Many a barbecue joint is named the Shack. Louie Mueller could be the Court. Not only is its building a former basketball court/gymnasium, its place in the history of Texas barbecue is unquestionably regal. Its ownership is a dynasty—founded by Louie Mueller in 1949, passed down to his son Bobby in 1974, and assumed by Bobby’s son Wayne in 2008—and its inner circle has set standards for the realm, starting decades ago with skilled pitmaster Fred Fountaine, whose tricks of the trade made the barbecue a phenomenon. He shared that knowledge with Bobby, who presided over the restaurant’s rise to legendary status. But mainly Louie Mueller is a court because it has served its subjects wisely and well. It bestows upon them lavishly peppered brisket, beef ribs of monumental heft, and snappy house-made jalapeño sausage oozing with beefy deliciousness. Pork is treated with equal care, smoke penetrating every molecule of both the ribs and the shoulder that’s destined to become pulled pork. Finally, the enterprise’s size and character assure its place among barbecue royalty: vast rooms filled with a fragrant, smoky haze, walls cured to the color of post oak, an array of venerable wooden tables and chairs. Louie Mueller is the most enlightened of monarchies. Long may it reign.
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