Renowned food critic Mike Sutter released his annual list of the top ten barbeque restaurants in Austin this week. The list has garnered attention both locally and across the country, largely because it stands in stark contrast to the results of the same project in 2013.
Only two of the restaurants that made the cut in 2013, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew and Franklin Barbecue, remained in the top ten for 2014. Neither Stiles nor Franklin, however, despite their repeat honors on this list, were good enough to claim the top spot on Sutter’s list.
Coming in above all competition this year was La Barbecue. Located at 1200 East Sixth Street, La Barbecue is a trailer owned by Leann Mueller and run by pitmaster John Lewis. Sutter seems to credit Lewis with La Barbecue’s rise to the top of list, citing his work ethic and involvement in all phases of the food preparation process as vital to the culture of great food that the restaurant has created.
“He’s also there welding fire pits, chopping wood and ordering prime brisket for its waterfall gloss. This might be Leann Mueller’s trailer, and before that her brother and former Top 10 Champion John Mueller’s domain, but it’s John Lewis’s world now,” wrote Sutter.
Of the eight honorees from 2013 who failed to make the list this year, two have closed their doors, The JMueller Trailer (No. 1 on the list last year) and Texas Rib Kings. The heavy turnover in the winning establishments between years seems to be explained by Sutter as result of the rapid expansion of Austin’s high quality barbeque scene.
“The BBQ City Limits series has covered 52 Austin barbecue shops and trailers and counting. These ten are the best of that series up to now. At least until Coopers of Llano and the extended Black family of Lockhart open their Austin branches this year. But we’ll save that list for another campaign,” wrote Sutter in his opening summary.