The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Barbecue

Categories: Q, Top 10

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Honorable mention: Thelma's
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2012 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.

Just yesterday, Anthony Bourdain told us all about how he'd become a recent convert to Texas barbecue while eating with barbecue blogger Daniel Vaughn in Central Texas. "I'd previously taken sort of a dim view of Texas barbecue," the chef said, "but Franklin and J. Mueller showed me how good it really was. I had a religious experience there."

Now, Franklin Barbecue and J. Mueller BBQ are both a bit of a drive from Houston. And while both are arguably some of the absolute, all-time best barbecue you can get in Texas, what we have in our own backyard isn't too shabby.

Note: Many entries are excerpted from previous Best of Houston® entries, as many previous award winners have maintained the same standards of quality that garnered them awards in the first place. Go 'cue.

10. Blake's BBQ and Burgers

True, most people (including Tony Vallone himself) go to Blake's for the burgers (and the catfish, and the smoked turkeys at Thanksgiving, and the veggie burgers). But the barbecue -- especially the tender ribs -- shouldn't be dismissed entirely, unless you (like Bourdain) aren't a fan of sauced meat. The sauce at Blake's is sweet and there's a lot of it, but it's a nostalgic kind of sweet that may remind you of the barbecue sauce your mom made for your dad's brisket, with plenty of ketchup and brown sugar. Save room for dessert, because you'll want a slice of one of Blake's homemade cakes or a milkshake made with none other than Hank's ice cream.

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Photo by Paul Sedillo
9 Burns Bar BQ

On Saturday afternoon, Burns Bar BQ is party central in Acres Homes. The crowds line up when the place opens, and they never let up until the ribs are gone. Burns Bar BQ serves their ribs well done under a sweet and subtle glaze of sauce and smoke. Burns' brisket falls apart on the way to your mouth; it's as soft and wet as pot roast. If you judge it by the standards of white barbecue, then you won't get it. Beef that isn't falling apart simply isn't done enough according to the black East Texas aesthetic. Carolina barbecue is whole-hog, slow-smoked to stringy mush; the black East Texas style does the same thing with beef, which was always cheaper and more plentiful in Texas. Put some of Burns's falling-apart brisket on a bun with barbecue sauce, pickles and onions, and think of it as Texas's answer to a Carolina pulled-pork sandwich. Suddenly, you'll understand. Its new location on 7117 N. Shepherd isn't as good as the original (see: Thelma's, for the same story), but it's still a Houston institution.

8. Triple J's Smokehouse

Like both Thelma's and Burns before it, Triple J's is now on its second location at 6715 Homestead Road, just north of Kashmere Gardens and right outside the Loop. Triple J's isn't just popular for its East Texas-style barbecue, though, as good as it is. This joint also serves some pretty fine links of spicy Cajun boudin and smoked turkey. Around Thanksgiving time, orders for that juicy turkey -- which Triple J's will also deep-fry for you -- keep the joint busy around the clock.


Location Info

Venue

Map

Burns Bar-B-Q

7117 N. Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Triple J's Smokehouse

6715 Homestead Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Brisket House

5775 Woodway Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Rudy's Country Store & BBQ

20806 Interstate 45, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Lenox Barbeque & Catering

5420 Harrisburg Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

CorkScrew BBQ

24930 Budde Road, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue

1703 Shepherd Dr., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Virgie's Bar-B-Que

5535 Gessner Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Gatlin's BBQ

1221 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
Kelli
Kelli

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE try D-Luxe BBQ and Catering off Barker Cypress and 290. It's a red food truck permanently parked in the far corner of HEBs parking lot. My friend Danny runs it and honestly, I think it is pretty dam close to being better if not better than Gatlin's and would easily make top 5 of this list. This list is not complete without them.

underexposure
underexposure

Time for you to make a visit to Ray's BBQ (4529 Old Spanish Trail). A good list none the less.  I've become a big fan of Corkscrew BBQ; even their sides are top notch.

MJ713
MJ713

Glad to see Corkscrew on the list!  

seasincarnadine
seasincarnadine

Not even close...Old Fashion Barbecue...Are they licensed to sell food?  I don't know.  Are they open 24-7?  No, you are likely to die if you're in the neighborhood at the wrong times.  However, I've been to all but two of the places in this list, and Old Fashion just tops them all because its so smokey you feel as if you're dying in a forest fire when you re-heat leftovers.  

Houston Press
Houston Press

We've been meaning to check out Andy's Wild Hawg. Thanks for th reminder, Michael Terry!

Michael Terry
Michael Terry

But Andy's is doing some good food over on dedman street. And we went to school with some of those Cook kids.

Michael Terry
Michael Terry

Same here. We can't go out to eat anymore. Wife only wants me doing the steaks.

Joseph Mayfield
Joseph Mayfield

Please don't bring up the Goode company, they have lost their way. Too comercialized and full of themselves.

Joseph Mayfield
Joseph Mayfield

Never said I was a pit master, just said my family prefers mine.

stonerbuddybongloader
stonerbuddybongloader

Hickory Hollow shoulda at least got an honorable mention. So good; and that spicy tangy sauce...MmmMMmmm!!

Alex Long
Alex Long

it's amazing how hot a topic bbq is. Everyone thinks their regions bbq is 'the best hands down'....and everyone is a pitmaster. it's all personal preference. Carolina bbq is completely different than Memphis than it is from KC style than it is from Texas style.

Michael Terry
Michael Terry

Good point Joseph but sometimes when we are out and about the craving will hit.

Joseph Mayfield
Joseph Mayfield

We have a rule at our house, we don't eat at bbq places , homemade is much better.

Jalapeno
Jalapeno

Why does Rudy's misspell "sauce" as "sause?"  It's not funny.

Joshua Justice
Joshua Justice

Arguing about the best BBQ in Houston is like arguing about the best mueseum of fine art in West Virginia.

Scott Bland
Scott Bland

Texas BBQ is tolerable at best... Midwood Smoke House in Charlotte is hands down the best anywhere!

Amy Earls
Amy Earls

Hickory Hollow hands down!!!!!

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard topcommenter

I think this list was well done, also...  Where would William's have landed on this list, were they still around.  I'm guessing 1-2.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Great list, couldn't agree more.  Absolutely love brisket house not only is it just down the street from our office the food is stellar and the lady who runs it is a real doll.  And you're quite right Mueller's make excellent bbq, including this one... :)

HTownChowDown
HTownChowDown

Very good list.  Since no one would ever argue with a BBQ list, I guess we're done here.

ledet.rebecca
ledet.rebecca

D-luxe BBQ is the best in Houston call them 281-746-1374 they should let Houston press food bloggers eat for free, TRY THEM!!!!!!!!!

john1914
john1914

 @kshilcutt  @HTownChowDown <snark>What kind of bullshit BBQ list doesn't have Pappas or Goode Company?</snark>

 

Actually, everyone on your list is legit. Well done.

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