Eastern Texas barbecue is a sub-regional style that truly deserves more attention. It’s an interesting blend of Creole influences and traditional Texas barbecue. It’s most distinctive elements are beef link sausage and boudin sausage (interestingly spelled “boudain” in many instances). The latter is sausage stuffed with seasoned meat and boiled rice. I really appreciate Houston Chronicle columnist J.C. Reid for joining me. I learned a lot during the half-day that we spent together. Here are the joints that I visited:
My first stop in Beaumont. I had a great time talking to George Gerard about a wide range of topics. Fortunately for me, his mom was helping out that morning, so I chatted with her as well. I ordered the beef link, sliced beef brisket, chicken, smoked pork neck bones, pork spareribs, chili beans, potato salad, and rice dressing. Of these, the beef link and the chicken were very tasty! I loved that our food was served on one of those school cafeteria trays. That sure did bring back some memories. Read a nice article on Gerard’s here.
Founded in 1912, this is one of the oldest barbecue restaurants in the country. It’s a great spot with good ambience and food. I ordered the beef link, the chopped beef sandwich, a boudin, and some dirty rice. The sandwich was a revelation–tender, chopped beef in a deep chocolate-colored gravy. I wanted to inhale the entire sandwich, but I chilled. That’s right, I chilled because I knew I had a lot more food in my near future.
This well-known takeout place was pretty on the Saturday morning while I visited. I ordered a beef link, boudain, chicken and pork spareribs. I loved the boudain the most. It was well-seasoned and it paired up well with the saltine crackers.
The cool thing about hanging out with a local barbecue expert is that he or she can point out places to visit that may not have been on your radar screen. Charlie’s is one of those gems. So many great and interesting things on the menu here. I ordered beef link, boudain, pork neck bones, oxtails, pork spareribs, cracklins (impressed to even see that fried, rendered pork fat would even be an option), potato salad, and rice dressing. The beef link and spareribs were very good, but the neck bones and the oxtails were next-level. Both were a little chewy, spicy, and very flavorful. Unusual for a barbecue place, but a welcome menu option. Fantastically, Charlie’s was picked as a “Best new BBQ restaurant” by Texas Monthly.
Jaws Bar-B-Que II in Port Arthur
Not too far from Beaumont in Port Arthur which had some places of note, but unfortunately, one of them had permanently closed. Jaws was open though. This place has a limited menu, so I got a beef link and saltine cracks with a combination of barbecue sauce and mustard as condiments. It was a filling snack, but nothing outstanding.
Bonus Coverage: Leon’s World Finest In and Out Bar-B-Que, Galveston, TX
I’ve read a lot about Leon’s, and I’ve always wanted to visit Galveston because of the Juneteenth story. I had a packed schedule, but Leon’s was open on Sunday. It made for a nice excursion to get some church in at Reedy Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church (established in 1848!), and then head for lunch at Leon’s.
I ordered “Leon’s cut” (beef clod), chicken (called “yard bird” on the menu), pork spareribs, turnip greens, mac ‘n’ cheese, potato salad, and a slice of rum cake. All of the food was really good, but I’m still dreaming about the incredibly tender and flavorful beef clod meat and the earthy and velvety turnip greens.