Go deep into the smoke-stained barbecue country of central Texas as I talk to two legendary pitmasters in a town that almost has more great BBQ joints than people— Taylor, Texas.
Taylor, Texas is a small town still just far enough from Austin to feel like the middle of nowhere, rather than a suburb of somewhere. But when it comes to barbecue, Taylor is a big somewhere in its own right— home to three of Texas’ most famous barbecue temples as well as an annual BBQ festival. I visit two of these barbecue meccas and find them incredibly evocative of Texas’ past. A former basketball court turned meat emporium, Louie Mueller’s is the most smoke-stained place I’ve ever seen in my life. While Taylor Cafe, once a rowdy and potentially dangerous cowboy bar, is calmer today, but full of memories as related by 84-year-old owner Vencil Mares. It runs 13 minutes.
Louie Mueller Barbeque
206 W. Second
101 N. Main
My LTHForum post on visiting Taylor (and other BBQ meccas)
Hill Country BBQ tour by Bill Daley in the Chicago Tribune
Vencil Mares’ recipe for slow-cooked beans
The best guidebook to Texas barbecue joints is this cookbook by Robb Walsh, which is actually more history than cookbook; here’s a new book that will be out in a few days and looks promising.
(Oh, and why is a Chicago food podcast doing a segment from Texas? Because I’m a Chicago food podcaster, but the podcast is about anything that interests me. And hopefully you, too.)