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BBQ Research–Houston, Texas Edition

Let me first write this: Houston is a serious eating town. If you have a diverse palate, you need to book  a trip to this city and stay several days. I was focused on African American barbecue joints, but I did sample some other cuisines. The food (Himalayan fried chicken, Vietnamese crawfish boil, and Palestinian fried chicken) was amazing. Whew! OK, on to the barbecue:

Lenox Bar-B-Q and Catering


This was my first stop. It’s a takeout place, so I ate the barbecue on the hood of my rental car. I ordered beef brisket, chicken, spareribs, macaroni salad and coleslaw. Pretty standard stuff here. Of all that I ordered, I liked the spareribs the most.

Ray’s BBQ Shack

For a mid-afternoon on a Friday, this place was JUMPIN’! Much more crowded than I expected. I can see why.

The food is pretty fantastic. I ordered beef brisket, chicken, pork spareribs, turkey breast, hot links, barbecue beans, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and banana pudding for dessert. Of these, the chicken, spareribs and turkey were the best. I highly recommend this place.

Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue

Pizzitola’s has a very interesting backstory. It first started in the 1950s as “Shepherd Drive BBQ” run by an African American couple named John and Lela Davis. It is now run by others outside of the family. I had beef brisket, pork spareribs, a Czech-style sausage, coleslaw, and potato salad. Of these, the sausage was the best. Everything else was pretty standard.

Triple J’s Smokehouse

I rolled to this place and a Friday night, and I thought I was in a club. Old school funk was blaring with a group assembled on the patio, and there was a steady flow of to-go orders. I wasn’t too hungry, but fortunately some other people joined me. I ordered beef brisket, boudain (a Creole sausage made of seasoned pork and rice. It’s usually spelled “boudin.”), chicken, hot links, pork spareribs, barbecued beans, dirty rice, green beans, and potato salad. The best of these were the boudain (nice texture, peppery), the hot links (coarse grind and spicy), and the pork spareribs (thin cut, and great flavor).

Gatlin’s BBQ

Such a great dining experience. Gatlin’s does so many things right. I ordered beef brisket, chicken,  hot links, pulled pork, venison sausage, turkey, coleslaw, collard greens, dirty rice, fried okra, macaroni and cheese, and potato salad. The real standouts were the brisket, ribs and venison. I was surprised by the pulled pork . . . it was made in North Carolina style with a healthy dose of vinegar and red pepper. I liked it, but I wonder how Houstonians feel about it. The collards and mac ‘n’ cheese were great sides.

Burns Original BBQ


When the late Anthony Bourdain made one of his filming trips in Houston, he made a stop at this joint. His research staff served him well. Of a trip full of spectacular barbecue, this took the slight edge as my favorite place. I ordered beef brisket, chicken, hot links, pork spareribs, baked beans, dirty rice, green beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, and potato salad. The spareribs were amazing . . . a slight char on the outside, a little chewy, and well-seasoned. The chicken had nice skin on the outside, and moist on the inside. The brisket was flavorful, and the hot links had the right amount of spice. I highly recommend this place!

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