Culture

Texas BBQ Roundup

One of the most important cuisines in Texas is BBQ. Whilst living in Houston we enjoyed traveling around the state indulging in “the trinity” – succulent brisket, juicy sausages and tasty pork ribs (and of course mountains of mac and cheese!). Our compass was Texas Monthly’s 2021 list of BBQ joints which led to us small towns, the rural outskirts of DWF and just down the road from our Houston townhouse to Buffalo Heights!

Top 10 Texas Monthly BBQs

Goldee’s (1)

Ali: Located in the middle of nowhere (outskirts of DFW) we lined up early around 8am! The waiting was pretty chilled out with lots of camp chairs and water to quench the already warm temperature. We were excited to try the food after seeing the youtube doco and of course Goldee’s earning the coveted number one spot on the Texas Monthly BBQ list. Very friendly staff, great meats and different sides such as tasty pork hash. The whole trip was a great experience.

  • Total 18.5 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 5 Sides 4 Vibe 5)  

Mark: Turkey and sausage were great, pork belly was amazing. Pork ribs ok, brisket good but not Truth or Interstellar! Everything good with a lot of greats. The effort with the sides and homemade bread was noticeable. 

  • Total  18.5 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 5 Sides 4.5 Vibe 4.5)  

InterStellar (2)

Ali: Had fun chatting with other barbeque aficionados in the line. The best brisket we’ve had (yes, better than Truth!) and peach tea glazed pork belly was fantastic. Smoked scallop potatoes was a prize winning side. Complete package. 

  • Total 19.5 (Brisket 5 Other Meats 5 Sides  5 Vibe 4.5)         

Mark: Brisket was an amazing balance of crisp bark and internal moisture, just the right amount of smoke. Soft, rich, balanced, well seasoned – wow! Pork belly with glaze ticked the new-school BBQ box, fantastic execution. 

  • Total 19 (Brisket 5 Other Meats 5 Sides 4.5 Vibe 4.5)

Truth BBQ (3)

Ali: Our local (about the only place we could walk in Houston!), so there were many trips over the two years. Was my benchmark for brisket around the state and not many other BBQ joints came close. Excellent fried Brussels sprouts, tatertot casserole and mac and cheese made the choice of sides extremely difficult. Fun serving staff, with the occasional dig at our Aussie accents!

  • Total 19.5 (Brisket 5 Other Meats 4.5 Sides  5 Vibe 5)

Mark: Local brisket benchmark, other meats also very good (the Carolina pulled pork inspired some home cooking). Solid, slightly new-school sides game. Great specials from time to time. This was our “go to” when introducing visitors to Texas BBQ and what brisket should taste like. Queues got worse after its elevation in the Texas Monthly BBQ list… 

  • Total 19 (Brisket 5 Other Meats 4.5 Sides  5 Vibe 4.5)

Burnt Bean Co (4)

Ali: First time we visited on Friday, amazingly no line! Importantly the most succulent turkey I’ve ever tasted! Good sides – hot Cheeto queso maco, street corn pudding were tasty. Building was beautiful too, one of my favourite BBQ joints.

  • Total 19.5 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 5 Sides  5 Vibe 5)

Mark: Brisket – lean, minimal bark, nice meaty flavour with just the right seasoning. Stylistically different to other entrants and maybe not quite my style. Pork ribs were amazing, just had to look at them to get the meat to fall off the bone! Turkey was fanstatic. Sides ok, traditional with a twist. 

  • Total 18 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 5 Sides 4 Vibe 4.5)

LeRoy and Lewis Barbeque (5)

Ali: Caravan at trendy Austin food truck area. We both had a “Two meat, Two sides” plate with the selection comprising brisket, sausage, beef cheek and barbacoa along with kale salad, pork hash, cheesy cauliflower and kimchi. This was pretty different mix of items to the other BBQs we’d been to, so hard to compare.

  • Total 16.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 4.5)

Mark: Great, but not sure about number 5 rating

  • Total 17 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 4.5 Sides 4 Vibe 4 )

Franklin (7)

Mark: Not a full review, chanced a late line-up and missed the brisket by five people so this is based on a review of the ‘scraps plate’. Meats were very good, burnt ends ticked the box, sides were old school and a bit underwhelming. Not sure about doing a full line up from 6am (which is probably controversial!)

Panther City (10)

Ali: Arrived late in the day so not all options available. Would have been good to try a bigger selection but the meats and sides still available were really tasty. Limited options was also good in some ways as it forced us to have something other than mac and cheese!

  • Total 17 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides  5 Vibe 4)

Mark: Brisket well seasoned, solid bark, nicely smoked but not super moist. Pork ribs had a beautiful sweet glaze and crispy skin, well rendered, a highlight. Sides of Flako’s half baked potato salad was amazing – salty, full flavoured with bacon bits and herbs. Creamed corn was nicely spiced with paprika, good balance of acid and heat. Set a good sides benchmark. 

  • Total 17.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4.5 Sides  5 Vibe 4)

Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ

2M Smokehouse

Ali: Enjoyable stop on the way home from San Antonio. Had both lean and moist brisket which were both tasty. Mexican street corn was excellent and mac and cheese was good. Chilled vibe and good eating area, comfortable even in the heat.

  • Total 17 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 5 Vibe 4.5) 

Mark: Brisket lovely, soft, melt in the mouth. Lean end had good meat flavour. Amazing street corn side, creamy sauce with just the right acid. Mac and cheese with pork skins was great. Beef sasauge was great, pity we missed the pork link.

  • Total 17  (Brisket 4 Other MeatsSides  4.5 Vibe 4.5) 

Blood Bros BBQ

Ali: Really liked the Asian/BBQ flavour twist here with favourite items being brisket fried rice (always ordered a large serve for leftover!), Bahn Mi and smoked gouda mac and cheese. So many specials and other menu items.

  • Total 18 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 5 Sides 5 Vibe 4)

Mark: Definitely new school with fusion influences, not traditional BBQ so potentially polarizing. Visited numerous times, good Friday lunch spot near work. Brisket solid but the highlights were other items on the menu such as peanut sticky chili ribs and bahn mi (#nontraditionalBBQ). Sides were new school and well executed – brisket fried rice and smoke gouda mac and cheese were very memorable.  

  • Total 17.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4.5 Sides 5 Vibe 4) 

Brett’s BBQ Shop

Ali: New location out near Katy (combined with a trip to Bass Pro!) Solid BBQ offering and well executed basics but since we’d been to quite a few joints by then, there was nothing really special to grab me.

  • Total  16 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 4) 

Mark: Sunday trip out to Katy, short line. Brisket moist end was nice with a solid bark, good pepper flavour. Lean end was ok, not so soft and a little dry. Pork ribs were tasty and sweet, meat was soft but held together. Mac and cheese was very cheesy, rich and pleasant. Coleslaw was fresh with carrot, herbs and red onion all a good foil for the meat. Corn bread casserole was a highlight which was sweet, soft, rich but balanced.

  • Total  16.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides 4.5 Vibe 4) 

Butter’s BBQ

Ali: Central Texas BBQ in Sinton (on the way home from Port Aransas). First place I’d seen turkey kept in liquids to keep it moist. The location and other diners were probably more interesting than the BBQ which was nice, but nothing spectacular.

  • Total  16 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4 Vibe 3.5) 

Mark: Small town Texas, no line but unfortunately no barbacoa. Brisket was nice but not not fall apart. Bark was ok but not overly spiced. Pork belly brisket was interesting – super soft and creamy. Ribs were a winner, soft but staying on the bone with sweet glaze. Mac and cheese was not memorable, coleslaw good, elote was great. Overall good but not great.

  • Total  16 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 3.5) 

Corkscrew BBQ

Ali: Long wait and by the time we got to the counter – there was no turkey (very sad for Will) and no mac and cheese! Meats were tasty and the sides which were available were good. Cobbler was memorable. It was fun to walk around the streets of old town Spring afterwards (good for the digestion).

  • Total  16 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 4) 

Mark: Long wait which was a big surprise. Brisket was great with crisp bark and good flavour balance. Wet end held flavour and almost better than lean end. Pork ribs very generous and nice smoke, good moisture, just great. Jalapeno sausage was well balanced with pepper and chili. Limited sides due to sell out – coleslaw surprisingly fresh, loaded potato was good, potato salad nothing to write home about. Cobbler was great but would have been amazing with more crumb!

  • Total  16.5 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 4) 

Distant Relatives

Ali: Food truck at Meanwhile Brewing, a lovely spot for lunch and a drink. Meat had particular sauces – brisket with mustard seed butter and pulled pork with tamarind mollases BBQ sauce. Sides a bit different – black eyed peas and burnt ends, sweet potato mash. 

  • Total 16.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4 Vibe 5)

Mark: Brisket was great – super moist, rich and beautifully soft. Thin bark was peppery with enough firmness to hold together. Pulled pork just ok. Sides were well balanced and well executed. Nice and relaxed beer garden vibe. 

  • Total 16.5 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4.5 Vibe 4)

Feges BBQ

Ali: Suburban shopping centre, not crowded. Lots of different sides options available and more innovative than most BBQ joints. Cornbread was nice, particularly with lots of cinnamon butter. Brisket and ribs were ok.

  • Total  15.5 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 4.5 Vibe 3.5) 

Mark: Brisket ok, lean a bit too lean but nice bark. Moist end nice but not Truth! Pork ribs nice and rich, good smoke in sauce. Sides were pretty good – braised Korean kale was spicy and braising liquor was aromatic and full. Mac and cheese not memorable. Moroccan spiced carrots were nice – baby heirloom carrots in a tasty glaze. Corn bread was soft with rich cinnamon butter.

  • Total  15 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 3.5) 

Hays Co

Ali: Brisket was not very good. Sides were ok, but overall not up to the calibre of recent BBQ visits (i.e. when compared with Panther City or Interstellar).

  • Total 14 (Brisket 3 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4 Vibe 3.5) 

Mark: On way back from Canyon Lake, no line at 11am on Memorial Day! Brisket was a bit meh, large section with unrendered fat cap left on, dissapointing. Bark firm, though rest of the meat not that tender and needed sauce. Pork ribs nice, gently sweet and peppered. Twice baked potato bake was great, maybe it had blue cheese added? Hatch mac and cheese was a nice touch. Coleslaw not memorable. Not worth the detour…

  • Total  13.5 (Brisket 2.5 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4 Vibe 3.5) 

Killen’s BBQ

Ali: Came after running a half marathon, just had a chopped brisket sandwich so hard to do full review. Was enjoyable lunch post-racing.

Mark: Brisket – great bark, smokey flavour, nice soft meat which worked well when combined with well rendered fat. Pork ribs were nice though small serve (due to size of brisket serve!) Sides were ok but not outstanding – mac and cheese and coleslaw. Line was ok, but maybe not worth the drive out to Pearland. Tables outside were nice and a bit more polished than some other venues.

  • Total  15 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 3.5 Vibe 4) 

La Barbecue

Ali: Long, hot wait made better by a) brining umbrellas for some shade b) line beers! However, was a little tipsy by the time we got to BBQ eating! In the end was a bit disappointing and probably should have spent our time waiting at a different Austin BBQ.

  • Total  15 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 3.5 Vibe 4) 

Mark: Long wait, two beers in the line made it go faster. Brisket was dry with a peppery bark, underwhelming. Chipotle sausage had good balance of flavour.

  • Total  15 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 3.5 Vibe 4) 

LaVaca BBQ

Ali: Super friendly staff, they had a map of the US to mark travelers from all the different states, and post-it notes for those from overseas which we filled in! Had a non-traditional smoked tamale. Came with free Blue Bell icecream! Hard to do full review as didn’t have typical fare.

Mark: Small town Texas – two meat, two side! Brisket was very moist and mostly falling apart, almost sweet. Bark was thin but nice. Pork ribs glazed with a great sweet sauce, soft and very pleasant. Coleslaw super fresh and crunchy. Mac and cheese rich and creamy. Corn bread was sweet and served with a Texas hot sauce which was great. Family store, great service, worth a trip!

  • Total  17.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 4.5) 

Micklethwait Craft Meats

Ali: Food truck in Austin, one of our early BBQ experiences. There was a nice outdoor section, luckily with shade as it was pretty hot by this stage of the day, and free beers! We had brisket, a giant dinosaur sized beef rib and some really tasty sides (lemon poppy coleslaw, citrus beet salad and jalapeno cheese grits). The beef rib was yummy and the sides were great but the brisket was a bit of a letdown and drier than some we’ve had.

  • Total  17 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 5 Vibe 4.5) 

Mark: Brisket and huge beef rib. Brisket not as good as Truth. Beef rib was enough to feed a family of four! Sides were interesting take on traditional items.

  • Total  17 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 4 Sides 5 Vibe 4.5) 

Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue

Ali: Went with some Houston visitors so had lots of people to feed, hence could try a lot of items on the menu! Brisket, burnt ends, ribs, turkey. Sides of potato salad, corn bread and bacon coleslaw. Very yummy and ended up stuffed full.

  • Total  17.5 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 4.5 Sides 4 Vibe 4.5) 

Mark: Can’t find the formal review… Going on the recollection of good vibes and tasty BBQ!

  • Total  17.5 (Brisket 4.5 Other Meats 4.5 Sides 4 Vibe 4.5) 

Pinkerton’s

Ali: Apparently I said the flavour of the brisket was little less smokey and more meaty than usual! Fun, crowded dining room.

  • Total  16.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 4.5) 

Mark: Sunday lunch had a busy dining room but not excessively long wait. Thick brisket slices, good bark with nice seasoning. Soft and well rendered even in some of the larger fattier sections. Ribs were nice with a sweet glaze, well seasoned. Boudin was fantastic, flavoursome with light kick of spice. Coleslaw and mac and cheese were fine. Not a bad location, would be happy to go back.

  • Total  16.5 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4.5 Sides 3.5 Vibe 4.5) 

Other BBQs

The Pit Room

Ali: Houston institution, one of the only BBQ joints which is open for dinner. Still early in our BBQ progression – we had brisket, pork ribs and sausages. Okra and mac and cheese for sides.

  • Total  15 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4 Vibe 4) 

Mark: Before we knew that BBQ for dinner is not the done thing!

  • Total  15 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4 Vibe 4) 

J-Bar-M Barbeque

Ali: Had a chopped brisket sandwich with mac and cheese. Not that memorable but easy BBQ location – line not too long, nice beer garden and good for hanging out with friends. We even got Marty out to the other side of the I69!

  • Total  15.5 (Brisket 3.5 Other Meats 3.5 Sides 4 Vibe 4.5) 

Mark: Two meat and two side plate. Brisket soft but not quite melt in your mouth. Nice soft pork ribs. Good sides (mac and cheese, beans), but not quite Truth. Worth a trip.

  • Total  16 (Brisket 4 Other Meats 4 Sides 4 Vibe 4) 

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