                              No, I'm not mad at all. I'm just saying....if one person turns into eight, in front of me, there's going to be a problem. It's pretty simple, actually.

                              1. re: rudeboy

                                The fact that we've got people willing to pay line-waiters, as well as reasonable people getting emotionally charged over the fact that this occurs, implies to us all that the line situation is fairly non-optimal.

                      2. re: rudeboy

                        Along with the people who start camping out a table as soon as they arrive, and long before they get their food.

                        1. re: tom in austin

                          I didn't see any sort of "retreat" in heyzeus' comments. Let's all remember, this is just a barbeque restaurant, and a good one. Mr. Franklin is experiencing growing pains. I don't think that there's any "planned scarcity." He's a nice guy. If someone cuts in front of me in the freakin line, I'll call them out publicly. Espresso sauce is yummy!

                        2. re: rudeboy

                          Ha. The time I went to Franklin's the line was super slow because all these college guys were in line in front of me and they each ordered separately and each paid by credit card. So each customer was taking forever. I haven't gone back. They definitely need to fix their line problem.

                          1. re: BTAustin

                            What are you talking about? There is no line problem. Stop attacking the Franklin family, you jerk.


                      3. re: tom in austin

                        The Coopers in New Braunfels would be a much shorter drive from Luling (only about 35 miles or so). I've haven't tried that location though so I don't know if it's as good as Llano.

                        1. re: ssouth

                          It's really good. When i was commuting to SA for a year, I'd stop there on the way home occasionally. I've probably eaten there 5x for every trip to the original Cooper's.

                    2. The prime rib at Smitty's is one of my favorite things in Texas 'cue country.

                      Can't wait until my next trip down there.