5 Houston-Area Barbecue Joints Top Texas Monthly List of 50 Best BBQ Spots

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Photo by Joshua Justice
Trent Brooks, pitmaster and owner of Brooks Place BBQ, earned a well-deserved spot on the list.
The last time Texas Monthly released its list of the 50 best barbecue joints in Texas was 2008. During that five-year interim, a lot has changed. Namely, the Austin-based magazine now boasts its very own barbecue editor -- the only publication anywhere to have a single person devoted to the cuisine.

That barbecue editor is Daniel Vaughn, the much-discussed and highly respected former barbecue blogger who's noted for two fairly amazing accomplishments as of late: First is his book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat, which is the debut title under Anthony Bourdain's line of books for publishing company Ecco.

The second accomplishment is driving more than 10,000 miles for that book as well as for Texas Monthly's latest barbecue guide. Indeed, between Vaughn and longtime food editor Pat Sharpe, the team covered an accumulated 33,168 miles and visited 658 places across the state before deciding on the final 50.

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A full plate at CorkScrew BBQ in Spring.
Those top 50 joints are ranked in no particular order, but that hasn't stopped the feeding frenzy over which towns and cities got the most mentions -- nor has it prevented a rash of hurt feelings.

"It's a subjective list composed by a few people," responded infamous pitmaster John Mueller, grandson of Texas legend Louis Mueller, whose newest barbecue joint opened in Austin this past February. "I was going to say jackasses, but I'll be nice."

Mueller did concede, however, that his fellow Austin pitmasters on the Texas Monthly list were worthy competition: "I've eaten at 4 out of the 5 in Austin and they deserve to be there."

Along with Austin, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and the greater Houston area also garnered five spots on the list.

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Ribs are one of the best bets at Gatlin's BBQ.
In Houston proper, Rice University graduate-run Gatlin's BBQ and old-timer Virgie's Bar-B-Que made the cut. Newcomers CorkScrew BBQ (in Spring) and Brooks Place BBQ (in Cypress) both got well-deserved nods and the often-overlooked Leon's World's Finest BBQ was spotlighted in Galveston.

Those who've long bought into the myth that Houston doesn't "do" good barbecue may be shocked to see so many local joints on the list -- but they shouldn't be.

"This is, perhaps, a surprise for some people who aren't familiar [with] Houston barbecue," wrote local barbecue expert J.C. Reid, a co-organizer of the recent successful Houston Barbecue Festival. "But for those of us who know and celebrate Houston barbecue, it's no surprise at all."



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Location Info

Gatlin's BBQ

1221 W. 19th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Virgie's Bar-B-Que

5535 Gessner Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

CorkScrew BBQ

24930 Budde Road, Spring, TX

Category: Restaurant


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37 comments
Currahees3506
Currahees3506

Houston has some excellent BBQ.  BTW...once you leave Texas there is no real BBQ only posers.  There it is.  

Louis Puente
Louis Puente

Ribs at both Guy's Meat Mkt and Byron's. Brisket at Virgies. Sausage, nowhere in SE Texas. Pierson's is/was good, but not sure if he's back open. Need to get up to Corkscrew. Nothing compares to the greatness of Franklin and John Mueller's in Austin. If you have to sauce it, it's not that good. Oh, I'd prefer it on butcher paper than a plate.

H Newcomb
H Newcomb

In my neighborhood (Meyerland/Westbury area), the best I've found is Post Oak Ranch on S. Post Oak between Gasmer and S. Main (Hwy 90)

Rolando Rosilez
Rolando Rosilez

Beef and Bun and this BBQ joint on Lockwood between I-10 and Clinton.

thomas125
thomas125

Blake's and only Blake's

Liberty Kitchen has great brisket -it's not "BBQ" but it's really good.

Florida63
Florida63

Sorry to ruin this thread with a positive comment but hooray for Gatlin's and the fact that HOUSTON AREA bbq places are being recognized.

jaquesbluett
jaquesbluett

@kshilcutt Galveston isn't even in Harris County, let alone Houston. I call arbitrary endpoints on this article!

Emily Schwenke Ybarra
Emily Schwenke Ybarra

Trent Brooks is a really nice guy and he's always cooking up something new. You have to try his smoked catfish on Fridays.

claireemilywilliams
claireemilywilliams

If you lump Spring, Cypress and Galveston in as Houston mentions, wouldn't you necessarily have to compare all mentions within 50 miles of Austin? The Hill Country has us beat in this category, even the most reluctant of us has to concede that much.

stev
stev

Thank you for not poisoning the list with goodco.\

ducttaperoses
ducttaperoses

I have a friend who lives near Virgie's and he swears they microwave everything.  Either they've improved a lot or whoever wrote this needs to rethink.

Houstess
Houstess

I'll have to try Leon's again.  The brisket I once had there was dry and flavorless.  It seems that these folks are just championing random places.  The fact that Smitty's is not on the list and Salt Lick is, makes me doubt their sanity, let alone their taste in BBQ.

miked_r
miked_r

Totally agree. Best kept secret.

Florida63
Florida63

@jaquesbluett @kshilcutt 

If you go to the actual list from TX Monthly, Galveston, Cypress, and Spring are listed as separate entities, not under Houston. I think Katherine was assuming some of us might actually travel to such hinterlands for great bbq.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@claireemilywilliams Spring and Cypress are part of Houston. They're not just suburbs; they're fully within the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction. Galveston is definitely a stretch, but we here at the Press do cover Galveston restaurants, events and other food news and consider the island part of the greater Houston metro area.

OTOH, I'm not sure that Austinites consider places like Lexington, Luling, Lockhart, etc. part of their city -- or even their suburbs.

underexposure
underexposure

@ducttaperoses I can assure you Adrian (the proprietor) never microwaves his bbq. He has maintained a very high quality through the years which was summarily recognized by TX Monthly.  Virgie's is one of  a select group that repeated inclusion on the top 50 list from the last one in 2008.  Even some of the best places have an off day and brisket is a fickle cut to execute at a high level consistently, but in my many visits there it has always been good to very good. The ribs have never been less than stellar. Don't take my word for it, try it yourself and decide.

ducttaperoses
ducttaperoses

@Houstess I hated Black's!  I paid for as much salt and grease as I did meat; I couldn't even eat what I'd ordered because it was so overseasoned, and I'll never go back.  Kreuz or Smitty's if I'm in Lockhart.

jaquesbluett
jaquesbluett

@Florida63 just to be clear, we're defining the Houston area as "a place we might travel to for bbq." 

Currahees3506
Currahees3506

@kshilcutt @claireemilywilliams I beg to differ about Spring being in the City of Houston's ETJ.  We are an unincorporated area of Harris County and are served by Harris County constables and volunteer fire departments.  The City of Houston provides no services whatsoever to Spring, Texas.  As a resident of WCID #110, we have a pact with the City of Houston that states we cannot be annexed for the next fifty (50) years.  

Anon
Anon

@kshilcutt @claireemilywilliams Corkscrew is in The Woodlands which is not part of Houston ETJ anymore. It is planning to incorporate in the next year or two.

kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editor

@Anon  @claireemilywilliams I admit to being confused here. CorkScrew's own website has their address listed as being on Budde Road in Spring, which seems to lie just outside the boundaries of The Woodlands. But who knows! Houston is so amorphous...

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