Upcoming Events: John Mueller Brings His Barbecue to Houston

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Don't have the time or gas money to burn driving out to legendary barbecue spots like Smitty's, Kreuz, Franklin, Snow's or Louie Mueller, but have a hankering for classic Central Texas-style 'cue? You're in luck, then, because highly-regarded pitmaster John Mueller is headed to Houston for a one-day-only charity event.

Eat for a Cause is hosting Q for a Cause with Mueller on Saturday, February 9 from noon to 4 p.m. at Cottonwood in Garden Oaks.

Admission is free and will feature all the staples of Central Texas barbecue, including brisket and sides as well as Mueller's famous hand-made sausage and beef ribs. All of the proceeds from barbecue sales will be donated to the Houston Housing Authority to help provide permanent housing for Houston's homeless veterans.

Mueller is a third-generation pitmaster from the famous Louie Mueller family in Taylor, Texas, and has been featured everywhere from the Travel Channel's No Reservations to Texas Monthly, which noted his barbecue as some of the best in the state. Live entertainment for the afternoon will be provided by The Palisades, a local bluegrass and rockabilly band, so come on out and pretend you're kicking back in the Hill Country on Cottonwood's welcoming patio.

In burger news, two joints have brand-new burgers on their menus that are worth checking out, starting with The Counter. The build-your-own-burger chain that lets you personalize your burger from over 300,000 possible combinations has now added one more component into the mix: bison, sourced from Blackwing Organic Meats in North and South Dakota. The Counter announced last week that the popular protein will now be a permanent option on its menu, which also features beef, turkey and veggie patties. Bison has less fat, fewer calories and less cholesterol than skinless chicken and a lot more flavor.

"Bison has been a favorite choice of fans when we've featured it on our Market Select menu. Guests will now be able to build their own bison burger every day," said Andrew Evans, Director of Culinary Operations. "The Counter's bison burgers are made from certified organic bison that are 100% grass fed and antibiotic- and hormone-free."

Meanwhile at Kenny & Ziggy's, owner Ziggy Grueber has added four specialty hamburgers to his deli menu that feature meat from none other than Jersey's famous Pat LaFrieda & Sons Meat Purveyors, which is known for its custom burger blends. LaFrieda, which first opened in 1920s Brooklyn around the same time as Ziggy's grandfather was opening his first deli on Broadway, has customized a blend for Kenny & Ziggy's that includes prime short ribs and chuck - a blend created by Pat himself.

Of the four new burgers, you'll find: The Boulevard Big Boy, with smoked Gouda cheese, Black Label bacon, lettuce and tomato, topped with onion strings and housemade BBQ sauce; the Zigalicious, with house pastrami, aged Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing; Mike's Mashugana with bleu cheese, Black Label bacon, sautéed mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, crispy onion rings and bleu cheese dressing; and The Big Reubowski, the burger that first appeared last year (with a contest to name it), that's a cross between a burger and a reuben with house-cured corned beef, aged Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing.

All burgers feature eight-ounce patties cooked to order, and come on your choice of challah or ciabatta with a side of french fries for $16.95. Sweet potato fries may be substituted for $1 or onion rings for $1.50.

During the entire month of February, Arturo's Uptown Italiano is celebrating its seventh year in business with the second annual Arturo's Ravioli Festival. Ravioli is one of the dishes Arturo's does best, and the festival will feature some old favorites such as the chicken-and-mushroom-stuffed Ravioli di Arturo's alongside some new ones: veal and artichoke, ground lamb, osso buco, smoked trout, pancetta and venison sausage are just a few of the raviolo on the radar. And for dessert? Chocolate ravioli.

Along with its regular menu and specials, Arturo's will offer a Festival Menu of different ravioli that will rotate every other day. This Festival Menu will run from Friday, February 1 until February 28, with a blow-out array of these pasta "love letters" on Valentine's Day.

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