Help Us Find the Worst Barbecue in Houston

Categories: Q

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Cats make terrible barbecue; don't be fooled by their tiny toques and professional demeanor.
It's generally agreed upon that unless you have a fancy-pants tent ticket for the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (a.k.a. The Cookoff), the three-day-long 'cue contest isn't worth the price of admission. A poor, benighted visitor to Houston may think that The Cookoff -- and official kick-off to what is essentially the planet's biggest rodeo -- would be an excellent opportunity to taste some of the world's finest barbecue. But they'd be wrong.

What you get with a general admission ticket to The Cookoff is cafeteria-grade barbecue, the kind of stuff that any Texan should be ashamed to serve to visitors -- let alone fellow Texans. I say this with a lot of love for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo: It provided me with my first job out of college and nearly a lifetime's worth of pleasant memories both before and after that.

But if it were up to me, I'd nominate the non-tent, non-cookoff-team barbecue at the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest as the worst in Houston. Luckily for the Rodeo, it doesn't serve that barbecue all year round -- only through Cookoff.

However, there are plenty of other offenders throughout Houston serving some truly despicable barbecue. And we want your help finding them.

bbqbacon.jpg
What in the...? Are they just barbecuing bacon strips?
Last month, Gawker issued a call for its readers to help them find the worst hamburger in New York City. "There are a lot of bad hamburgers in New York City," wrote Gawker's Max Read, "and we mean to try them all."

Well, to quote local barbecue expert J.C. Reid: "Houston barbecue sucks."

It's a sentiment with which I agree, with only a few notable exceptions. And we here at EOW intend to try the really bad stuff so we can warn people away from the bad and steer them instead toward only the truly good barbecue, the stuff we can be proud to call Texas 'cue.

As with Gawker's call, we have a few of our own ground rules:

  • List the full name and address of the barbecue baddies in question
  • Tell us exactly what makes the barbecue there so bad (this goes to a question we'll hopefully address later: What exactly is Texas barbecue as defined from a Houston perspective?)
  • We're not burning anyone in effigy here; there's no need to be slanderous or over-the-top in your description of the 'cue, so keep it simple and to-the-point
  • Make sure this is a barbecue restaurant we can actually try; no church potlucks or tailgating teams

At the end of the week, we'll round up the suggestions into a poll. Next Monday, we'll have our readers vote on the five worst barbecue restaurants for our panel of experts to try. And by the end of this month, we hope to have an answer to the question: Where is the worst barbecue in Houston?



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63 comments
Best BBQ in LA
Best BBQ in LA

Can't imagine it is just a picture or a original photograph. No one will visit it. 

EatinGoodInTexas
EatinGoodInTexas

OK, all of you are too light on the new guys in town.... Spring Creek Barbecue.  Unbelievable that they will put the word Barbecue in their name.  Should change it to Spring Creek roast and other meats.  Not BBQ, not good, not memorable.  They have to put their locations in high traffic areas because no one is coming back.  Well maybe the fresh roll lovers, but at least change the name to Spring Creek Better than Avg Rolls. Can't even save the Q with their sauce and everyone knows you should judge the Q on it's own, not covered up with anything.

Keiocorp
Keiocorp

Goode and company tastes like it was steamed and baked in an oven.

Lillieanngraham
Lillieanngraham

There is a barbeque place in the Spring Branch area at Longpoint just past Pech in a strip center with a bunch of random businesses, and the name on the outside just says BBQ. Ate their bbq when I was growing up not knowing how tasteless and awful it was, then I married a guy from Schulenburg, TX who introduced me to awesome bbq. Knowing better bbq from around Texas, I have to nominate these folks. Its not good. 

sugarlandposter
sugarlandposter

I'll add some from Fort Bend - VAsos in Sugar Land for the driest brisket you will ever taste.   somehow the place stays in business.  Brookstreet barbecue in Missouri City.   brisket and sausage are just awful and portions are tiny

Woodlands Traveler
Woodlands Traveler

Pit Master should be added to this list as well. They may cook it up fresh but it's not very good at all.  They seem to rely on the variety of sauces they provide on the dining tables to give their bbq some flavor.

brucesw
brucesw

Oh boy, this is gonna be fun.  Can we do Tex-Mex next? and CFS after that?

I have to agree Stockyard is totally lame and soulless.  Can't believe the Houston BBQ Project called it promising.  In the same category, Ribs on Wheels.  Both served me brisket that was so tender it had to have been braised and totally devoid of smoke flavor, smoke ring, or bark.  Unacceptable.  Even worse is stuff that is tough and lacking those things. 

Central Texas Style in Pearland deserves demerits just for the misleading name.  The closest they've ever been to Central Texas is Manvel or maybe Arcola, I'd guess.  The bbq is below average but I wouldn't say it's the worst in the area.

I would also nominate Gabby's on 610 @ Telephone and Roy's Mobile BBQ, but while the worst I've ever had in Houston was at a couple of places now closed, the worst still in existence is Thomas on the North Loop ca. Shepherd.  Cold baked potato, ice cold butter - that's bad enough, but the meat also had a chill on it, no smokiness, none of the fats had begun to liquefy  and it was unchewable.  A shame since at one time, Thomas served some pretty good stuff.  BTW, at one time the three locations were not all under one ownership, due to a divorce I was told, I don't know about now.

Woodlands Mama
Woodlands Mama

Country Time BBQ25330 Richards Road, Spring, TX 77386The bbq we had was old & dried out. It smelled of urine. It's never busy, and my Mom always said to pay attention to the amount of customers.

Ginger
Ginger

Charlies in bellaire had brisket that tastes like it has Bern boiled.

Cue Licious
Cue Licious

Beef and Bun @8155 Long Point. Little smoke taste. Like cooked in oven with Liquid Smoke.

Jay Francis
Jay Francis

Without mentioning names, I will share an anecdote of total cluelessness. I tried out a new BBQ place. They use mesquite and the BBQ tastes like roast beef. No smokiness at all. I asked them if the had considered using some pecan wood. I was told "We thought about that but, you see, some people are allergic to nuts, and we didn't think pecan wood would be safe to use."

Peter
Peter

Demeris and Pappas are the worst hands down. If I could have a say on most overrated, Pizzitola's, every blog says it's good, but the ribs I got when I went there were unforgivably dry and the sauce was little more than Campbell's Tomato Soup, but with extra water

Eric S
Eric S

I have a deep love for schadenfreude, but this idea makes me a little sad. Having eaten at most of the barbecue places in central Texas that people talk about as the best in the state, very little in Houston measures up. That said, I think I would rather focus on the places that do a good job than mock the places that suck. In fact, I'm going to visit Gatlin's this week and support a place I like rather than mock a place I don't.

Jim Ayres
Jim Ayres

For me the worst is Brisket BBQ at 5208 Bissonnet in Bellaire. No smoke, no char, no fat, no nothing. Just bland meat. (And in such small portions!) The staff didn't seem to care at all, and the place was empty.

Yumyum
Yumyum

I've gone to many events that were catered by Demeris and passed on the food.  You could resole you shoes with that dry brisket.

Kelly
Kelly

Carl's BBQ in cypress on 290 is prrtty terrible. Spare ribs are boiled. #crime

No
No

Hickory Hollow on Heights Blvd.... (and everywhere else near the Heights that isn't Gaitlins). Sorry brisket and horrible sausage. Very friendly service and good cfs though!

Jason
Jason

The absolute worst piece of bbq brisket served to me in Houston in the 33 years I've been alive was at Rudy's on 290. It was inedible.

Kevin C
Kevin C

Tony's Barbecue & Steakhouse. 1225 Travis (Downtown). The name should have told me that they don't do real barbecue, but I was still somewhat hopeful. The driest brisket I have ever been served in my life. As in, it looked white and flaky where it was sliced, like when you scratch your own dry skin. Not appetizing, and not tasty. 

tx_fan_dan
tx_fan_dan

Texas BarBQ on Texas Ave. east of downtown, Bar b que as a steam table option . . .

m9777
m9777

In general, the Barbque Inn on Crosstimbers serves great food but their dry, tough brisket is among the worst I've eaten.

Rev.Raft Boy
Rev.Raft Boy

Gabby's on Spencer Hwy., in Pasadena.See above comment for the Shephard location, verbatim.

SHUT UP & EAT!!!!
SHUT UP & EAT!!!!

Demeris is so bad, I'm willing to assume that really just it's a front for money laundering.

Stephanie
Stephanie

Pizzitola's BBQ on Shepherd is the worst I've ever had... it COULD have been just a fluke and a bad day for the ribs but the texture and flavor seemed to be closer to 'unseasoned jerky'... We actually ended up trashing everything and went to Sonic.

Matthew
Matthew

demeris is up there with the worst. it reminds me of the crap-tastic "barbecue" they served at astroworld.

Dejardin23
Dejardin23

Stockyard. On Westheimer. Utterly soulless. Giant, way-too-bright LED sign assaults you, and once you've tasted it, you know you've been robbed.

Tim
Tim

Gabby's at 3101 North Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX Bad flavor, bad texture - dry and overcooked.  Their burger was pretty terrible too for that's worth.  I'll give them this much though: their service is friendly.

Thomas on the North Loop is a worthy dis-honorable mentions as well.  Finally, not to discredit myself too much, but I have on occasion had decent BBQ at Pappas, albeit rarely.

MadMac
MadMac

Slamming Pappas/Thomas/Dickey's is too easy, (still valid, just too easy). You go to these joints because it's cheap/convenient/appeases whoever's in the car with you. It's the independent joints I have little/no mercy for.

The only way to compete with the bigs is also the easied way to beat them like bad children: quality. I can get roast beef at any number of chains. When I go for BBQ out, I look for the joints/wagons/churches that smoke the brisket by setting wood on fire and then feeding that fire for several hours. No gas, no electricity, no drive through.. Mount Zion Baptist Church in Huntsville comes to mind.

But this is about the worst. For me, it's all Thelma's. The meat is dry/smoke-free. The bad sauce, tastes like poured out of a cheap bottle. And worst of all, LOUSY service.

I'd actually buy from the cat in the picture or the stoned kids goofing on the bacon. Just saying.

Kevin C
Kevin C

Byron's Gourmet Bar-B-Que. 2101 W. Little York. The location and look of the place seems promising, but it is hands down the worst barbecue I've ever had. I had the brisket, sausage, and chicken. The chicken was pink, but I think that's because it was undercooked, not smoked. It was completely mushy and had no discernible flavor. The brisket had no smoke flavor and was somehow mushy, but also too stringy to actually chew through.The sausage was gritty with bad flavor and the casings were too tough to chew through and too tough to cut with the provided plastic knife. The sauce was fine, but obviously could not overcome the problems with the meat.

Maybe I just went on a bad day, but it was astoundingly bad food so I have not tried to give them a second chance. 

---------------------

I agree with the comments about Dickey's, at least the one in the Sawyer Heights shopping center near Target. It started out as decent enough (chain) barbecue, but went down hill dramatically. The last two times I went there was zero smoke flavor (or color) in the brisket. It was basically mushy roast beef. I let them know about the problem after the first time it happened and they obviously did nothing to fix it, presumably because they don't care enough to fix it.

Amrtxcpa
Amrtxcpa

I agree. Spring Creek Barbeque is crap. You get very little meat with cafeteria stle side dishes. The macaroni and cheese tasted like the stuff made from a box. The cole slaw and potato salad tastes like the stuff that comes in giant tubs at HEB, Kroger and Walmart.

m9777
m9777

I think the place to which you refer is at Campbell and Longpoint.  It recently burned and is now closed...peace be with you.

Woodlands Traveler
Woodlands Traveler

We drive past Country time fairly often and RARELY do we see a car in the drive thru lane. They have very limited parking and only a couple of tables.

They are also rather proud of their food.... a little too proud if you ask me.

Txjboy
Txjboy

You are correct!  The place has been there for years and I don't know why.

Wuwu
Wuwu

Luling City on Richmond is so awful bad its shameful that people actually support it.  Agree on Pappas too, its just not good at all. Demeris is up and down and I happen to like Stockyards and have seen improvements each time I have been. Rudy's to me it top dog, have not been to Gatlin's yet to review.

Txjboy
Txjboy

The BBQ Inn is best known for their fried chicken, fried shrimp, and CFS.  Never had the BBQ there.

mollusk
mollusk

Barbeque Inn is where one goes for fried chicken, not barbecue.

John Seaborn Gray
John Seaborn Gray

 I was disappointed by Pizzitola's, too. I'd heard such good things, and in the end, it was just mediocre.

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

I went to Pizzatolas last Friday for lunch and the ribs were very good. 

CameronByars
CameronByars

 I love Pizzatola's!

I think this needs to be considered in this discussion as well - some prefer fatty, moist meat. I, however, prefer dry baby backs that are not fatty. I think there are 2 kinds of BBQ lovers.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I'd eat a wheelbarrow of that q just to have Astroworld back.

CelineW2
CelineW2

Stockyard Barbecue gets my vote too! Slimy ribs and chicken. Clueless yet surly staff and kitchy interior make it a hands down favorite to win worst.

Geezy
Geezy

Without a doubt Gabby's on North Shepard is terrible. A damn good call here. 

mollusk
mollusk

Second, all the way through.  I also don't particularly like the weird petroleum aftertaste I've gotten at Thelma's (or the later, ummm, opportunity for contemplative reading)

H_e_x
H_e_x

Under cooked chicken? I'm hoping you didn't get sick from it, that is serious.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I think Luling City's biggest shame is the blatant rip-off of the reputation of one of the best BBQ joints on the planet, City Market in Luling, which is colloquially called Luling City Market.  There's no connection between the two, other than the appropriated name.

Their steam-table-quality BBQ isn't anything to write home about either.

m9777
m9777

Good call on Luling City.  Definitely a BBQ joint to avoid.  Fame by Name, BBQ is lame!

Wyatt
Wyatt

 An exception to the "order the dish in the restaurant's name" rule, such a rare thing

MadMac
MadMac

Good to know, I've passed this place for a couple of decades now, wondering why I/no one I know, has ever tried it. Thanks.

Guest
Guest

Disagree. Rarely have I had a bad beef experience at LCM. The "real" one in Luling is certainly superior, but the place on Richmond isn't bad.

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