A barbecue trailer power vacuum has existed in Austin ever since Franklin Barbecue transformed from food truck to brick-and-mortar operation two years ago. In a city packed with food trucks of all varieties, who could take its place?
The most logical prediction is Aaron Franklin's former employer John Mueller, grandson of Texas barbecue legend Louie Mueller. After closing his trailer in East Austin, Mueller went into business with his sister, LeeAnn, at the JMueller BBQ trailer in South Austin. Later she ousted him from his namesake trailer following a well-documented family squabble over the management of the business.
Last March, John Mueller took his meat smoking prowess back across the Colorado River to East Austin with the simply-named John Mueller Meat Co. Declaring "You may go to hell, I'll go to 6th and Pedernales" (a reference to the famous Davy Crockett quote about Texas), he opened the new trailer in the backyard of a dive bar on that very corner. A festive atmosphere permeated while I waited in line to try Mueller's famously peppery smoked meats. The sun was relentless on the hungry crowd, but Mueller himself slipped an ice-cold Lone Star into my hand to make the wait go down a little smoother.
Now Mueller's sister LeeAnn is operating the old trailer under the name La Barbecue. She recruited a new pitmaster, John Lewis, the former protégée of Aaron Franklin (as you can see, Austin's barbecue scene is a little inbred). Although John Mueller Meat Co. and La Barbecue have been open less than a year in their current forms, they both made the recently releasedTexas Monthly 50 Best BBQ Joints ranking, an important benchmark in the barbecue world.
These two trailers are making some of the best barbecue in town, but others — like the sausage-centric Mickelthwait Craft Meats—have sneaked into the competition, too. Besides the classic Texas barbecue meat plates and sausages, even more choices are popping up, including (but not limited to) smoked carnitas, brisket tacos, and Cuban-inspired pulled pork sandwiches. Many of these barbecue trucks offer a party-style atmosphere, with live music and free beer on weekends.
The stomachs of Austin are clearly benefiting from all this barbecue drama. Here's a look at 10 barbecue trucks we love across the city.
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About the author: Meredith Bethune is a writer, blogger, and sausage and bacon maker. She is currently living in Austin and learning about the wonders of barbecue and chicken-fried steak. Follow her on Twitter (@MeredithBethune).