Last week, I joined Posse members Marshall Cooper and Jim Rossman for a quick roadtrip to Austin. Marshall was returning a portable smoker to Franklin Barbecue pitmaster John Lewis, who he has been helping on the national BBQ cookoff competition circuit. It was a great excuse to grab a bite at both Franklin and the new JMueller BBQ while we were down there.

JMueller BBQ was opened in October by John Mueller, grandson of legendary BBQ master Louie Mueller of Taylor. Much has already been written about the joint, including a New York Times story published before he even opened and a coveted five-star rating by Daniel Vaughn on his Full Custom Gospel BBQ blog in early November. To say John Mueller knows how to cook BBQ is like saying the sun rises in the east. It's in his blood.

The temperature was in the low-to-mid 40s when we pulled into the lot at Mueller's east Austin location, so the line was only a few deep. The joint is made up of two trailers, one for the huge smoker and one from which they prep and sell the food. There are numerous large picnic tables for you to sit and eat. We all commented how we couldn't wait to come back on a warmer day.

Here's what Jim Rossman thought about the experience:

"I really liked John Mueller's place, but strictly for the food. I think he's proving his food first and the atmosphere will come later. The day we ate the weather was sunny, but the temp was in the mid 40s and it was windy. This made for less-than-ideal outdoor eating conditions. The food cooled off in a hurry.

As for the meat, I had the brisket, beef rib and a link and it was all 5-star in my opinion. The beef rib was the star, but the sausage was a standout as well. I'll certainly be back when the weather warms up."

Here's Marshall's impression of his first visit to JMueller:

"The day I ate at John Mueller's the weather sucked but the BBQ rocked! The best beef rib I've had anywhere, perfectly cooked, fat was rendered down flawlessly leaving a moist and tender rib with excellent flavor from the perfect rub. But it could of used a bit more smoke. The fatty brisket had an excellent flavor due to the great rub and was cooked perfectly as well, even the fat was rendered down just right - but lacked a bit of smoke. The lean brisket was undercooked by a couple of hours but had the super flavor from the perfect amount of rub, which must of been sliced from a different brisket than the fatty brisket.

The sausage was hands-down the best sausage I have had, which must have been straight off the pit. Great texture, good flavors, very juicy and cooked perfectly and had the perfect snap. The pork rib had an excellent flavor, great texture but was a bit dry probably due to coming off the pit earlier in the morning. All in all everything needed just a bit more smoke. Overall some of the best BBQ in Texas, clearly a 5+ star with a 6 star waiting in the wings. Look out Franklin BBQ....."

JMueller BBQ, 1502 S 1st St, Austin, TX, 512-229-7366. Open Wed-Sat 11 am-til the meat runs out.


12 years ago

Nice write up! I'm curious about the covered smoker. Is it protect the smoker and Mueller from the elements or is required by the health department?

Chris Wilkins

12 years ago

Here's the thoughts of our pitmaster Marshall Cooper on your question:

Being from Dallas I'm not familiar with City of Austin health codes and cannot be certain without asking John Mueller. But my guess would be the massive pit was built on a covered and screened trailer to:

1. Make it mobile due to the massive size and weight
2. Screen it to protect the pit and pitmaster from the outdoor elements.

I have seen pits in other BBQ joints within The City of Austin that have a mix of both covered and uncovered pits. I know of a BBQ joint in Dallas that health code required the pit to be covered, vented & screened in with a hand-sink & grease trap.

Austin Top 5 plus Snow's

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