The story of barbecue in central Texas is like reading about ancient Egyptian royalty. There’s dynasties, gods, legends, divided kingdoms, wars, mystery, and the whole thing is vaguely incestuous. The Mueller’s are one of the biggest barbecue dynasties in central Texas and it’s not unusual for any barbecue place worth its smoke to be traced back to them in some way. Stiles Switch isn’t very exceptional in that (although the Cease and Desist order that Wayne Mueller sent certainly adds a juicy twist to the story). But oh, the barbecue is definitely exceptional.
Between the old art-deco building they moved into in the old Violet Crown shopping center and the nostalgic atmosphere inside, Stiles Switch exudes the kind of place you imagine Old Austin being. Right down to the classic Willie Nelson songs playing in the background. This is just a very comfortable place to be in and eat. Despite only being open since 2011, Stiles Switch already feels like an old pair of boots.
But on to the meat of the matter! (Ha! See what I did there?)
Colin got the ever-classic brisket, I opted for the Frito pie and stealing bites of the potato salad. Frito pie is something I discovered since moving to Texas and I must confess I have a weakness for it, as unphotgenic as it is. (I only photographed my own food. I’m not at the point I’m going to places just to review them yet and didn’t want to bug my dining companions. For some really great pictures of meat, check out their Facebook page.) This was a huge helping of Frito pie crafted with pinto beans and scraps of brisket bark and burn ends. Guys, that’s like having a dessert that’s just brownie edges.
The brisket was tender and smoky, with a lovely pink smoke ring that extended about a quarter of an inch in. The macaroni and cheese was covered in a comforting blanket of melty cheese. Finally, there’s a great selection of craft beers (and Shiner) to really make you feel like you’ve distilled the essence of Austin.
This is a must visit when you come to Austin looking for good ‘cue.
(As for the C&D, it seems that an overeager realtor said that a L.Mueller barbecue joint was moving into the space. Wayne Mueller was upset that his father’s name was thrown around like that and told the Stiles’ to knock it off. He also said some unkind things about pitboss Lance Kirkpatrick who had learned the art of barbecue from Louie Mueller.)
(Also, apologies for initially putting this post up in such an unfinished state. WordPress took it upon itself to publish the post waaaaaaay before I was done with it. Gotta figure out what button I pushed wrong there.)