Louie Mueller Barbecue, Taylor
Credit: Nicholas McWhirter

"When God made beef ribs, he did so with the intention that Wayne Mueller would coat them in coarse black pepper and smoke them over post oak," Vaughn says. Louie Mueller was the first stop in Vaughn's virgin Central Texas barbecue tour in 2006, and for good reason. The reverent come in droves to the state's barbecue heartland. Here, Louis Mueller opened a grocery store in 1946 with a barbecue sideshow that begat a dynasty. Son Bobby took over in 1974, grandson Wayne has tended the fires since 2008, and grandson John is also a very well regarded pitman. On that signature rib: "How Mueller can take a tough cut of meat, gnarled with fat, and turn it into beef that's more buttery than a croissant, I'll never know," Vaughn says admiringly.