11 restaurants that are making Houston’s new Texas barbecue empire

By on October 18, 2021 0

Gone are the days of Houston playing the second fiddle to the more famous and older barbecue grills in central Texas. Houston, with its wealth of new artisan barbecue practitioners and pitmasters armed with daring and skill, is now recognized as a legitimate and enviable destination for Texas smoked meats in its own right.

The husband and wife team of pitmaster Patrick Feges and chef Erin Smith still have their original Greenway barbecue store. But their new full-service restaurant in Spring Branch has more seating and a patio on which to enjoy exemplary smoked meats (including pulled pork and blood sausage); smoked queso nachos; Grilled cheese with brisket and chili; fried chicken with gochujang barbecue sauce and Alabama white sauce; suspension steak in a porcini crust; and a jaw-dropping double cheeseburger. 8217 Longue Pointe, 346-319-5339; fegesbbq.com

Roegels Barbecue Bar-B-Cuban Sandwich

JR Cohen / Contributor

Roegels Barbecue Co.

Owners Russell and Misty Roegels put their hearts into this restaurant that excels in both traditional Central Texas barbecue (brisket, pork ribs, turkey and sausage) and creative specialty sandwiches such as the pastrami Reuben, the Cuban stuffed with smoked meats and smoked turkey katsu. Don’t miss the Texas caviar, the dill potato salad or the wonderful homemade pickled vegetables. 2223 S. Voss, 713-977-8725; roegelsbarswick.com

Burns Original BBQ Rib & Rib Plates & Sandwiches

Burns Original BBQ Rib & Rib Plates & Sandwiches

JC Reid / CMG

Original Burns barbecue

Today Burns has a new branch within Kroger’s Summerwood supermarket, but his Acres Homes neighborhood joint is the perfect place to enjoy an East Texas barbecue and uncompromising ties, especially sausage. spicy hoops made by the Frenchy family. The meat platters, sandwiches, potatoes and traditional sides are so good the late Anthony Bourdain took note. 8307½ De Priest, 281-999-5559; burnsoriginalbbq.com

Texas red chili with a side of smoked brisket in the Pit Room

Texas red chili with a side of smoked brisket in the Pit Room

JC Reid / Contributor

The pit room

This little restaurant in Montrose offers great barbecue flavors including beef brisket, prime rib, pork ribs, pulled pork and house sausages, accompanied by an exceptional mustard potato salad, charro beans and macaroni and cheese. Also on offer: à la carte tacos (brisket, pulled pork, chicken), morning breakfast tacos, chips and queso, chicharrones with hot sauce and chili that can be loaded into a Frito pie. The restaurant’s adjacent bar, the Patio, is the perfect place to stretch out and enjoy the best of the Pit Room. 1201 Richmond, 281-888-1929; thepitroom.com

Blood Bros. Char siu Smoked Pork Belly Fried Bao Buns  BBQ

Blood Bros. Char siu Smoked Pork Belly Fried Bao Buns BBQ

JC Reid / Contributor

BBQ Blood Bros.

Traditional barbecue, yes, but this innovative team (brothers Robin and Terry Wong and pitmaster Quy Hoang) have made a name for themselves with Asian-inspired offerings so good as Blood Bros. now has an outpost in the new Resorts World casino in Las Vegas. These menu specialties may include steamed breast-tip buns, gochujang-glazed pork ribs, smoked banh mi pork char siu, a bowl of pork belly vermicelli, smoked chicken karaage, Thai chili peanut butter baby back ribs and togarashi and shishito sausages. It’s those kinds of exciting things that made this Bellaire joint a success. 5425 Bellaire, 713-664-7776; sangbrosbbq.com

Barbecue platter at Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue

Barbecue platter at Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue

JC Reid / Contributor

Pizzitola Bar-B-Cue

A new pit chef, Eudel Hernandez, and new menu items that have reinvigorated the range of smoked meat classics in one of the oldest (and old school) in town. Discover the smoked beef brisket burger; barbecue fajitas; chips and queso with minced breast, sausage or pulled pork; and specials like Friday’s smoked brisket enchiladas and Saturday’s apple and pulled pork fritters sandwich. 1703 Berger, 713-227-2283; pizzitolasbbq.com

Meat and sides include, clockwise from bottom left, pork ribs, smoked sausage, potato salad, beans, pulled pork and turkey au Pinkerton's Barbecue, the Houston-based restaurant that opened in downtown San Antonio in February.  For Mike Sutter's story on Pinkerton's and the opening of another high profile restaurant in downtown San Antonio, Landrace at the Thompson San Antonio Hotel.

Meat and sides include, clockwise from bottom left, pork ribs, smoked sausage, potato salad, beans, pulled pork and turkey au Pinkerton’s Barbecue, the Houston-based restaurant that opened in downtown San Antonio in February. For Mike Sutter’s story on Pinkerton’s and the opening of another high profile restaurant in downtown San Antonio, Landrace at the Thompson San Antonio Hotel.

Mike Sutter / Staff

Pinkerton BBQ

This winning fusion of old-school traditions paired with new-school trends (there’s a full cocktail bar) delivers solid Central Texas-style barbecue. Beef brisket, prime rib, pork ribs, turkey, smoked sausage and blood sausage are delicious with good sides, including rice with jalapeño cheese and smoked duck and sausage jambalaya. 1504 Airline, 713-802-2000; pinkertonsbarswick.com

Fried and blackened catfish with dirty rice and creamy oatmeal at Gatlin's.

Fried and blackened catfish with dirty rice and creamy oatmeal at Gatlin’s.

JC Reid / Contributor

Gatlin’s barbecue

This family business has grown from a small family cottage in Shady Acres to a sophisticated restaurant in Oak Forest. But it hasn’t lost any of its “made with love” charm. Go up to the counter and contemplate the menu of meats by the pound (breast, sausage, pulled pork, chicken, ribs), barbecue sandwiches and baked potatoes, wings covered with a variety of sauces pleasing to the lips and specialty sandwiches including pastrami, turkey pastrami and smoked bologna. Save room for collard greens, smoked corn, candied yams, baked beans and what could be the best dirty rice in town. 3510 Ella, 713-869-4227; gatlinsbbq.com

Fainmous BBQ, 1201 Oliver, is one of over 50 black-owned restaurants participating in Houston Black Restaurant Week 2020, July 10-19.

Fainmous BBQ, 1201 Oliver, is one of over 50 black-owned restaurants participating in Houston Black Restaurant Week 2020, July 10-19.

Fainmous barbecue / Fainmous barbecue

Fanmeux barbecue

The Tennessee-style barbecue is what sets Fainmous apart, especially the pulled pork with a spicy vinegar and tomato barbecue sauce. There’s a lot to love about this Sawyer Yards restaurant next to the Urban South Brewery: ribs, breast, whole and pulled chicken; specialty pork and rib burger sandwiches, traditional sandwiches topped with brisket, pulled pork and sausage; and sides of green beans, spinach casserole, macaroni and cheese, corn salad and chickpea salad. 1201 Olivier, 713-728-9663; fainmousbbq.com

Barbecue, okra and fried catfish at Ray's BBQ Shack

Barbecue, okra and fried catfish at Ray’s BBQ Shack

JC Reid / Contributor

Ray’s barbecue hut

A staple of Third Ward’s barbecue, this family-run eatery is one of the few that continues to offer smoked meats Southeast Texas style, along with dinners of smoked blood sausage (spicy or mild) and fried shrimp. and catfish. In addition to the brisket, sausage, and pork ribs, the meat platters include Chicago-style ribs and smoked oxtails (Thursdays only). Po’boys, burgers and baked potatoes loaded too. Don’t pass up the fried corn on the cob or the smoked macaroni and cheese. 3929 Old Spanish Trail, 713-748-4227; raysbbqshack.com

Three-meat platter (brisket, sausage, pork chop) with beans and potato salad at Killen's Barbecue photographed July 18, 2018 in Houston, TX.

Three-meat platter (brisket, sausage, pork chop) with beans and potato salad at Killen’s Barbecue photographed July 18, 2018 in Houston, TX.

Nick de la Torre / For the chronicle

Killen’s barbecue

Chef Ronnie Killen helped put Houston on the barbecue menu when he opened his first restaurant in 2013 at Pearland. Today there’s a second barbecue restaurant at The Woodlands, and Killen’s signature smoked meats are on the Texas and Southern comfort food menu at his restaurant Killen’s in the Heights. No matter how you slice it, Killen remains the gold standard. 3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, 281-458-2272; killensbarswick.com and 101 Heights, 713-637-4664; killens.com

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