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la Barbecue

4.7 760 votes

2401 E Cesar Chavez Street


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la Barbecue # 28 Austin Restaurant
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Ivan Collins Last updated on Mar 26, 2022 by

It’s no secret Austin, Texas is famous for its BBQ with the world renowned Franklin’s hosting Barack Obama in 2014, the legendary Salt Lick in Dripping Springs serving up day trips for visitors since well before I got here in the 90s, and nearby Taylor Texas playing grandaddy to it all with Louie Mueller BBQ since 1949. You may be interested to learn there’s a whole juicy history behind Austin’s newest star, la Barbecue, too.

I was lucky enough to get an inside taste of some of the BBQ drama when a close friend of mine partnered up with John Mueller to forge his BBQ comeback in a trailer off of South 1st shortly after Texas Monthly published the mouthwatering saga,“Of Meat and Men” in 2012. The family tree reads like this: Louie Mueller started his family BBQ dynasty in 1949 in Taylor, Texas. His son Bobby Mueller took over and taught the family secrets to his daughter LeAnn and son John. Aaron Franklin worked with John and bought his dad’s legendary BBQ pit at some point when John took a break from the business. Bobby and John have since passed away, leaving Aaron Franklin operating Franklin’s and LeAnn Mueller behind la Barbecue, which started as a food truck in 2012 and later went full brick and mortar in the old Mongers location on South 1st. Got all that? It’s a mouthful!

We recently hosted friends from Miami who wanted to try the legendary BBQ of Austin and didn’t arrive in time to join the line at Franklin’s or head out to the Salt Lick in Dripping Springs. So they chose the more manageable option la Barbecue instead and I joined them. We arrived at 1pm and there was a decent sized line out the door, but it moved quickly and we were able to get seated in ~15 minutes. The inside wasn’t too packed as it was a gorgeous day and everybody was eager for some outdoor seating where there are plenty of tables. We ordered 2 lbs of brisket ($60), a pound of pork ribs ($27), a quart of macaroni and cheese ($19), and a pint of chipotle coleslaw ($6.50), as well as a few beers and a margarita. That was plenty of food for four people. All items were rock solid, except I wasn’t overly impressed with the brisket which is the staple by which I measure my BBQ. It was certainly tasty, but it wasn’t the melt in your mouth version I expected as a rival to Franklin’s. Maybe it was an off day, and my expectations were admittedly high, but I was hoping for better. My margarita was on the scrawny side as well making me think I should have ordered a beer in hindsight. We did appreciate the ability to get in, order, dine, and leave relatively quickly.

Pork Ribs, Brisket and more at la Barbecue

To sum up, la Barbecue is by far easier to get to than Salt Lick and the line is considerably shorter than Franklins. But I simply can’t justify a high ranking in our restaurant guide after that visit. I will happily give them another go in the future if they invite us in. We are nothing if not lovers of meat and second chances.

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