13 Reasons Houston’s BBQ Scene Is Criminally Underrated

Houston tends to fly a bit under the radar when it comes to Texas' BBQ hotbeds. With all due respect to places like Austin and Lockhart, that's a damn shame! Though the well-deserved praise has started to trickle in, our BBQ game still doesn't get the love that it should. Here are 13 reasons that needs to change:

1. Because... just look at those beef ribs we made!

And by "we," we totally mean Ronnie Killen of Killen’s Barbecue. But the point still stands.

Houston Barbecue Festival

2. The Houston Barbecue Festival is pretty freaking incredible

Now in its third year, this meat-heavy fest is gaining attention from pitmasters near and far. This year’s lineup already includes the Brisket House, Brooks’ Place, and the highly touted Louie Mueller Barbecue, among 20 or so others.

Rodeo Houston

3. Everyone wants to go to the BBQ cook-off that kicks off the Rodeo

And it seems to get bigger and better every year. 240 teams showed up to last month’s World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, bringing happy Houstonians absurd amounts of on-point brisket, ribs, and chicken.

Flickr/David Hale Smith

4. This sandwich

The off-the-menu, sloppy-as-hell "Kitchen Sink" sandwich from Gatlin’s has a multitude of smoked meats, jalapeños, and giblet-laden dirty rice stuffed inside. More people should know about it.

Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack

5. Because the sides are just as important

Especially when said sides include fried corn on the cob.

Corkscrew BBQ

6. As are the desserts

If you can't make some room for the cobbler at CorkScrew BBQ, then you don't deserve it anyway!

Pinkerton's Barbecue

7. Because we’re constantly evolving

Both old-school and fledgling pitmasters work hard to tweak techniques and step up their game as Houston BBQ continues to rise. 


8. And we have room for the new guys

It’s not just big names and vintage joints that are gaining attention. Pop-ups like Blood Bros. BBQ and R&D Barbecue prove that even lesser known 'cue enthusiasts can make waves. Drool-worthy, meaty waves.

Triple J's Smokehouse Barbecue & Catering

9. Three words: Smoked. Cajun. Boudin.

East Texas BBQ means we’re smoking things like Cajun-spiced boudin. And that just makes the world a better place.

Houston Barbecue Festival/The Wooden Spoke BBQ

10. We don’t have to wait three hours in line to get three-hour-wait-worthy ‘cue

Sure, you’ll likely encounter a wait at some spots, but it’s nothing like those other cities’ nightmare lines. Plus, plentiful beers and Houston’s general friendliness help pass the time.

Ray's Real Pit BBQ

11. Ever heard of juicy links?

An African-American staple, these fatty all-beef links packed with garlic, paprika, and other spices have remained an integral part of Houston’s barbecue scene since they were popularized in the Fifth Ward in the ‘40s. Cut them open and you’ll see where the name comes from.

Corkscrew BBQ

12. This city is a melting pot. A delicious melting pot.

Meaning our ‘cue is globally influenced. Think things like smoked pork tamales, pork belly bruschetta, Creole-spiced turkey, and bacon wrapped in sausage wrapped in bacon -- which, okay, is not exactly globally influenced, but you're still glad it exists, right?

Killen's BBQ

13. The local industry love and support goes unrivaled

It’s not a fight to the finish here. Houston’s chefs, bars, and restaurants have each other’s backs, leading to some truly excellent collaborations, gnarly pop-ups, and an all-around good vibe.

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