La Barbecue, one of Austin’s essential smoked meats restaurants, is getting into the hot dog game with a new pop-up cart, debuting next week from co-owners LeAnn Mueller and Ali Clem. Red Rocket Wiener Wagon’s first pop-up will take place at East Austin bar Low Down Lounge at 1412 East Sixth Street on Thursday, October 8 from 6 to 9 p.m., or until everything is sold out.
“I have always loved hot dogs,” says Mueller. She had working on creating an all-beef hot dog for some time, and after eight attempts, she settled on the final recipe for Red Rocket. The red color is intentional because, she explains, “that is what I grew up with and fell in love with,” referring to the Taylor Meat Company wieners she had eaten when she was a kid. She also felt that the bright links, which are currently available at the East Cesar Chavez restaurant for pickups, “weren’t getting the love they deserved.” Hence, the dedicated pop-up cart.
For this first pop-up, Red Rocket’s nine-inch hot dogs will be topped with Mueller’s barbecue chili, a cucumber-sweet pepper kimchi, and house-made pickle relish. The chili is made using ground brisket, leftover sausage, and “some umami flavors” made with Asian ingredients, as she explains.
Alongside the pop-up, Low Down will serve three takeout frozen cocktails created to pair with the hot dogs. Pickup orders will be made in person via a socially distanced line. Since the cart is still being designed, the wieners will be cooked directly from a flat top grill.
Mueller had connected with Low Down co-owner Josh Mongoven to host the pop-up, because “it’s a way for us to help out our neighbors who are struggling with the state shutdown of bars,” she says.
The cart vehicle made sense to Mueller: “It’s fun and nostalgic,” pointing to the iconic image of grabbing a hot dog from a cart in New York City. After Red Rocket’s cart is completed, she is looking to host future pop-ups, potentially Sunday brunches at local bars. The name is a result of a contest that the couple ran on Instagram, selected by Jenny Schipani.
La Barbecue’s “sales are down,” according to Mueller, because they’re not allowing indoor lines or seating (people can place online pickup orders only), “but we are hanging in there. We appreciate all of our customers for their continued support.”