Alison Clem smiles as she holds up a tray of brisket ready for the smoker at la Barbecue in Austin, Texas. Chef LeAnn Mueller with the help of her wife Alison run la Barbecue with recipes and flavors inspired by their travels around the world.

Photo by: Ian Shive

Ian Shive

Big Texas Adventure, Big Appetite!

Ian loves exploring Texas. He’s covering a lot of miles documenting the carnivorous plants of Big Thicket National Preserve; searching for a whooping crane, one of the rarest birds in the world, in Aransas National Wildlife Refuge; and climbing the highest peak in the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.

Sponsored by Travel Texas

February 16, 2022

And he’s still gotta eat! Big Texas adventures mean a big appetite, and la Barbecue in East Austin is the perfect pitstop.

Chefs LeAnn Mueller and Ali Clem know how to dish it up. In a state famous for its barbecue, how do they set themselves apart? It starts with their inspiration. LeAnn says traveling in the U.S. and beyond has been a major influence on their food. For example, Korean ingredients show up twice on the menu: la Barbecue’s new hot dog includes gochujang for a spicy-sweet twist, and the restaurant’s coleslaw incorporates cucumber kimchi. Like Ian, LeAnn is also a photographer and believes that food and art have a lot in common. They’re both visual mediums (we eat with our eyes first, after all!) that are about bringing people together and sharing.

A plate of mouthwatering barbecue with brisket, sausage, potato salad, and so much more from la Barbecue in Austin, Texas. LeAnn Mueller with the help of her wife Alison Clem run la Barbecue with recipes and flavors inspired by their travels around the world.

Photo by: Ian Shive

Ian Shive

Lucky for Ian, he and his camera are getting a closer look at the barbecue process — by getting into the pits with Ali. He follows along as she stokes the fire to just the right (secret) temperature, builds a rich Texas post oak smoke in la Barbecue’s custom-built smokers, and takes the restaurant’s signature brisket through the steps of trimming, seasoning, smoking, wrapping, resting and finally serving.

LeAnn and her wife Ali are a true team who are passionate about their craft. They make their own rules in the barbecue world, as evidenced by the caviar and champagne for sale in the market inside the restaurant (who says you can’t pair barbecue with more luxurious ingredients?). Food is as much about the personality of the people making it as it is about the flavor, and if there are extraordinary people in the kitchen, you are in for an extraordinary meal.

After a day learning about and photographing la Barbecue, Ian not only smelled like la Barbecue’s famous brisket, but he also couldn’t wait to have it for dinner. Starring smoky, juicy meat, tangy housemade pickles, and crunchy white onions, the restaurant’s brisket sandwich is truly worth the trip to Austin, no matter where you are (pro tip: don’t sleep on their ribs or sausages either!). Now the question is, are you ready for another adventure…or a nap?

Ian Shive

Ian Shive is a photographer, author, film and television producer, and conservationist who has been praised as the “leading chronicler of America’s national parks.”

Next Up

Explore These Majestic Sand Dunes... In Colorado

Colorado; a place we usually associate with snow-capped mountains and green grassy meadows, winter skiing, and kayaking in its clear, mirror-like lakes. But did you know the state is also home to a 30-square-mile sand dune field?

Explore the California Redwoods

Coastal redwoods are a type of evergreen tree that can live to be more than 2,000 years old. They are the tallest trees on Earth, with some reaching more than 250 feet tall. Redwoods provide habitats for many forest creatures and pull more carbon out of the air than any other tree species. Where can you find these magnificent perennial plants?

The Ultimate Alaska Road Trip

Explore Alaska on an RV road trip, seeing Denali, Fairbanks, Valdez and everything in between.

Exploring the World’s Longest Cave System

The world’s longest cave system is a gargantuan labyrinth of 420 miles of twists and turns and nooks and crannies, with limestone travertine stalactites dripping from the ceilings.

Every Year, Thousands of Glass Orbs Are Hidden on This Oregon Beach

When you think of treasure hunters, it's typically Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones that come to mind. But modern-day treasure hunters do exist. In the coastal town of Lincoln City, Oregon, beachcombers flock to the sand in hopes of finding one very specific treasure: glass fishing floats.

The House on the Rock Is the Tourist Trap to End All Tourist Traps

Here's the thing about the House on the Rock — it's certainly a sight to behold, but it's no museum.

5 of America's Most Extreme Destinations

Join Discovery as we explore five of America's most extreme destinations: Denali, Alaska (highest peak); Death Valley, California (hottest, driest, and lowest); Prospect Creek, Alaska (coldest); Mt. Waialeale, Hawaii (wettest); and Paradise Visitors Center on Mount Rainier (snowiest).

Pacific Northwest Road Trips

The Pacific Northwest is known for its open spaces, and its vast beauty is easily explored by car.

Day (or Night) at The Museum

Take a private tour of NYC’s American Museum of Natural History from home!

Female Ocean Rower Attempts Record-Breaking Solo Crossing

Updated June 25, 2020 On June 17th, ocean rower Lia Ditton set off on a 20 ft. long rowboat, alone and unsupported, in an attempt to set the fastest ever time for a solo crossing from San Francisco to Hawaii.