Houston
3. Smokin’ Z’s BBQ
Bayou Vista
$$$$

The basics: Down near Galveston Bay, Smokin’ Z’s quickly racked up a following for its Central Texas-style BBQ. Aside from their solid versions of the traditional stuff, husband and wife duo Zaid and Mallory Al-Jazrawi offer bold riffs on just about everything ‘cue-related. Expect Not Yo Madre’s Chorizo Sausages, Pork Belly BLTs, Panang Curry Boudin, and even a Smoked Cheesecake.
What the pitmasters say: “If we consider Pearland Houston, then this “Houston suburb” should also qualify. Simply because Zaid and wife Mallory have put their hearts and souls into bringing top notch Texas bbq to a region that is greatly underserved. That is very hard to do and by all accounts they are doing an incredible job. They deserve a bigger spotlight.” - Joseph Quellar, JQ’s Tex Mex BBQ
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating (outdoor) or call 832-586-6160 for pre-orders of 5lbs or more.

4. Gatlin's BBQ
Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
$$$$

The basics: This family-run fan favorite from pit boss Greg Gatlin underwent a bigger, better facelift when it moved from 19th to its new location on Ella. Current kitchen master and Executive Chef Michelle Wallace (who you can catch on this season of Food Network’s “BBQ Brawl”) is not just keeping the ship afloat, she’s elevating it to a whole new level with specials from Sausage, Chicken, Shrimp & Crab Gumbo to Smoked Oxtails. Order the trio of Smoked Ribs (there’s a short and meaty baby back varietal, a St. Louis-style spare rib, and a giant beef number) to engage your inner-caveman as you gnaw ‘em straight down to the bone or keep it slightly more civilized with a fully loaded "Kitchen Sink" Sandwich, Biscuits & Gravy, and giblet-laden Dirty Rice so filthy you’ll need a cold shower afterward.
What the pitmasters say: “There are few bridges to the BBQ of a bygone era left in Texas.
None of them have been able to bring that style of BBQ into the current landscape better than Greg, his family, and Head Chef Michelle Wallace. Their importance to the History of Houston BBQ should never be understated.” - Joseph Quellar, JQ’s Tex Mex BBQ
“The breakfast! Brisket tacos! Chicken and waffles! And the Sink sandwich—so good. Southern hospitality and BBQ at its finest. Their breakfast program is delicious. Especially the made-from-scratch biscuits.” - Don Nguyen, Khói Barbecue
“All three have flavorful and out the box product offerings that distinguish these joints in their own right as doing BBQ uniquely and consistently. Not only is their BBQ awesome, but the pitmasters are also as well! We are honored to be in their company!” (On Blood Bros., Feges, and Gatlin’s) - Karen Fain, Fainmous BBQ
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating.

5. Blood Bros. BBQ
Bellaire
$$$$

The basics: What started out as a pop-up between brothers Robin and Terry Wong (Glitter Karaoke) and best friend/chief smoker Quy Hoang has turned into a long-lasting barbecue love affair. These blood brothers opened their brick-and-mortar location in Bellaire in 2018, taking inspiration from their Chinese and Vietnamese roots to create next-gen, outside-the-box barbecue that challenges everything you thought you knew about smoked cuisine. Today, they’ve got another spot in Vegas and a James Beard nom for pitmaster Quy under their belt. Try the inventive specials like Brisket Burnt End Steamed Buns, Gochujang Glazed Pork Ribs, Smoked Turkey Banh Mi, and Thit Nuong Pork Belly.
What the pitmasters say: “Pitmaster Quy and the Wong brothers gave a voice to grossly underrepresented minorities in BBQ and allowed those cultures to shine. They have received many important and well deserved accolades in the process. Quy being James Beard nominated proves this.” - Joseph Quellar, JQ’s Tex Mex BBQ
“I could eat green curry boudin balls at Blood Bros. week-in, week-out and die happy.” - Vince Boisaubin, Feges BBQ
“All three have flavorful and out the box product offerings that distinguish these joints in their own right as doing BBQ uniquely and consistently. Not only is their BBQ awesome, but the pitmasters are also as well! We are honored to be in their company!” (On Blood Bros., Feges, and Gatlin’s) - Karen Fain, Fainmous BBQ
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or skip the line and order catering (48 hours notice, 5lb minimum)
online.

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