June 29, 2022

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The 15 best BBQ restaurants in Houston

9 min read

While Central Texas may get all of the praise for its star-led barbecue destinations, there are plenty of power players packed within the urban confines of the Houston area. Trusty pitmasters that have served the city for decades continue to thrive, but there are also a number of hidden gems worth seeking out, including innovators who are interpreting the cuisine in new ways. Lines have long been blurred between barbecue and Tex-Mex. These days, East Asian, Cajun and even French influences have joined the mix.

While you may think you know all the who’s-who and what’s-what in Houston’s barbecue community, consider our pro tips next time you set out on a ‘cue excursion. Here’s where to dive in at 15 of the best BBQ joints in Houston.

Blood Bros. BBQ

In recent years, this barbecue joint located in a nondescript Bellaire retail strip has skyrocketed in popularity, even opening an outpost in the buzzy new Resorts World Hotel in Las Vegas. Helmed by brothers Robin and Terry Wong with their pal Quy Hoang, Houston’s first Vietnamese-American pitmaster, the restaurant excels at staples like brisket and sliced turkey breast, but also puts an Asian twist on its offerings with specials like smoked char siu pork banh mi sandwiches and gochujang-glazed pork ribs. 

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Go for the barbecue, stay for: quirky specials like the beefaroni-inspired sausage.

Chopped brisket sandwich with a side of mac and cheese at Blood Bros. BBQ.

Chopped brisket sandwich with a side of mac and cheese at Blood Bros. BBQ.

Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer

Find it: 5425 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, TX 77401
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Brett’s Barbecue Shop

Brett’s in Katy does it all, and well. The restaurant is a solid place to find lean and moist brisket, juicy turkey breast, oversized beef ribs and sausage made in-house, including daily specials like queso flameado, which delivers just the right amount of cheese porn. Sides like baked beans, potato salad and red cabbage coleslaw are simple, but worth an order.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: the big ass brisket chili dog, which makes surprise appearances as a special from time to time.

A meal from Brett's Barbecue Shop.

A meal from Brett’s Barbecue Shop.

FoodWanderer A. via Yelp

Find it: 606 Mason Road, Katy, TX 77450
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

Burns Original BBQ

This decades-old barbecue joint is rooted in history, including a well-documented visit by the late Anthony Bourdain in 2016 for his hit CNN show “Parts Unknown.” Sandwiches are built on thick pieces of white bread that cradle hefty cuts of meat, while baked potatoes packed with a mess of gooey toppings may not be worthy of the ‘gram, but they are great to the last bite.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: snapping a pic in front of the Burns mural, which pays tribute to the late Bourdain.

Ribs from Burns Original BBQ.

Ribs from Burns Original BBQ.

Jo P. via Yelp

Find it: 8307 De Priest St., Houston, TX 77088
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.


Corkscrew BBQ

You’ll want to go often—and arrive early—for a meal at Corkscrew BBQ in Spring. The family-owned restaurant, run by husband and wife Will and Nichole Buckman, sells out on the regular, and for good reason. The brisket, cooked on red oak, offers a melt-in-your-mouth moment you won’t soon forget, while over-the-top sides include pulled pork-topped mac and cheese and sundae-inspired barbecue bowls built with layers of beans, coleslaw and sausage. 

Go for the barbecue, stay for: a smothering of cheese. Corkscrew is known for topping its barbecue with house-made, three-cheese queso.

Corkscrew BBQ's pork ribs, turkey, sausage, pulled pork, brisket and cobbler.

Corkscrew BBQ’s pork ribs, turkey, sausage, pulled pork, brisket and cobbler.

Alison Cook/Houston Chronicle

Find it: 26608 Keith St., Spring, TX 77373
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Feges BBQ

Before opening two locations of their namesake restaurant—in Greenway Plaza and most recently in Spring Branch—husband and wife duo Patrick and Erin Feges earned a loyal following in the Houston barbecue community with their pop-ups, which featured Patrick’s whole-hog cooking and Erin’s elevated sides. Now, by way of their brick-and-mortar restaurants, guests can enjoy all that and more. Feges serves chopped brisket sandwiches, whole-hog platters and non-traditional barbecue sides like spicy Korean braised greens, Moroccan carrots and Southern panzanella.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: the happy hour specials on wine and beer from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at the Spring Break location.

Feges BBQ serves chopped brisket sandwiches, whole-hog platters and non-traditional barbecue sides. 

Feges BBQ serves chopped brisket sandwiches, whole-hog platters and non-traditional barbecue sides. 

Michael S. via Yelp

Find it: 3 Greenway Plaza, Suite C-210, Houston, TX 77046
Hours: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Find it: 8217 Long Point Road, Houston, TX 77055
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Gatlin’s BBQ 

The Gatlin family is among the pioneers of Houston’s craft barbecue scene. Greg Gatlin and his mother, Mary, helm this Garden Oaks retail-strip gem, along with executive chef Michelle Wallace. Since launching Gatlin’s BBQ more than a decade ago, they have created a comfortable destination to sit down with sausage-topped loaded potatoes, baby-back ribs and smoked meat sandos, as well as catfish and oxtail dishes. They also run an outpost out of IAH, appropriately named Q.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: the sides, which deserve equal attention here. They include dirty rice, fried okra, cucumber salad, collard greens, yams and more.

The smoked bologna sandwich at Gatlin's BBQ is one of the restaurant's out-of-the-barbecue-box's offerings.

The smoked bologna sandwich at Gatlin’s BBQ is one of the restaurant’s out-of-the-barbecue-box’s offerings.

Alison Coook / Alison Cook

Find it: 3510 Ella Blvd., Bldg C Ste A, Houston, TX 77018
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.

Harlem Road BBQ

While a cigar-smoking, cowboy hat-wearing, stone-faced pitmaster at the helm of Harlem Road BBQ is an appropriate face for the Richmond restaurant, Ara Malekian also brings major star power. The Armenian-born, Switzerland-trained chef has loads of fine dining experience, including working under celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. Malekian puts a thoughtful spin on Texas barbecue, crafting his own house-made bacon and butter to cook with, and smoking meats exclusively on vintage, oak wine staves.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: the chocolate bread pudding and a cup of chef Malekian’s fresh-brewed Armenian coffee.

Harlem Road BBQ smokes its meats exclusively on vintage, oak wine staves.

Harlem Road BBQ smokes its meats exclusively on vintage, oak wine staves.

Adrianne L. via Yelp

Find it: 9823 Harlem Road, Richmond, TX 77407
Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Killen’s Barbecue

Since the opening of multiple outposts of his wildly popular barbecue joint—in the Woodlands and inside NRG and Minute Maid parks—it’s now easier to get your paws on Ronnie Killen’s prized ‘cue, but no experience compares to visiting the original restaurant in Pearland. Eager diners crowd the entrance before opening time, then journey through the cafeteria-style line and choose from 1-, 2- and 3-meat plates, baked potatoes, barbecue chicken and more. The outdoor pavilion is always buzzing with activity and is open to four-legged friends.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: the classic desserts like banana pudding and pecan pie, which Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Killen has perfected.

Killen's Barbecue has grown far beyond its original outpost in Pearland.

Killen’s Barbecue has grown far beyond its original outpost in Pearland.

Nick de la Torre/Freelance

Find it: 3613 E. Broadway St., Pearland, TX 77581
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Pinkerton’s Barbecue

Without any formal training, Grant Pinkerton managed to reach great heights with his namesake Houston barbecue restaurant, which now has an outpost in San Antonio. The famous glazed, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs have a cult following, and straightforward sides like coleslaw, potato salad and mac and cheese go with just about everything else.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: a to-go bottle of Pinkerton’s barbecue sauce—available in original, gold and Tennessee red varieties—to try your hand at cooking ‘cue faves at home.

Pinkerton's Barbecue cooks up stellar smoked meats in the Heights.

Pinkerton’s Barbecue cooks up stellar smoked meats in the Heights.

J.C. Reid / Contributor

Find it: 1504 Airline Drive, Houston, TX 77009
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

The Pit Room

Follow the smell of smoke to this Montrose hangout, which boasts all of the barbecue essentials, including pork and beef ribs and brisket cooked onsite in barrel-style offset smokers. In a separate sausage cooker, the restaurant produces Czech-style beef sausage, jalapeño cheddar pork sausage and black pepper and garlic venison sausage, available daily. Not uncommon with Texas ‘cue, the restaurant puts a Tex-Mex twist on its menu with barbecue-filled tacos available all day, beginning at 7 a.m. for breakfast. Brisket, pulled pork and smoked chicken tacos are made with tortillas cooked in brisket fat, for extra oomph.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: grown-up beverages at the adjoining Patio at the Pit Room bar.

The many sides offered at The Pit Room in Montrose.

The many sides offered at The Pit Room in Montrose.

J.C. Reid / Contributor

Find it: 1201 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX 77006
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.

Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue

This iconic barbecue restaurant, whose roots date back to 1934, continues to operate using its old brick pit. While the restaurant has changed hands throughout its rich history, the food and old-school vibes remain consistent. Along with classic barbecue dinners, additions have included top-notch Tex-Mex features like meat-filled queso with chips and barbecue fajitas.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: the fan-favorite brisket enchiladas with red chili gravy, available on Fridays only.

Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue initially opened as Shepherd Drive Bar-B-Q in 1934.

Pizzitola’s Bar-B-Cue initially opened as Shepherd Drive Bar-B-Q in 1934.

Michael Paulsen/Staff

Find it: 1703 Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX 77007
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack

Rayford Busch is the “Ray” in Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack, and the man responsible for offering soulful eats in Third Ward for almost four decades. The simple draw here is hickory-smoked meats accompanied by homemade sides–and boy, do the sides impress. Ray’s serves loaded Jake fries topped with beef, beans and barbecue sauce, but for something truly unique, try the fully fried corn on the cob.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: damn good fried fish and shrimp platters complete with fries and hushpuppies, if you’re not a big meat eater or want something different.

Ray's BBQ Shack's two meat combo with sausage and brisket.

Ray’s BBQ Shack’s two meat combo with sausage and brisket.

Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle

Find it: 3929 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, TX 77021
Hours: Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Roegels Barbecue

Barbecue veterans Russel and Misty Roegel have made a name for themselves with their Galleria-area restaurant, and continue to expand their footprint with a new outpost in Katy that opened in February. The brisket touts a nice, peppery bark, but you’ll also find slow-smoked pulled pork shoulder, whole barbecue chicken and prime brisket sandwiches with sides like Texas caviar and loaded mashed potatoes.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: the pastrami, which is offered on Thursdays only as a special at both locations.

Moist brisket with 30% fat from Roegels Barbecue.

Moist brisket with 30% fat from Roegels Barbecue.

Arianne L. via Yelp

Find it: 2223 S Voss Road, Houston, TX 77057
Hours: Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Find it: 20702 Katy Freeway, Katy, TX 77449
Hours: Monday-Tuesday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue

What was once a chocolate shop that served some barbecue is now equal parts barbecue restaurant and chocolate “craftory.” Crowds pack into the quaint Tomball destination, where a fresh bounty of daily-made chocolate truffles is organized in neat rows under a glass case. Pulled pork tacos, burnt ends and sliced pastrami are all worthy, but with the brisket, you’ll experience a level of moistness not often reached by other establishments.

Go for the barbecue (and chocolates!), stay for: the carrot soufflé. Trust us, you’ll want to satisfy your sweet tooth with this in addition to the Texas-sized truffles.

Brisket and sides from Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue.

Brisket and sides from Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue.

Joanne L. via Yelp

Find it: 200 N. Elm St., Tomball, TX 77375
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Truth BBQ

Following the success of his small roadside shack in Brenham, self-taught pitmaster Leonard Botello IV made big waves by bringing his famed Central Texas-style barbecue to a sparkly new outpost on Heights Boulevard in Houston, which he runs with his wife Abbie Byrom. Botello’s expertise with live-fire cooking and producing brisket, Carolina whole hog, house-made sausage and smoked pork ribs have made him a household barbecue name in Texas.

Go for the barbecue, stay for: a towering slice of layer cake in flavors like coconut, triple chocolate and banana caramel.

Smoked meats from Truth BBQ.

Smoked meats from Truth BBQ.

Diane C. via Yelp

Find it: 110 S Heights Blvd., Houston, TX 77007
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.



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