Smoked Duck at Goode Co. Bar-B-Q

Categories: Q

Smoked Duck at Goode Co Barbecue.JPG
Some restaurants become institutions because of their fantastic food. Others, I've decided, become institutions merely because they are institutions. Take, for example, Goode Co. Bar-B-Q. This place is pretty much the epitome of Houston dining institutions. Since the mid '70s, the iconic spot has been serving up brisket, sausage and ribs, all washed down with a few cold ones, on that wonderful picnic-table-filled patio. The trouble is, it's really not that good.

Don't get me wrong, I love Goode Co. I just don't love it for the meat. Brisket comes out dry and not quite tender enough, the leanness of the meat doing its best to rob each slice of its glorious potential. Ribs suffer from a similar lack of tenderness. Nothing is as smoky as it should be. It's better than your average Southern Pride chain, but it's just not good enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with the greats.

There are a few standouts on the menu, though. The Czech sausage has a nice snap to it, and has a good meat-to-fat ratio and nice spicing. It could be juicier, and I prefer a coarser grind, but those are somewhat minor quibbles for what is a pretty good smoked sausage. The real winner here, aside from the admittedly awesome feel of the place itself, is the duck.

On a recent visit, we snagged that one picnic table under the tree, swathed in strings of lights. It was a beautiful evening, and I had a cold beer in my hand and duck on my plate. The rest of the meats - ribs, brisket, and Czech sausage - were only so-so, but that duck was fantastic.

Sublimely moist and tender, the duck suffers from none of the fat-shyness that so plagues the brisket. Underneath a spice-coated and burnished skin, the fat takes on a deeply smoky, slightly sweet, utterly addictive character. The connective tissue in and under the skin converts to decadent and sticky gelatin over the course of the duck's long rest in the smoker, and the meat is full flavored and delicious, tasting of spice, smoke, and flesh. It's certainly my favorite thing there, and one of my favorite barbecue experiences anywhere.

I keep going to Goode Co. for Goode Co., itself. It may not be a bastion of Texas barbecue excellence, but it is a bastion of Texas cultural excellence. That's enough to keep me coming back. The duck is just the icing on the cake.

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CL91
CL91

I completely agree that the meat is where Goode Co. falls short. Everything else about it is great; potato salad, that apple-sausage-whatever-else side dish, the sauce, the jalapeno bread, the duck (!), the pecan pie (!!) the chocolate cinnamon milkshakes (!!!).

I think "I keep going to Goode Co. for Goode Co., itself." sums it up very nicely. They've created an institution (like so many others) where the experience is enough to warrant going on a regular basis, so most of the food is average, who cares? The atmosphere is awesome, and it's always a fun time.

Jamescristinian
Jamescristinian

Anytime you start mentioning sides at a BBQ place, it's time to look elsewhere. I go for the meat, and atmosphere be damned. Goode Company's meat is terrible, but it still attracts hordes of Houston lemmings, as many other places do.

Jamescristinian
Jamescristinian

I had the duck once, exactly once, and it fared the same as all their meats, with the exception of the sausage. It was dry and overpowered by the mesquite smoke, to the point where most of their meats are hard to tell apart flavor wise.

Fatty FatBastard
Fatty FatBastard

I haven't had the duck or the turkey, but I'm a big fan of their chicken. It's typically what I get when I'm there. Looks like the one thing Goode Co. is good at is poultry.

gaston
gaston

Odd that Houston holds the World Championship of Barbecue for 3 days, and struggles the other 362.

Kyle
Kyle

Health code regulations on barbecue pits. Gatlin's turns out good barbecue, though.

PM
PM

Also a plus: the smoked turkey.

Aaron
Aaron

The smoked turkey is the nutz

Mister Kay
Mister Kay

I've had brisket at Goode Company many, many times. I specifically ask for the lean brisket, which is as good as any Que place makes.

You'll notice that the cutting station stacks two slabs of brisket for slicing, one is the lean side and the other is the fat side.....I ask for the lean side only....

A1257534
A1257534

I usually ask for only the fat side. I think the author should try the same...

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

In my experience, the fat cap left on the fatty side never quite renders properly, and stays unpleasantly toothsome.

P2j2maughan
P2j2maughan

Was not impressed by Goode & Co. I am from San Antonio and can get better bbq at Bill Miller's and pay half the price!

Matthew
Matthew

oddly enough the one thing that i really like about goode co. is the one thing that i really don't care about that much at other barbecue joints; the sauce. i really like that marinara/brisket mess.

Eric S
Eric S

Also, the pecan pie is awesome, and it's open for dinner. Ever tried going to Pierson's for dinner?

TQro
TQro

On the topic of Pierson's... it is nothing to write home about. Certainly not worth the drive there for us.

Ray
Ray

Pierson's & Gaitlin's are the 2 best bbq places in Htown I've experienced. Both have very friendly service. However, Gaitlin's has been slow on service the 2 times I've been there. The brisket & ribs were as excellent as the service was slow & friendly!

Eric S
Eric S

Really? I've been to most of the places in central Texas that people talk about as having awesome barbecue, and, while I don't think Pierson's is about to enter Texas Monthly's top 5, I think it holds its own. The brisket always has a nice smoke ring, and it's generally pretty moist with nicely rendered fat. Lean brisket is a waste of time in my opinion, so if that's your criteria we just aren't going to see eye to eye. Also, they're just so damn friendly there it's hard not to enjoy it.

TQro
TQro

Agree on the friendliest service ever at a bbq spot. The smoke was definitely there, no question abt that. No lean brisket for me, and it certainly was not moist and tender, not falling apart at the fat seams. Did not live up to the hype for me. The ribs were well seasoned, smoke was present, and moist, probably the best part of the dinner, but the ribs alone aren't going to be worth my drive. The sausage was ground a bit too fine for me.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

You know, I've always only been mildly impressed with the pecan pie. I suppose that's because my mom makes pecan pie better than any other I've ever had, and I can't help but measure all others against it. You're right, though, about the broad hours. I've never shown up to find them unexpectedly closed, or out of meat. That is, I suppose, both a good thing and a bad thing.

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