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The Best BBQ Joints in Houston Right Now

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Houston may have been flying under the radar for a while, but gone are the days when we went unnoticed in the Texas BBQ scene. And rightfully so, as we’ve been quietly stepping up our barbecue game and it’s our time to shine (once we clean ourselves off with some moist towelettes). From pits rocking gargantuan beef ribs that feel downright Jurassic to the choicest, moistest, most mouthwatering brisket around, these Houston-area smokehouses prove we mean business.

Killen’s Barbecue

Pearland

If there’s one reason, and one reason only, to take the ride to Pearland, it’s to eat at chef Ronnie Killen’s namesake smokehouse. Killen, who has both training at Le Cordon Bleu and experience at a booming steakhouse under his belt, takes care to make sure that each pound of dino-sized, beef ribs; tender, chocolatey-barked brisket; and stupidly good bone-in pork belly exceeds Texas standards. And it does. Now open for lunch and more formal dinner service, go for the smoked meat, but don’t miss happy surprises like dry-aged brisket, the insanely good fried chicken (Sundays), and brisket tacos

Gatlin’s BBQ

Garden Oaks/Oak Forest

Come here for the ribs. Stay here for the ribs.
With a fresh facility on Ella that happens to be about six times the size of its shuttered 19th St location, this family-run fan favorite is literally bigger and better than ever. You can still get owner and pit boss Greg Gatlin’s trio of smoked ribs (there’s a short and meaty baby back varietal, a St. Louis-style spare rib, and a megaton beef number). But now, you won’t have to wait outside in the parking lot. Engage your inner caveman and gnaw the ribs straight down to the bone — or get a fully loaded “kitchen sink” sandwich and finish the meal with a bowl of giblet-laden dirty rice so filthy you’ll need a cold shower afterward.Jackson Street BBQ

Downtown

Best way to beef up before an Astros game
At long last, Downtown has a hot barbecue spot — and it’s a smoking gun. While ‘cue king Greg Gatlin was readying his Oak Forest haunt, he wisely spent his time on this ballpark-side grand slam with chef Bryan Caswell (of standbys Reef & Little Bigs). Head here for a trinity of masterfully smoked brisket, ribs, and German-style sausage; napkin-required yardbird; and sides that’ll make you swoon, like the fried mac or dirty rice.

Blood Bros. BBQ

Bellaire (opening late Aug, early September)

Outside-the-box BBQ with a new brick-and-mortar locale
It’s crazy to think that the people behind this pop up all have other full-time jobs. Brothers Robin and Terry Wong own and operate the popular Glitter Karaoke, and chief smoker Quy Hoang co-owns an aquarium shop with his uncle. After years working the pop-up scene, the trio is readying to open its brick-and-mortar location in Bellaire (expected to open late August to early September 2018). Look out for house specialties like behemoth 44 Farms brontosaurus ribs, smoked boudin, and stellar gochujang beef belly burnt ends

Gatlin’s BBQ

Garden Oaks/Oak Forest

Come here for the ribs. Stay here for the ribs.
With a fresh facility on Ella that happens to be about six times the size of its shuttered 19th St location, this family-run fan favorite is literally bigger and better than ever. You can still get owner and pit boss Greg Gatlin’s trio of smoked ribs (there’s a short and meaty baby back varietal, a St. Louis-style spare rib, and a megaton beef number). But now, you won’t have to wait outside in the parking lot. Engage your inner caveman and gnaw the ribs straight down to the bone — or get a fully loaded “kitchen sink” sandwich and finish the meal with a bowl of giblet-laden dirty rice so filthy you’ll need a cold shower afterward

Roegels Barbecue Co.

Tanglewood

Come for righteous brisket with a peppery, jet-black bark
Helmed by married duo Russell and Misty Roegels, this cult-favorite brings the heat with its incredibly smoky, fat-capped brisket, which comes complete with a gorgeous, crusty, jet-black bark. In just a short time, it’s become known as some of the best briskets in town, even earning the smokehouse a spot on Houston Chronicle’s coveted Top 100 list in 2015. But that’s not to say the other meats aren’t up to par. Get ‘em in the form of daily outtakes like Thursday’s Reuben sandwiches and Friday’s mammoth Friday-only pastrami beef ribs. Pair it all with Misty’s homey sides.

Corkscrew BBQ

Spring

Where moist brisket is the Magnum Opus, and the Bobert sandwich an unsung hero
Gone is the pink-and-black trailer. In its place is a pink-and-black brick & mortar. But while space is slightly bigger, this spot, co-owned by married all-stars Will and Nichole Buckman, may still be liable to sell out of a few items on late Saturday afternoon. People know it’s just that good. With a silky, perfectly rendered cap and crusty, blackened bark, the moist brisket here is one of the finest BBQ specimens in Houston. Get to Spring to blissfully destroy some, alongside stupendously blistered ribs, overloaded taters, and snappy pork sausage

Brook’s Place

Cypress

Proving East Texas BBQ earns its keep
Question: why would you go to Cypress? Answer: to absolutely smash some of Trent Brooks’ mind-numbingly delicious, smoldering slabs of smoked meat. The consistent, quality ‘cue garnered Brooks high praise among Houston’s BBQ aficionados. Come for crusty, still-jiggling brisket, bigger-than-your-bicep beef ribs, and sweet specials like smoked catfish. If you’re craving carbs (and who isn’t?), a juicy, sloppy pulled pork sandwich on a soft, buttery bun will do the trick

Pinkerton’s Barbecue

Heights

A young gun smokehouse with an up-and-coming pitmaster to watch
This Heights-area ‘cue spot showcases the transcendent works of native smoke master Grant Pinkerton, from wonderfully luscious Central Texas brisket and aggressively rubbed beef short ribs to candy-glazed pork ribs and duck jambalaya made daily. Take it down by the forkful, and finish the meal off with a from-scratch banana cake even your grandma would admit defeat to.

Jackson Street BBQ

Downtown

Best way to beef up before an Astros game
At long last, Downtown has a hot barbecue spot — and it’s a smoking gun. While ‘cue king Greg Gatlin was readying his Oak Forest haunt, he wisely spent his time on this ballpark-side grand slam with chef Bryan Caswell (of standbys Reef & Little Bigs). Head here for a trinity of masterfully smoked brisket, ribs, and German-style sausage; napkin-required yardbird; and sides that’ll make you swoon, like the fried mac or dirty rice

Killen’s Barbecue

Pearland

Home of the Texas-sized smoked beef rib
If there’s one reason, and one reason only, to take the ride to Pearland, it’s to eat at chef Ronnie Killen’s namesake smokehouse. Killen, who has both training at Le Cordon Bleu and experience at a booming steakhouse under his belt, takes care to make sure that each pound of dino-sized, beef ribs; tender, chocolatey-barked brisket; and stupidly good bone-in pork belly exceeds Texas standards. And it does. Now open for lunch and more formal dinner service, go for the smoked meat, but don’t miss happy surprises like dry-aged brisket, the insanely good fried chicken (Sundays), and brisket tacos.

The Brisket House

Tanglewood (& other locations)

Name aside, you’ll want to tack on some sausage
You probably wouldn’t think a BBQ joint in a strip mall would deserve mention. But this unassuming spot from owner Wayne Kammerl is worth a second look. He got his start at a smokehouse in College Station before relocating to Houston, but he brought his love for Ruffino Meats sausages with him. Those special-blend sausages star in the PB&J sandwich — don’t worry, there’s no peanut butter and jelly involved. Instead, it’s a pulled pork, brisket, and jalapeño sausage number that’s not to be missed. Neither is the one-pound special, in which you get a full pound of your choice of up to four meats, including 16-hour oak-and-pecan-smoked brisket, pork ribs, chicken, and sausage — all of which sit glistening on a sheet of butcher paper alongside a slab of cheddar, hot pickle, onion, and a fair amount of bread. The Brisket House now has locations in Deer Park and Cypress Creek

Tejas Chocolate Craftory

Tomball

Serious BBQ with a bean-to-bar chocolate side gig
Do yourself a favor and make a trip to Tomball, where you’ll find this sweet and smokey chocolate and BBQ joint absolutely killing it in the oldest building in town. As its name suggests, Tejas Chocolate Craftory started as a small bean-to-bar chocolate business, eventually making its way into smoked meats when it realized Tomball’s barbecue scene was lacking. Today, it’s highly regarded as one of the best spots in and around Houston, slow-smoking USDA certified 100% all-natural Prime grade briskets alongside daily specials like barbacoa Taco Tuesdays and Thursday’s pastrami beef ribs. Don’t forget to pick up a few cacao truffles while you’re at it

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