'Cue for a Cause

BBQ Boss John Mueller Heading to Houston This Weekend

Famed Austin pitmaster John Mueller is returning to Houston for a one-day-only charity barbecue.

By Katharine Shilcutt November 19, 2013

John Mueller's brisket is some of the best in the state.

Third-generation Texas pitmaster John Mueller is a bit of a celebrity, to say the least. The Austin-based Mueller is the grandson of legendary pitmaster Louie Mueller, the barbecue restaurant in Taylor which is often called the best in the state (along with the dueling Kreuz Market and City Market 'cue joints in Luling). Mueller spent many rough years battling alcoholism and other demons, alienating more than a few fans and family members along the way, but bounced back in 2011 when he opened J Mueller BBQ in South Austin.

Today, J Mueller BBQ has a four-and-a-half star rating on Yelp with nearly 100 reviews—most of which reserve the greatest praise for his brisket and ribs—and recently earned a spot on Texas Monthly's list of the 50 best barbecue joints in the world.

TM calls Mueller "the dark prince of Texas barbecue" and his food "out of this world." The Austin joint has lines every day that it's open, so it should come as no surprise that when John Mueller heads to Houston this weekend for a one-day charity barbecue, you should expect to wait in line too.

Local charity Eat for a Cause brought Mueller to Houston earlier this year, where he and a team of volunteers cooked a feast at Cottonwood to benefit the Houston Housing Authority. Even Mayor Annise Parker showed up to help serve. Mueller sold half a ton of barbecue in only two hours, which raised $7,500 to help the HHA and the Coalition for the Homeless provide housing for homeless veterans.

Lines at last year's Q for a Cause were long, but went quickly.

Eat for a Cause has convinced Mueller to return for another round of Q for a Cause, taking place this weekend, once again at Cottonwood. "John was eager to come back since we had such an enthusiastic and successful response last year," says Kacey Baccus, social media director at Eat for a Cause. And Mueller isn't the only one returning, says Baccus. "Mayor Parker has confirmed that she will be on hand to serve again, too."

Since the meat sold out so quickly last year, Mueller and his team are bringing the big guns this Saturday. "We are cooking twice as much this year," says Baccus, "so we hope to keep all five food lines moving quickly."

On the menu this time around: brisket, beef ribs, turkey, beef sausage, jalapeño boudin, baked squash, potato salad, and pies from Royers in Round Top.

The barbecue will kick off this Saturday at noon, and plans to run until 6 p.m. or until the food is sold out. A live band will provide music and a silent auction will provide even more opportunities to donate to the HHA and the Coalition for the Homeless.

Baccus also teases that a few treats may be in store. "We may have some other food surprises, but we aren't publicizing them as they will be in very limited quantities and may not come off of the pit until later in the event."

So what's a barbecue fan to do: show up early to avoid the lines, or stay until later to see what Mueller has up his sleeve? I recommend both; bring some friends (four-legged ones are welcome, too), buy some beers, and settle in at Cottonwood for the afternoon.

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