Friday, July 30, 2010

Joe's Barbeque Co.

ALVIN: Joe's Barbeque Co.
1400 East Highway 6

Alvin, TX 77512


Open Daily 11-10

Joe's is no doubt designed for the weary traveler. They have a huge parking lot, plenty of seating, a wide menu, and a gift shop to boot. Did I just step into the BBQ version of Cracker Barrel? NO matter, my wife was happy with her order of a CFS sandwich.

Although it was bathed in a sweet thinnish sauce, the meat overall was pretty good. Pork ribs had a thick rub with good flavor, and plenty of smoky bark despite the sauce. The meat was tender without being overcooked. Too little meat of the beef ribs doomed them from the start, and they just had too little smokiness and seasoning to be pleasing. Brisket was better than expected, with a great black crust and a hefty smokering. Bites outside of the crust had little smoke, but each slice was moist, and perfectly tender, but had unfortunately been trimmed of all their fat. A side of potato salad was forgettable, but the smoky beans and crispy cole slaw rounded out the plate. If I was taking the backway from Houston to Galveston again, I surely stop here rather than Central Texas Style BBQ up the road.

Rating ***
Joe's Barbeque on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Central Texas Style BBQ

PEARLAND: Central Texas Style BBQ
4110 Broadway Street

Pearland, TX 77581


Open Daily 10-9

Driving south away from Houston towards Texas's Gulf Coast is not where you'd expect to find smoked meat similar to the hallowed dining rooms of Central Texas, but right in the middle of Pearland is a joint named 'Central Texas Style BBQ'. For effect, I expected to see large smokers on display and meat served on butcher paper. Instead, I got a styrofoam container of tough meat soggy from a bath in a thin acidic sauce.

Even covered in sauce, the brisket was ironically dry. It had been trimmed of all its fat, and held no smoke flavor. The slices were tough to chew, and had little redeeming quality. Ribs had a bit more smoke, but were also dry and chewy. The had good seasoning, but were just average ribs. Pulled pork was a bit better with good smokiness from the crusty bites, but it was hard to separate the meat from the off putting sauce.

As I ate, I felt absolutely duped. Based on the name, I was expecting at least a mediocre attempt at what is truly Central Texas Style BBQ. Instead what I got was a below average version of East Texas 'cue with poor version of the region's sauce. Now I really can't wait to get back to Lockhart.

Rating **
Central Texas Style Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Popular Plates - BBQ Issue

If you don't already know Jane & Michael Stern's work from their tremendous website, then you'll want to get to know them through their recently published magazine "Popular Plates". As far as I can tell, they've released one issue so far, and the inaugural subject is near and dear to's BBQ! And we're not talking grilling, but honest to God smoked meats. As the authors describe it, "This is a magazine for people who love barbecue. In other words, for just about everyone who likes to eat. If barbecue is not your dish, you have our condolences."
You can order it here for $9.95 an issue or $39.95 for a full year of the quarterly mag (not sure why it's 15 cents more expensive to buy the subscription). There's no advertising, so it ain't cheap, but it looks to be packed full of great BBQ info, and there are two full length stories about Texas BBQ alone. Texas is sure to make appearances in the rest of the 'best of' articles. You can check out some of the previews here, but they really just amount to giant teasers. I'll know soon what's contained in these pages, because I've already ordered mine. I'll let y'all know more details when I receive it.

- BBQ Snob

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Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue

HOUSTON: Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue
1703 Shepherd Drive
Houston, TX 77007
Open M-Sat 11-8

Seventy years after they opened, the only open pit resides right here at Pizzitola's, and due to current code requirements in Houston, there won't be another one anytime soon. The owners are more than happy to show it off, but beware, you'll be in some tight quarters. You see the kitchen is grossly undersized for this operation, but they can't expand because that would take a permit, and then they'd need to give up that pit. That pit is what gives the meat here that distinctive flavor along with the hickory wood. Although they use direct heat, there's still plenty of smoky flavor because they smoke with wood rather than using just coals like their open pit brethren at Cooper's and Hard 8.

I got a nice tour of the kitchen, with pitmaster Jose looking on annoyed as we crowded him and his brisket. After the intoxicating aromas emanating from the pit, I couldn't wait to get a few bites of my smoked meat snack. Back in the car, my wife was happy that I brought some of their authentic banana pudding for her to snack on. The chunks of real bananas, whipped cream and Nilla wafers made for an excellent accompaniment to the meat.

The meat wasn't too shabby either. Pork ribs had a generous salt and black pepper rub. The finely ground pepper made it's way into every smoky bite. The meat came easily from the bone, but it was a bit dry. The brisket could have been more moist as well (maybe from the direct heat). Despite that minor flaw, this was solid eating brisket. A generous smokering laid beneath a crispy black crust which was brittle to the tooth. A hefty bit of smoke flavor found its way deep into the meat which was tender with a nice line of fat still clinging to each delicious, peppery slice. The slight dryness was the only flaw, and it may have been due to my visit being in the late afternoon. Another trip at the lunch rush may push this joint to another star, and I'll be sure to try their special recipe sausage on the next trip.

Rating ****
Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

PK's Chicken Sausage

In Shed #2 in the Dallas Farmer's Market, there are a number of prepared and specialty food vendors. I was there yesterday to try the Pecan Lodge BBQ (which was damn good, full review forthcoming) and I happened upon a new vendor selling chicken and rice sausage.

PK's is owned by Patricia Killingsworth who also does catering in Dallas. She came up with this recipe to find a healthier alternative to pork or beef sausages, but without the dry texture normally associated with poultry sausages. When I first saw the sign advertising sausage with rice in it, I assumed it would be like a boudin, but it tasted much more like a traditional smoked sausage. The rice essentially replaces the fat in order to provide the moisture, and the finished product was remarkably good. The product is processed and smoked in Muenster, Texas, and it's available every weekend at the Dallas Farmer's Market.

-BBQ Snob

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Goode Co. Texas BBQ

HOUSTON: Goode Co. Texas BBQ
5109 Kirby Drive

Houston, TX 77098


Open Daily 11-10

Goode Company is BBQ for the people. The masses do not obsess about smokerings and brisket snot, rather they enjoy a bevy of tasty side items, cold beer, and good desserts to go along with their 'cue. Did you say jalapeno cheese bread? Pile it on too. How about a gluten-free menu? Why not. While I consider many of these items superfluous to a great plate of smoked meat, I too see the value in one of the best slices of pecan pie I've sank my teeth into, especially after a long day of barbecuing around Houston. The sweetness was a welcome respite after so much meat, but I had saved a little pocket of my stomach for some more protein.

Duck on a BBQ menu? Yes, in addition to the traditional smoked meats, Goode Co. also offers smoked duck, Czech sausage, and spicy sliced pork. These are items not often found on a BBQ menu in Texas, so I had to add them to my order of brisket and pork ribs. I was thankful for the option to order a plate of just meats, and to not have to take the obligatory bite of potato salad and beans that I had no room for.

I began with the duck. Much of the smoke was trapped in the plasticy skin, so the meat had little smoke. While the flavor was great, and oddly more like pork than duck, the meat was a bit dry. I was hoping for more punch from the spicy pork, and while it was moist and tender, it lacked spice altogether, and had little flavor. Brisket also lacked flavor and smoke. I thought that to be nearly impossible with the kitchen employing the use mesquite smoke, but it may have all disappeared in the fat that completely eliminated from each slice. Not even a dunk in the sauce helped as it tasted more like a roasted tomato sauce than BBQ sauce. Beginning to get discouraged by this member of the elite Texas Monthly Top 50, I moved on to the gem of the plate. Czech sausage was deeply smoky and boldly seasoned. This very coarsely ground sausage had visible chunks of fat interlaced with well spiced meat, all encased in a beautifully snappy casing. Ribs were also good. They tasted like they'd been sitting for a while, but the heavy black pepper rub helped bring them to life. They had a bit more smoke than the rest of the meats, and along with the sausage helped to salvage this otherwise lackluster offering. Now where's the rest of that pie?

Rating ***
Goode Company Barbeque on Urbanspoon

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Friday, July 23, 2010

BBQ in the News

Hanna Raskin at the Observer learns that Momma Raye's BBQ, which has been operating out of a mobile smoker (early FCGBBQ review here), will be putting down roots in Deep Ellum. Thanks to SmokeMasterOne for having a good eye, and to Hanna for the shout out!

Craig 'Meathead' Goldwyn of has two great articles out there on the interweb. First is a taxonomy of regional BBQ sauces, and the second is a primer on pork rib cuts. Both of these are concise explanations of somewhat common knowledge items for BBQ fanatics, but they provide a good introduction for the novice.

D Magazine names their top BBQ joint in Dallas. Taking home the cake is a very deserving Meshack's, while the readers select Sonny Bryan's...again.

Also in the same D issue is a good explanation about why we don't have more mobile food trucks. If you guessed code officials, then you're correct. I guess we won't be seeing any good mobile smokehouses anytime soon.

And finally, the Observer has no love for a new local joint in west Arlington called Tollie's. I'll be independently verifying their story this weekend.

- BBQ Snob

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Take on Turkey Challenge

Have you ever seen what happens to a spoon in a blender? Then watch my video and vote for it on Shady Brook Farms Take on Turkey Challenge website.

Hungry for turkey yet?

- BBQ Snob

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BBQ Book Review - Smokestack Lightning

Title: Smokestack Lightning
Author: Lolis Eric Elie
Published: 2005 (first edition in 1996) by Ten Speed Press

What happens when a photographer and a food writer decide to hop in their aged Volvo and head across the country in search of the quintessential 'cue from nearly every region in the US? You get Smokestack Lightning, which comes served with a serious craving for all things smoked. While it was published some years ago, a bit of the information is outdated. The original road trip took place in 1993, so some 17 years had passed since I finally spent a few hours on a few plane trips finishing this incredible read. This fact actually serves to cement one of the author's main points that we're losing these establishments at a rapid rate. The children who benefit from their pitmaster parents are going off to college without much desire to continue the 16 hour days that they witness as a child.

The book begins with a poetic description of the decrepit Hawkins Grill, and ends back at the same place where patrons tell stories of recent murders and robberies in the area while jazz plays softly on the jukebox. In between, these adventurers overcome surly, bordering on racist proprietors (both men are black), loss of stomach space, and the inevitable car trouble to find some of the most storied, and many backwoods, out-of-the-way joints around the country. Many of the stories stray far from BBQ like the antics in and around the rampant Southside nightlife in Chicago, but no matter the setting, the author successfully brings you into that particular place.

For my obviously biased taste, the book could use more coverage of the Lone Star State You'll find equal billing given to Kansas City, Chicago, Memphis, St. Louis and Owensboro. It's not technically a comprehensive guide, but each joint mentioned is explained in a much deeper manner than simply assigning it a star rating. I also particularly enjoyed some of the quotations amassed along the way. Here's just a sampling:

"In the end, it was made deliciously clear that, whether your taste be for barbacoa, brisket, or ribs, you'll find no better quality and variety than that in Texas."

"They assert that, statements in various magazines to the contrary, you cannot barbecue hamburgers, roasting ears, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, wieners or salami, and it is a shame and disgrace to mention barbecuing in connection with such foolishness."

"We couldn't find even one good place along the Arkansas highways we traveled. Tennessee was a bit better, Georgia and the Carolinas somewhere in between. But Texas!"

"Your stomach which seems suddenly empty even though you just ate. Which is to say it is empty of barbecue and all that goes with it."

This may be the single finest book written about barbeque. By combining the essence of the great American road trip with the medium of smoked meat, it makes for great, mouthwatering prose.

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Greatest BBQ Shirt Ever

I've been enamored with the shirt that Wyatt McSpadden donned during his stint on Food Wars Lockhart since I first saw the episode. It says "Texas BBQ" so much more eloquently and efficiently than any other logo I've seen. I had to have one, but where could I find one? Luckily, I had Wyatt's email address, so I wrote begging for one. A few days later and this bad boy was on my front porch. I plan to wear it all weekend.

Kreuz Market's own Roy Perez

Wyatt tells me that there are a few more available if you contact him at
Oh yeah, you can order a hat too.

-BBQ Snob

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Take on Turkey Challenge

The BBQ Snob is up against some stiff competition in the "Take on Turkey Challenge" presented by Honeysuckle White and Shady Brook Farms. There are 10 bloggers vying for a prize, and I'd appreciate your vote. Just click the link to the Shady Brook Farms contest page and vote for your favorite video. I sure hope it's from Full Custom Gospel BBQ. You can vote once a day, so please come back often!

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que

BELLAIRE: Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que
6601 South Rice Avenue
Bellaire, TX 77401-4012
Open M-Sat 10:30-8:30, Sun 11-4

Other than the good version of a jalapeno hot link, there's not much positive to say about this joint. The ribs were chewy and dry with no smokiness and little overall flavor.

Brisket was dog food grade with loads of chewy unrendered fat. There was no discernible smoke flavor and little flavor of any kind. The jalapeno sausage was actually quite good, but it seems as if they must have lucked into a good supplier. They alone aren't worth returning for.

Rating *
Hickory Pit on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

200,000 Visitors

I want to thank all of the fans of the site who keep on loggin' on. You've helped us reach 200,000 page views! There's plenty more coming this month, so stay tuned.

- BBQ Snob

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Luling City Market

HOUSTON: Luling City Market
4726 Richmond Ave

Houston, TX 77027


Open M-Sat 11-9, Sun 12-7

Luling City Market has been described as an identity bandit. They stole an employee and a sauce recipe from the original City Market in Luling, but the meat isn't quite up to that level. Orders arrive on butcher paper accompanied by that signature clay colored sauce, and there's no denying that they've nailed that recipe. Unfortunately, the most pronounced flavor note from the meat was salt.

The crust on the brisket was dense and sticky. There wasn't so much a crust as it was a somewhat dried layer that concentrated the rub into an intensely salty burst in every bite. I enjoy salt, but this was just too much covering what would otherwise be some pretty good brisket. Very little smoke was evident in the slices, and most of the fat had been trimmed away from the still moist beef. Ribs were about the same. They had a very salty rub, and had been stored a while. The meat was still moist with a decent level of tenderness, but this meat was also missing that smokiness. Overall, the meat here was decent, but it's nowhere near the level of the original. Maybe with another name, expectations wouldn't be elevated.

Rating ***
Luling City Market Real Texas Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Virgie's Bar-B-Que

HOUSTON: Virgie’s Bar-B-Que
5535 Gessner Dr.

Houston, TX 77041


Open W-F 11-6:30, Sat 11-5:30

Update: This joint had a fire on 03/11/11, but they have reopened and are back in business.

2010: BBQ Snob: "Who is your hot link supplier?"
Virgie: "That's my secret. Are you folks food critics or something?"
BBQ Snob: "That's our secret."

This is how my experience at Virgie's began with the amiable proprietor and pit master, Adrian Handsborough. Pierson's down the road has a big fan in Robb Walsh, while Virgie's counts the Houston Chronicle's Alison Cook as a fan along with being named one of Texas's top 50 BBQ joints by Texas Monthly. These are some high accolades for being open a mere five years, but Chris Reid, Fulmer and I were about to find out if they were deserved.

Virgie's offers a meaty sampler plate, so we went without sides, and headed straight for the protein. Those mysterious hot links were dense and flavorful. A mild red pepper heat was complemented by cracked black pepper and plenty of post oak smoke. They were moist without being fatty and there was a great snap to the casing. St. Louis ribs were a bit on the small side and could have been a bit more meaty, but they remained moist and tender with a nice chew. Well seasoned, they had a bold smokiness and excellent overall flavor. Portions of the point and flat were held together tenuously by a thin line of scrumptious fat in each of the thick slices of brisket. A beautiful rosy smokering was enveloped by a deep black crust, and the flavor of that oak smoke made it deep into every bite. A large portion of fat remained on many of the slices, but was so well smoked that it was devoured along with the meat. At the end of the meal, this would be the cleanest box on the trip.

While all of the offerings were stellar, my favorite part was the brisket, and it's quality was further cemented after the BBQ Smackdown where I chose Virgie's as my favorite sample. My favorite bit from the joint's website may be a misprint. Adrian describes the history of the joint and his 'barbecure'. Joints like this definitely help me recharge after many medicore meals in a row, and I'll be lobbying Webster to add this term to describe how sometimes good BBQ is all you need to cure what ails you.

Rating *****
Virgie's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sausage Shoppe

Arriving at the airport on my way back home, I quickly punched the address to the Sausage Shoppe in Cleveland into my phone. I needed some bratwursts, and I wanted to know what other regional delicacies they may have to offer. The place is known for their impressive array of homemade wursts, but I found some oddities under the glass case that I was unfamiliar with. From what I could find online, cottage ham is a product known only in the Cleveland area, and it comes from the pork shoulder. Much like 'raw' bacon, it has been cured and smoked, but requires cooking (i.e hours in a crockpot) before ingesting...unless it is smoked a second time. Then it can be sliced and eaten straight from the fridge. It is an intensely flavored smoked meat with the flavor of ham although it's not from the ham area on the hog. The meat was dense and a bit chewy, but not to the degree of a jerky. It's excellent with some Amish made swiss cheese and beer.

Double smoked bacon (speck) and double smoked cottage ham

Amish swiss cheese, cottage ham and speck

The other item in their case was double smoked bacon, or German speck. This is not the Italian version of speck which is smoked prosciutto, but rather it's bacon that has been smoked and cured just like normal bacon, but then it's smoked again to fully cook it. Although it looks just like raw bacon, it can be sliced and eaten as is, or cubed and fried with eggs for an intense bacony treat. Eating it cold feels unnatural at first, but the first bite is full of silky fat that melts immediately on the tongue and smoky meat that tastes like bacon squared. I couldn't get enough.

Back in Dallas, I did some research to find the origins of this double smoked bacon, and I learned that it's popular all over eastern Europe. I went to the best German deli around to see if I could get my hands on some, and I found a Hungarian product named Kolozsvari that was ready to eat smoked bacon. It had the same great flavor that I found in the Sausage Shoppe's version, but it was notably chewy without the silky, meltingly tender texture that I fell in love with. This was more well suited for dicing and frying with some eggs. I continued searching.

Kolozsvari Hungarian Smoked Bacon

Finally, at Central Market I located the Karl Ehmer brand double smoked bacon. At home I found it to be a close approximation of what I found in Ohio. Sure, I found a reliable dealer for all of you Dallasites out there, but be careful with this stuff, it's addictive and not so healthy. Has anyone else out there tried a similar product? Do you have a favorite brand?

- BBQ Snob

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Momma raye's Old Fashioned BBQ

DALLAS: Momma raye's Old Fashioned BBQ

Location and Hours TBD

On a recent Friday evening I was traversing Deep Ellum on my way to Pepe’s for a much needed infusion of chipotle wine sauce. I was fighting back twinges of nostalgia as there was a small line of some sort in front of the reopened Trees and construction permits hanging in a few of the other spaces. As I crossed Crowdus, I noticed a Ford F-150 packed to the gills with a large wheeled smoker that had settled in the parking lot in front of Club Clearview. The severe shortage of street food in Dallas is well known, so I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

Ribs weren’t ready yet, so I settled for a sliced beef sandwich. My slices had been trimmed of any evidence of crust. They could have used a few more minutes in the smoker with their bonier brethren, but were generally moist and flavorful. Momma raye’s is currently open Tuesday through Saturday, 7pm to 2am at the corner of Elm and Crowdus. They plan to open a permanent home at Commerce and Walton in the next few weeks. I’ll withold a star rating for now, but I can recommend Momma raye’s to those who need a little extra fuel while out enjoying the resurgence of Deep Ellum. I hope both are on a strong upward arc.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reader's BBQ

Tim Wagner and Doug Zedler smoked something more exotic than your average brisket. One the menu was a goat shoulder, goat ribs and venison sausage all smoked over lump charcoal and spanish oak in an offset smoker.

Goat Shoulder

Goat Ribs

Venison Sausage

Dana in Culleoka decided to try her hand at smoking eggs, and they look...interesting.

Brad Shaw, owner of Big Racks BBQ in Grapvine sends these pics of his team's entry into the Cops 4 Kids BBQ Cookoff in Fort Worth last month. These entries earned them first in brisket and second in ribs.

And finally, Jack shares the mouthwatering pics of his pork butt that was smoked for 11 hours over hickory in a Brinkmann barrel smoker.

- BBQ Snob

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Pierson & Company Bar-B-Q

HOUSTON: Pierson & Company Bar-B-Q
5110 West T. C. Jester

Houston, TX 77091


Open Tues-Sat 11-7

Update: This joint is temporarily CLOSED. Pitmaster and owner Clarence Pierson had surgery on his knees a while back and is recovering for a hopeful comeback.

2010: After trying so many average DFW 'cue joints, I had little hope for finding truly great BBQ in another Texas metropolitan area. My guide for the day assured me that we'd be hitting the best that Houston had to offer, so today would be Houston's test. The second stop of the morning brought us to a joint that had been garnering some local clout along with accolades from the likes of Robb Walsh since its opening about two years ago. Let's just say expectations were high.

In addition to the standard brisket and ribs, we opted for sliced pork and a link of boudin. The boudin was dense but moist with great flavor from green onions and a great smoky flavor. The spare ribs were large and meaty, possibly from giant four pounds racks. The meat was perfectly moist with juiciness streaking through it due to the perfectly rendered fat. A very heavy spice rub kept any black crust from forming, but the meat was incredibly smoky throughout from a good dose of mesquite smoke. Sliced pork wasn't so much sliced as chunked. The rub was the same as that used on the ribs, but it wasn't quite as heavy. No residual fat was evident because of the long smoking time, and the tender, moist meat just fell apart into nice bite sized morsels.

In the opinion of most, including me, the true test of any joint's skill is their brisket. This brisket was slow smoked in an upright pit by Houston's David Klose. The meat had a deep smokiness into the core of each slice. A large line of fat was left on the edge of each slice, and this fat was so silky tender that their was little question that it would all be eaten along with the meat. This brisket was nicely seasoned and lusciously moist and tender, and truly some of the best I've eaten in the state. If this keeps up on this tour of Houston, then there's no question that it's got Dallas beat.

Rating *****
Pierson & Company Bar B Que on Urbanspoon

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Lyndon's Pit Bar-B-Q

HOUSTON: Lyndon's Pit Bar-B-Q
5320 Hollister Street

Houston, TX 77040


Open Daily 10-9

From the great personable service we received while dining, it was obvious that the owners of Lyndon's are really trying hard at what they do. We were asked sincerely if we enjoyed everything, and felt obliged to offer the generic answer that everything was fine. To be more honest, it was all pretty average barbeque.

As we ordered, the knife man laid a dry flat of brisket on the cutting board and began to slice into the fat free meat. After an earnest request for some fatty brisket, the knife man twirled around to grab a slab of the good stuff out of his secret vault. We were momentarily saved from bland meat. Waiting to pay at the register, I could already tell the pulled pork was bone dry. Back at the table the meat proved to be both dry and bland. A quick dip in their pork specific sauce remedied the issue. I was happy to see that a joint would offer a different sauce based on the meat it was to be paired with, and even happier that the pairing worked. I just wished that the meat could have shined on its own.

The brisket was a step up from the pork. The meat was smokey, flavorful and very moist. The fat had been well rendered, but the meat was slightly caramelized from a long storage time creating a sticky texture in the mouth. Ribs were also moist. The big meaty spare ribs were well cooked and far from dry. They needed more seasoning and more smoke, but they were definitely a step in the right direction. While I've seen a few other reviews, and people seem to either love or despise this place. If you stick with the ribs and request the fatty brisket, you can get a pretty decent meal of 'cue here.

Rating **
Lyndon's Pit Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

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Friday, July 2, 2010

Barbecue Inn

HOUSTON: Barbecue Inn
116 West Crosstimbers Street

Houston, TX 77018


Open Tues-Sat 10:30-9:30

We timed it just right to arrive in Houston just as the Barbecue Inn was opening. Despite its name, this joint is much more well known for their home cooking like chicken fried steak, fried shrimp, and fried chicken. But I was here for the BBQ.

This isn't the most beautiful part of town, but certainly doesn't feel dangerous in any way. As I left my car I was approached by a pan handler. I brushed him off and got a look of disdain reserved for folks like me who are exiting their Audis holding their fancy camera. I continued to the entrance and was quickly greeted by a hostess. This is a full service joint. While perusing the menu, the Houston Foodie (Chris Reid) arrived. He would be my intrepid guide for the day. His charge? To show me the best BBQ that Houston had to offer without wincing a bit from the overindulgence that was about to commence.

Chris is a pro in gluttony, so he understood that we needed to share plates even though we were both starving. Ribs are available as an appetizer, and a plate of brisket was very reasonable.

Brisket arrived covered in a thin tomatoey sauce with little depth of flavor. The fat was fully trimmed, and the slices were a bit dry, but the flavor of the unadulterated portions of beef was decent. Outside of a thick black crust, there was little smokiness.

A plate of St. Louis style ribs were much better. Seasoning heavy in black pepper helped create a nice crust on the meat. These bones were moist and tender, and the fat within the rib was nicely rendered. While the ribs also had little smoke, their flavor was very good. A plate of fried chicken ordered by my wife showed why they were so well known for their home cooking. The meat was moist, and the breading perfectly crisp. I'd have a hard time not ordering on my next trip.

Rating ***
Barbecue Inn on Urbanspoon

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.