The basics: Chicano-style BBQ is the name of the game at this groundbreaking Astral Brewing-based weekend pop-up. The birria tacos are the thing to get: Plump with fall-apart birria de res, crisped up, and flying off the griddle good and greasy, even arriving with consommé for your dipping pleasure. You can easily take down a few of them, but you may want to save room for other delights like cheesy carnitas and smoked brisket.
What the pitmasters say: “There’s something about a pop-up that makes me giddy and JQ’s Tex Mex BBQ just does it for me. Perhaps it’s the fact that I can’t just walk into a BBQ joint and eat his food anytime I want, but his brisket birria tacos are hands down the best in town... when you can get ‘em.” - Vince Boisaubin, Feges BBQ
“Love his take on Tex-Mex BBQ. His birria tacos are [fire emoji, fire emoji, fire emoji]” - Quy Hoang, Blood Bros. BBQ
How to book: Stop by for counter service or order take-out online.
There’s truly no place like Texas when it comes to barbecue. You’ll find various styles of its signature slow-smoked, pit-style brisket, pulled pork, and ribs at festivals, food trucks, and restaurants across the state — which means you’re going to need to stay awhile to try them all. Plan your Texas vacation now and travel when you’re ready to have a barbecue experience that’ll blow your mind (or at least your taste buds).
The basics: Knoxville-inspired hickory smoke and savory vinegar based sauces are at the forefront of this Tennessee-style outpost from husband and wife team James and Karen Fain. The duo first gained loyal fans in Meyerland before opening up shop in the artsy Sawyer Yards district in 2020 and keying in on what sets them apart: smoked vegetarian and vegan options. Feast on dishes like Mama’s Backyard BBQ cauliflower, chickpea salad, and spinach casserole alongside staples like badass pulled pork, ribs, and smoked whole chicken, if you’re so inclined.
What the pitmasters say: “They were my neighborhood BBQ joint for so many years—it's not Texas BBQ, it's Tennessee BBQ. I always get the pulled pork sandwich, and now they serve cauliflower that's been smoked, breaded, fried, and then tossed in BBQ sauce like a cauliflower burnt end. It's one of my favorite bites.” - Patrick Feges, Feges BBQ
How to book: Stop by for counter service, order take-out online, or get nationwide delivery via Goldbelly.
The basics: Down near Galveston Bay lies a smokin’ newcomer that’s already garnering fans far and wide: Central Texas-style BBQ truck Smokin’ Z’s. Aside from their solid version of the traditional stuff, husband and wife duo Zaid and Mallory Al-Jazrawi put out outrageous riffs on just about everything else. Expect a gooey mac’ and cheese bowl ladled with pulled pork, pork belly BLTs, brisket grilled cheese, and even a smoked cheesecake.
What the pitmasters say: “Smokin Z's should be on everyone's radar! Like us, they have already started making a name for themselves and they are amazing!” - Joseph Quellar, JQ’s Tex Mex BBQ
How to book: Stop by for counter service or call 832-586-6160 for take-out (five pound minimum).
The basics: This family-run fan favorite underwent a bigger, better facelift when it moved from 19th to its new location on Ella. Order pit boss Greg Gatlin’s trio of smoked ribs (there’s a short and meaty baby back varietal, a St. Louis-style spare rib, and a megaton beef number) and engage your inner-caveman as gnaw ‘em straight down to the bone or change it up with a fully loaded "kitchen sink" sandwich. Either way, you’ll want to accompany your main with a giblet-laden dirty rice so filthy you’ll need a cold shower afterward.
What the pitmasters say: “The breakfast! Brisket tacos! Chicken and waffles! And the Sink sandwich—so good. Southern hospitality and BBQ at its finest.” - Don Nguyen, Khói Barbecue
How to book: Stop by for first come, first served seating or order take-out via Toast.
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 full-on 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. Get ingenious specials like brisket burnt end steamed buns, gochujang glazed pork ribs, smoked turkey banh mi, and thit nuong pork belly, among other enticements.
What the pitmasters say: “I could eat green curry boudin balls at Blood Bros. week-in, week-out and die happy.” - Vince Boisaubin, Feges BBQ
How to book: Stop by for counter service, call 713-664-7776 for take-out, place catering orders online (five pound minimum).