Taylor is a town known for its good barbeque. It may not be quite as renowned as Lockhart or Llano, but it has its own special character and a barbeque tradition, which goes back several generations. Taylor's barbeque history intersects the legend of one of the best known families in Texas barbeque, the Mikeska brothers, six of whom have been in the barbeque business spread all over Central Texas in towns like Columbus, Smithville (now defunct), Temple, and El Campo (3 locations) with brother Rudy in Taylor.
The Mikeskas have quite a reputation and a lot of press coverage going, largely driven by the charming idea of six Czech brothers cooking barbeque all over Central Texas for 40+ years — now carrying on into another generation. The problem is, despite the romance involved, it's not worth much if the barbeque doesn't live up to the reputation. Having tried three of the Mikeskas' locations, I have to admit that so far, the reality falls short of the legend.
Rudy Mikeska's is right on Business 79 in downtown Taylor, around the corner from Taylor Café, and on the same block with Louie Mueller's — they actually have adjoining parking lots. Tim Mikeska, who goes by the name Rudy, currently runs the restaurant, but he is actually the son of the founder. He's the head of the whole cooking clan, so you'd expect his home restaurant to be the best of the lot; but there's a lot of autonomy, so there may be a Mikeska's I haven't been to yet which is better.
The menu at Rudy Mikeska's offers all the usual meats — brisket, chicken, pork ribs, and sausage, plus lamb ribs and ham steaks for something more unusual. In the times I've been there, they have yet to have lamb ribs available, but after two visits, I've now tried everything else. The chicken is passable but a bit dry. The pork ribs have virtually no flavor and are a bit tough. The ham steaks are interesting, but are reminiscent of shoe leather with some good flavor to them. The low point of my meals there has been the brisket, which always seems to be consistently dry and overcooked. The rub is decent and mildly peppery, but the meat fails on consistency and flavor. The high point of the meats is the sausage. It's short links of coarse ground, fairly greasy meat, stuffed at Taylor Meat Market to the specifications of the original Rudy. It's pretty tasty, with a mixture of the cayenne pepper, which is characteristic of Taylor sausage, and a hefty extra dose of black pepper. The result is quite spicy but very good. Overall, aside from the sausage, the meats are unremarkable to poor. Not what I expected from such a legendary barbeque family.