Corkscrew BBQ

6/27/13 11:15am - I am 22 deep in line 15 minutes after the open sign went up.  Congrats on making 2013 Texas Monthly top 50.  The 95 degree heat is not enough to keep patrons from lining up to taste some serious "que.

I scored Corksrew a 92 out 100.  Grand Champion Texas BBQ no doubt.

Smoke:  Red Oak.  Steel Barrel wood fired REAL PIT bbq. Amen.  They guy that took my order looked like he was into a whole different kind of Cheech and Chong style of smokin.

Brisket:  Very Good.  This is border line Excellent brisket.  A disappointing 1/8 in smoke ring was the 1 point this brisket needed from making Excellent.  Nearly perfect tenderness, snap apart, no knife needed masterpiece.  Bark was thin and soft. Ring and meat was dark.  Smoke was Goldilocks:  not too much, not too little, just right.  Overall flavor was above average and no sauce is needed.  I got a burnt end but it did not tasted any different than the slices.

Ribs:  Very Good.  Near perfect tenderness, soft bite, clean bone, no tearing.  It had a nice salty porky flavor.  Good smoke.  No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Good.  Typical course ground pork sausage with traditional spice and average after taste. A Little greasy.  Decent smoke and good flavor.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Excellent.  This BBQ is really good, but its when you apply the sauce do you understand why people stand in line in 95 degree heat.  This sauce would make the gravel you stand on taste good.  A onion, vinegar, lemon buttery tomato base sauce sauce that is good enough to drink.  Nothing here needs the sauce but when applied you fall in love.

Corkscrew BBQ on Urbanspoon

Mo's Bar-B-Q

6/19/13 12:28pm - Its Juneteenth and that means BBQ is on the menu. I was near the humble area for a meeting so I scoped out this place on yelp.

I scored Mo's a 77 out of 100. This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke: ???? who knows. No visible stacks, no listing on menu or website. Suspicious. The smokers are on the side. I could not make out the manufacture. They had the suspicious exhaust vents. Hidden from view inside. I am guessing these are gassers. Evidence leans to gas fired rotisserie.

Brisket: Good. They got the tenderness right but most gassers do. Little smoke, no rub just beef flavor. You don't have to drive out to humble to get this slice of roast beef. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Fair. They got the tenderness right but that is all. Remember when your mom used to make meatloaf and she spread ketchup over the top and came out of the oven a dry paste goop? Well they do the same with their ribs with the sauce. Ribs are finished "wet" with their sauce reduced to a paste goop. If they tasted great I would have scored them higher. Skip all together.

Sausage: Very Good. They one thing they purchase is the best thing on the plate. A great German sausage with bold traditional spice and nice after taste. Snappy casing. No sauce needed. I totally support BBQ joints buying Texas made sausage. I also support they proudly advertise where its made. Its good for Texas

Sauce: Good. A dark ketchup thick sweet and smokey sauce in the Kansas City style.
Mo's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Boogie's Chicago Style BBQ

6/15/13 11:28am - Who can resist a joint with a name like Boogie's? Still not sure what "Chicago" style means cuz this is some good ole Texas 'Que.

I scored Boogies an 86 out 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ

Smoke: Oak and Pecan. Wood fired barrel REAL PIT smoker. Amen

Brisket: Good. 1/4in smoke ring. Tested tough of tender which always hurts the score. Not fork tender, used a knife. Perfect balance of smoke and rub. When I had a bite of bark, fat & beef I nearly fell out of my chair. This brisket was so good i finished it before i open the sauce. The harmony between the full smoke and salty rub is to die for. No sauce needed at all ever.

Ribs: Excellent. Once again the balance between rub and smoke made this St Louis rib one for the record books. This is the first rib that the aroma alone made me stop an look. I bet I smelt that rib three or four times before i took first bite. Heaven. Eating it was better than smelling it. Flavor was over the top. Near perfect tender, a little over cooked fall off bone. No sauce needed at all.

Sausage: Very Good. A fabulous homemade pork/beef sausage with strong traditional spice and good herb flavor. A nice after taste and decent smoke ensure you eat every slice. No sauce needed at all.

Sauce: Good. A brown thick sweet sauce. A Strong honey brown sugar syrupy sacue that stuck to everything that came into contact with. It masked the great BBQ flavor of the meats. Sauce at Boogies is an after thought. They really don't need it and this stuff hides the over the top flavor.

The staff was friendly and help with some photos. I asked what Chicago style meant, and he replied "its all in the way we cooked it, we don't cook no brisket 17 hours or nothin" Well, I guess that's the difference between 4 star and 5 star. So close.
Boogie's Chicago Style BBQ on Urbanspoon

Houston Barbecue Company

6/11/13 Revised
6/10/13 12:10pm - A great sauce can hide a multitude of sins. This simple BBQ truth applies here.

I scored Houston Barbecue a 74 out of 100. This is Regional Texas BBQ

Smoke: Oak? Got that off a website. I could not find a stick of it anywhere. An old review mention that they use wood only to fire pits. Then where is the wood? (on the roof) Where are the pits? (hidden). Its wood fired BBQ, check out the photos posted after my review.

Brisket: Fair. 1/16in smoke ring. Tested tough of tender and finished dry. Bark had little smoke and flavor. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Good. Near perfect tender, clean bite, clean bone. Little smoke and little flavor. Use the sauce.

Sausage: Poor. Big disappointment. This is a handmade beef sausage in the central Texas style. It looked great and I could not wait for my first bite. I had to eat a few bites before my eyes believed my taste buds. It was one dimensional in flavor. Mushy beef. A little smoke and maybe garlic but that's it. No salt. No black pepper. No herbs. Zero after taste. No bold flavor. Nothing Nada. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Excellent. A mustard vinegar orange sauce in the style of Luling and Salt Lick. Very tangy with strong cider vinegar honey flavor. It tasted great by the
spoonful and I had a more than a few spoonfuls. They should rethink the butcher paper. They should go to plates so they can drown the BBQ in this sauce.

Houston Barbecue Company on Urbanspoon

Pappas Bar-B-Q

6/7/13 11:54am - Franchise Texas BBQ for the low information masses. This is Pappas BBQ #19.

I scored Pappas a 78 out of 100. This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke: Hickory. No secret here, the big black Olyers are proudly displayed behind the glass. Wood fired BBQ.

Brisket: Good. A big thick smoke ring on the edges and 1/4in thick in the middle. Great bark with rub. A little tough of tender but moist. I got a yummy burnt end. Good smoke and good flavor. No sauce needed. A good product for franchise BBQ.

Ribs: Good. Tough of tender, tearing and dirty bone. Sticky sweet and nice rub. Decent smoke. No sauce needed. Brown sugar hides a lot of sins No sauce needed.

Sausage: Good. Traditional spice fine ground pork sausage and mild after taste. A little greasy. Average. Average. Average. Use the sauce.

Original Sauce: Fair. A bitter burnt ancho chili based disaster. Who thinks this stuff is good? I wonder how many plates of decent BBQ they have ruined over the years by pouring this medicine over it. They have a sweet version which is same sauce with molasses. Two disasters to choose from. Skip it all together or bring
your own.

Pappas Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack

6/6/13 12:17pm - Mercedes, Hummers, cop cars, King Ranch pickups and clunkers like mine start filling up precious parking space around lunch time. The combination of Texas BBQ and down home cooking is a winner no matter who you are.

I scored Ray's 81 out 100. This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke: Hickory. The words "real pit" are in the name, but there is little evidence for wood fired barbecue. This place has all the hallmarks of gas fired rotisserie. Smoker is hidden from view, no visible stacks of wood, 1/8in smoke ring and the exhaust vent on the roof. I call bunk on "real pit".

Brisket: Good. 1/8in brown smoke ring. Nice thin bark. Dry of tender, starts out moist but finishes dry. Brisket falls apart. I suspect foil wrap and long cook time. Descent smoke, rub and good flavor. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Very Good. Very tender, clean bite, clean bone. A salty rub and good smoke. No sauce needed.

Spicy Sausage: Excellent. Biggest surprise of all. This may be the best spicy sausage in Houston. Its the best I've had. A homemade, coarse ground pork sausage with great herb flavor and red pepper flake kick. Lasting after taste. Casing was crisp and smokey. No sauce needed at all. Package it and sell it at HEB. Its that good.

Sauce: Excellent. A sweet sauce with Tabasco kick. Different and delicious. A thick tomato base with honey, brown sugar and molasses flavors. It did not work well with the sausage but gave the beef and ribs a great flavor boost. Dip the first bite and you will dip every bite after that.

PS: Potato salad was so good I forgot there was barbecue on the plate.
Ray’s BBQ Shack on Urbanspoon

Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q

5/24/13 11:49pm - I have noticed a lot of Yelpers use Rudy's as their baseline to compare other BBQ joints. I support that. Rudy's is all about the flavor. I have always been a Rudy's fan long before they started expanding all over Texas. My hunting buddy and I planned many a trip home making sure we passed through Leon Springs during lunch time. I am impressed how they have duplicated that experience everywhere.

I scored Rudy's an 89 out 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ

Smoke: Oak. Big stacks taking up precious parking space. This location had 3 big black Olyers. I snuck a peek behind the sheet metal fence and saw the blue smoke oozing out of the fire box.

Brisket: Good. A picture perfect piece of brisket. Rich thick black bark with bright red 1/4in smoke ring. A little tough of tender. A great rub and full smoke flavor and you forget you used a knife. No sauce needed at all.

Ribs: Good. A little touch of tender and slight dirty bone. Great peppery rub and good smoke flavor. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Excellent. This was the biggest surprise of all. I am always looking for something a little different and this hit the mark. Strong traditional spice with some awesome subtle nutty flavor. I could not tell what it was but it was sooo good. There was a hint of smoke and it had a great peppery after taste. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Excellent. I have to give Rudy's a perfect score because my own personal recipe was created to taste like Rudy's. This has always been my favorite sauce in Texas.

In a nutshell, Rudy's is all about flavor. Everything tastes great all by itself. If this is your standard of great Texas BBQ, you are right. And since they are popping
up all over the Lone Star, get use to phrases like "just as good as Rudy's", "better than Rudy's" and "not as good as Rudy's".

Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

The Salt Lick BBQ

5/17/13 12:00PM - A 5 star experience but 3 star barbecue. This is a great Texas barbecue excursion. Get a group of friends, get a cooler of Shiner, block out four hours and have the Texas time of your life. Every Texan needs to go at least once in their life. A great venue to hang out waiting for your table. Family style BBQ is great for groups.

I scored Salt Lick 81 out of 100. This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke: Oak. Cowboy style pit. They cook and mop directly over the coals.

Brisket: Good. A 1/4in smoke ring. Soft black bark. Tough of tender hurt the score. I had to use the knife. Good smoke and the sauce mop added a nice subtle sweetness. No sauce needed.

Ribs: Very Good. Small spare ribs. Tender sift bite, clean bone and a little tearing at the ends. Sweeten with same sauce mop. Good smoke and good flavor. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Good. A pork/beef fine ground with mild traditional spice and little after taste. A little greasy. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Good. No tomatoes in this sauce. Its like a tangy smokey honey mustard. Its different but good.
The Salt Lick Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Brook's Place

5/16/13 12:45pm - Congrats on making Texas Monthly top 50! They got it right. Where ever you are you are not too far. It is worth the drive. So glad Houston has another Top 50.

I scored Blake's Place 92 out of 100. This is Grand Champion Texas BBQ.

Smoke: A mobile oak stack in the back of owner's pickup. A big old black steel barrel REAL PIT! Its an ancient smoke monster.

Brisket: Very Good. Border line excellent. A 1/4 to 5/16 inch smoke ring. Rich black charred bark. Snap apart tender, fork tender. Full intense sweet oak flavor. Flavor is over the top, no sauce needed at all.

Ribs: Very Good. I love me some baby backs. Cake soft tender in the middle and little tearing at the ends. A rosy red smoke ring. Good smoke flavor. A nice subtle subtle sweetness that will make you scratch your head, is it the smoke? No sauce needed at all.

Sausage: Excellent. A big strong traditional spice coarse ground pork/beef sausage. A strong after taste will keep you licking your lips and stuffing your face. Little grease. No sauce needed at all.

Sauce: Very Good. My first thought is What is that flavor? I know that flavor! What is it?!? its Cinnamon. Crazy good and completely different sauce. A tangy sweet with lemon and apple cider sauce. It complemented the ribs more than the brisket or sausage. Get it on the side and enjoy its flavor boost.
PS: There is only one picnic table, so get it to go. its not a food truck, its a goose neck trailer.
Brooks' Place on Urbanspoon

Virgie's Bar-B-Que

5/9/13 11:31am - Still serving 5 star BBQ. It has been a year since I started this BBQ nonsense. Virgies was my first review and the first to suffer my scoring system. My scoring system has evolved a little since last year. I have sampled many BBQ joints since. So how did Virgie's measure up one year later......

I re-scored Virgie's a 93 out of 100. This is still Grand Champion Texas BBQ.

Smoke: Oak & Pecan. REAL PIT makes a difference. Virgies is still smokin! I got my order to go and I could smell the smoke before I open the container. In a Houston smoke desert, Virgie's is an oasis.

Brisket: Excellent. This may be the be slice of brisket in Houston. 1/4" smoke ring. Beautiful black bark with subtle rub. FULL smoke flavor (Heaven!). A little bite of smokey fat and I forgot my name. Snap apart tender, no knife needed. No sauce needed at all.

Ribs: Very Good. Tender, clean bite, clean bone, a little tearing of bark. Big meaty pork rib with beautiful black crust and rosy ring. Could not detect a rub. FULL smoke flavor. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Very Good. After sampling so many, this sausage is definitely above average. Traditional strong spiced course ground pork/beef link. Great strong peppery after taste. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Very Good. Sweet. Honey sweet, mild tangyness. Good flavor, but what makes this sauce great is how it makes great BBQ taste even better. Nothing here
needs the sauce but you will dip every bite in this stuff.

Virgie's BBQ on Urbanspoon

The County Line

5/8/13 12:10pm - It has been a long time since I visited this location, it will be a long time before I return. This is typical Houston gas fired barbecue.

I scored The County Line a 68 out of 100. This is Bum Steer BBQ.

Smoke: Website says oak. Could not find a stack anywhere which would explain its absence on the barbecue. There is an embarrassing video where Paula Dean's sons help load the Southern Pride gas oven. Are you kidding me? This is their Texas barbecue experience? They should edit that stupid film and remove all references to Texas.

Brisket: Good. They got the tenderness part right. Barely 1/8in smoke ring and no bark. It was tasteless and smokeless roast beef. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Poor. You can get better pork ribs at Chili's. Seriously, I could have made these ribs in a crock pot. Use the sauce.

Sausage: Good. Nothing special. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Good. Average tomato vinegar based sauce. Drown the whole plate in it. They also had a "Pork Sauce". It was weird. My first thought was Orange Juice.
The waitress confirmed it. I hated it.

The County Line BBQ on Urbanspoon

The Brisket House

4/30/13 11:48 - Not sure if this is good news or bad news. This is the best gas fired BBQ I have eaten. Hurts to admit it, but when held to a standard it scored very well. They pay close attention to everything on the menu.

I scored Brisket House an 88 out of 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ. A first for gas fired BBQ.

Smoke: Oak & Pecan. Gas fired Southern Pride oven in full view and rubbing my nose in it. Unimpressive teeny tiny stack of wood in plain sight. There is a Houston Press article framed on the wall "Brisket Done Right". Wrong. Their brochure reads "..and a lot of TLC". Wrong. Setting the temp gage and hitting the on button before you go home for the night is not "brisket done right" or takes "a lot of TLC". The article should read Southern Pride gas oven done right.

Brisket(?): Very Good. Is it shoulder or brisket? It was sliced with the grain. Had a 1/4in smoke ring and a wet soft black bark. Snap apart tender, no knife needed. Spotted some foil wrap something in the warmer oven. Foil wrap would explain the moistness and soft wet bark. FULL intense smoke flavor. I detected a salt and pepper rub. Overall flavor was very good and no sauce is needed at all. I enjoyed this brisket very much. I can not believe I just wrote that; I hate you Southern Pride.

Ribs: Excellent. These ribs had everything I look for in a awesome 5 star pork rib. Near perfect tenderness, cake soft, clean bone. You do not need teeth to eat these ribs. A great rub that gives it that flavor boost. Full smoke flavor and rosy red interior. No sauce needed at all. My only complaint was they gave me two.

Sausage: Very Good. A pork fine ground sausage with strong traditional spice and nice peppery aftertaste. Very little grease. Could not detect any smoke flavor. No sauce needed at all.

Sauce: Excellent. I was pleasantly surprised with this sauce. I could detect a subtle Tabasco spiciness but not too much. It was a tomato based buttery with
molasses, lemon and Worcestershire flavors. Not needed so don't forget to try it.
Brisket House on Urbanspoon

Cutten BBQ to Go

4/26/13 11:35am - Heading North on Cutten road to County Line, I swerved hard right when I saw this place. This place is a trip. First of all, is it a BBQ joint that fixes cars or a garage that serves BBQ? I thought the parking lot was full until I realized those were broken down junk cars. It only gets better. The whole staff looked like tatted up head bangers and bikers. Black Sabbath was blasting through the air. I started to have flashbacks of Head Bangers Ball back when they had music videos on MTV. These hard rockers are serving up some good 'cue at a great price. For $12 I had enough BBQ for three people.

I scored Cutten Bar-B-Que To Go an 82 out of 100. This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke: "We use Mesquite, Oak, and Hickory" Let me decode that. We use what is cheaper and available when we run out. Two big rusted steel pits bellowing out blue smoke in the back. This my friends is real primal pit BBQ.

Brisket: Very Good. I respectable 5/16in smoke ring. Full smoke flavor and a nice rub. A slight little sweetness that I could not detect but enjoyed very much. Tough of tender hurt the score but flavor was intense. No sauce needed but a knife is.

Ribs: Fair. Hurts me to write that but they were just too tough and that hurt the score. These ribs were full of smokey goodness and a rub that made you smile. Once again intense flavor but too chewy. No sauce needed but a box of toothpicks is recommended.

Sausage: Good. A nice tight packed pork sausage with mild traditional spice flavor and little after taste. The casing was good and smokey. Love the smoke. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Very Good. Finally something a little different. An apple cider vinegar buttery based sauce with lemon flavors. A subtle sweet citrus flavored sauce, one of a kind. It gave everything that extra boost of flavor.

Cutten BBQ on Urbanspoon

Stockyard BBQ

4/24/13 11:48am - I can think of a few places close by, I would drive past to get to Stockyard. I would not drive across town to eat here, but I would drive 15 minutes to eat here. If this your favorite place and its close by, hold your head up cuz this is good 'cue.

I scored Stockyard an 83 out of 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ.

Smoke: Oak and pecan. They proudly display their Olyer wood fired smoker. For urban 'cue, this is about the best you can hope for.

Brisket: Very Good. A very impressive bright red 5/16in smoke ring. Thin black bark. Snap apart tender, no knife needed and moist. Near perfect tenderness. Was disappointed in the mild smoke. Geez, you got the equipment, where's the smoke? No detectable rub. Due to mild smoke and no rub zing, use the sauce.

Ribs: Good. Soft clean bite, clean bone. Very tender but finished a little dry. Nice black bark finish. I could see the rub but could not taste the rub. Again the smoke was too mild. Over flavor was good, but it still needs the sauce.

Sausage: Good. Pork traditional spice sausage. Mild overall flavor and mild after taste. Little smoke. Nothing special, use the sauce.

Sauce: Fair. Thank goodness the cue here is good enough without sauce, cuz this stuff was jazzed up ketchup. Looked like ketchup and tasted like ketchup. Its OK to have ketchup as the base of your recipe, but it should not be 90% of your recipe. I tried their spicy BBQ sauce and its tasted like hot ketchup. Never been
fan of spicy BBQ sauce.

Stockyard Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Thomas Bar-B-Que

4/18/13 11:35 am - Their business card says it all "It's pretty good". At least you know what to expect.

I scored Thomas Bar-B-Q a 69 out 100. This is Bum Steer BBQ. Sausage hurt score.

Smoke: Don't know. Don't matter. Southern Pride gas oven in plain site.

Brisket: Good. Impressive 5/16in smoke ring. Not bad for gas oven. Tough of tender. Mild smoke flavor but at least it had some. No detectable rub. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Good. Tough of tender. Slight tearing and dirty bone. Overall flavor was "pretty good". Good smoke flavor. No detectable rub. Use the sauce.

Sausage: Poor. One word describes this sausage: BOLOGNA. It was pure pork, grease and salt. No spice flavor. No after taste. I was looking for the Oscar Myer label. Sauce could not even save this stuff. Skip all together.

Sauce: Very Good. Just goes to show, a great sauce can cover up a multitude of sins. Overall flavor was pleasant enough that you could spoon it like soup. It was a vinegar tangy, tomato base, Chile powder spice, with lemon flavors. Don't get it on the side, drown the whole plate.

Thomas Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Blazin Bill's BBQ & Firewood

4/17/13 12:00pm - A while back to avoid traffic on the beltway, I took Brittmore. Spotted blue smoke pouring out of this little red BBQ trailer surrounded by hills of firewood.

I scored Blazin Bill's BBQ an 82 out of 100. This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke: Pecan. No guess work here. You practically trip over it to place your order. A steel barrel smoker visible inside trailer leaves not doubt, this is real pit BBQ.

Brisket: Very Good. It reminded me of Gatlins without the rub. 1/4in smoke ring. Fall apart tender and very moist. No knife needed. Foil wrap most likely. Intense smoke flavor always boosts the score. No sauce needed. My sad portion made me sad. I was digging underneath my ribs and sausage to find more, but it was all gone.

Ribs: Fair. Tough of tender, with tearing and dirty bone. Tooth pick necessary. Good smoke flavor and could not detect much or any rub. Lots of room for improvement here. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Good. Pork sausage with traditional spice. A little greasy with mild after taste. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Good. Tomato base, vinegar tangy, with butter and lemon flavors. Overall flavor was good and it does the job.

PS - Its located at 5710 Brittmore, a mile away from the West Little York address. They take credit cards. It has two small picnic tables and very little parking. Get it to go.
Blazin Bill's BBQ & Firewood on Urbanspoon

Lockhart Smokehouse

4/11/13 6:30pm - Was in Dallas for a convention and search Yelp for a good BBQ joint. A fellow meat-head on yelp gave a good review. It was also rated high on the Full Gospel BBQ blog. Good enough for me.

I scored Lockhart Smokehouse an 89 out of 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Barbecue. Borderline Grand Champion, the sausage hurt the score.

Smoke: Hickory. Real wood fired pit BBQ. Behind the counter is a custom made pit with internal fire fire box like an Olyer. Racks looked stationary. They proudly opened the fire box door and I saw the orange hot glowing Hickory.

Brisket: Excellent. Best slice of brisket I have had since Luling. A masterpiece of near perfection. A respectable 5/16in smoke ring with rich black crunchy bark. Snap apart tender, no knife needed. Full intense smoke flavor. I could still smell it on my finger tips the next morning. A nice salt and pepper rub to make you smile. No sauce needed or recommended.

Ribs: Very Good. One very large spare rib. Cake soft tender at the bone and little tearing at the knuckle. Full smoke flavor. A salt, pepper, and sugar rub to give it that extra flavor boost. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Fair. It resembled the fresh loose packed hot sausage in Central Texas but it did not taste like it. It had a strong strange herb flavor like oregano or sage. It was mushy. I did not finish it. So disappointed. If you go rouge on flavor, you have to hit a home run. This was a foul bunt. Use the sauce or skip all together.

Sauce: My first thought is this KC Masterpiece. My second thought is its KC Masterpiece jazzed up. A ketchup, molasses, lemon, with strong coffee flavor. It was a little overpowering so use it sparingly.

PS: the parking and potato salad are both horrific.
Lockhart Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue

4/10/13 - 11:44am REAL BRICK PITS IN HOUSTON! That's the headline for Pizzitola's. Met the owner and they were so kind to walk me back to show me the last brick pits in operation in Houston. An oasis in a pit desert. People drive out of town to get this kind of barbecue.

I scored Pizzitolas an 88 out of 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas Barbecue. Border line Grand Champion. If the ribs had been more tender the score would easily gone over 90.

Smoke: Hickory. Real Brick pits. I spotted the smoke billing out of the stacks and was encouraged. Spotted the brick pits at the counter, and asked if they were still in operation. They proudly told me they are the last ones in Houston. For that alone they should get 5 star status.

Brisket: Excellent. 1/4in smoke ring. Snap apart tender, no knife needed. Rich crunchy black bark. A great black peppery rub that keep you licking your lips. Good smoke flavor, but was It will take a few days before this brisket leaves my memory. No sauce needed.

Ribs: Good. A little tough of Tender with little tearing and slight dirty bone. Great peppery rub, good bark and good smoke flavor. These are really good ribs and no sauce is needed.

Sausage: Very Good. A traditional pork/beef course ground sausage with strong traditional spice and great peppery after taste. Little grease. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Good. Tomato soupy based with strong lemon, butter and vinegar flavors. By itself its OK but it does the job its intended for and gives every bite a nice flavor boost.

The owner was so kind to offer me a sample of chicken, its not part of my score but worth review. It also has a nice peppery rub, good smoke, a little dry.
No sauce needed. I don't consider chicken traditional Texas BBQ but its always good business to have something on the menu for the womenfolk.

Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue on Urbanspoon

Laird's Barbeque & Catering Service

4/4/13 11:15am - Heading home from an unsuccessful turkey hunt, this was my last chance to sample some real pit barbecue before I entered the Pit Desert of Houston. Found this place on my Texas Monthly BBQ app.

I scored Laird's a 82 out of 100. This is Regional Texas Barbecue.

Smoke: Mesquite. They smoke their meats Cowboy style just like Coopers in the same style pits.

Brisket: Good. 1/8in smoke ring provides the clue of high heat. Tested and ate tough of tender. Full smoke flavor. Did not detect a rub but the smoke was enough. Bark was delicious. No sauce needed. The fat cap was nice and smokey.

Ribs: Good. Ate tough of tender. Overall flavor was smokey and they were finish with BBQ sauce glaze. Flavor was really good. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Good. Course ground pork sausage with mild traditional spice and little after taste. Little to no smoke. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Good. First thought, this is tomato soup. It does the job and enhances the flavor of the meat without masking it. It also worked well as the finish on the ribs.

Its hard to rate a joint like this in the shadow of Coopers but something needs to be said without bashing the other. If I lived in Llano, I would get my BBQ on at Lairds and my pork chops, steaks and goat at Coopers
Laird's Barbeque & Catering on Urbanspoon

Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que

4/4/13 6:03pm - Over the years I have always found an excuse to make Cooper's "on the way" to where ever I traveled. Always been a fan, but my friends and I all agree its just not as good as it used to be. Now I can back it up with a score.

I scored Coopers in Llano a 76 out of 100. This is Regional Texas Barbecue. Texas Monthly has recorded its fall from glory too. Top 3 listing in 1997, top 50 in 2003 and 2008. I'm sure the lines that wrap around the building every weekend will keep it in the top 50. Not wise to anger the TM subscribers.

Smoke: Mesquite. Stacks and stacks of the stuff. Pits are big and bold and in plain site. No sissy gas rotisserie stuff here. Coopers smokes their meats "Cowboy" style which means they use direct heat. Briskets are placed directly over the coals much like the ground pits dug over half a century ago. Yuh know, "back in the day" before sissy health inspectors ruined the barbecue business.

Brisket: Good. Barely an 1/8in smoke ring. A good sign these briskets are cooked at a higher heat. "Low and slow" is not a requirement, there are plenty of old timers that cook at high heat, however, the window of opportunity to pull off a tender brisket shrinks with high heat. This brisket was "dry of tender". I have this category but have yet to use it. Brisket was slightly over cooked. Before I could finish, the slices were bone dry. Smoke was intense and I got a burnt end (bonus!). Overall flavor suffered due to the heavy salt rub. I love a good rub but this was too much. The salt was overwhelming. No sauce needed at first but a must after your slices dry out. A cold beer is must with that rub.

Ribs: Good. Nice rub. The rub reminded me of a black peppery jerky rub. Since I like jerky flavor, I like these ribs. Nice smoke. Tough of tender. Flavor is good and no sauce needed.

Sausage: Good. The sausage here just fills the void space on the menu. Nothing special. Its good enough. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Fair. This sauce resembles more of a mop and not a sauce. Mops are awesome for smoking barbecue but not so much for table sauce. Very thin, mostly vinegar, lemon juice, drippings and spice for color and flavor. It did add some life back to the dried out brisket slices.

Would I go back again? Of course its Coopers and its a Texas barbecue legend.
Coopers Bar B Que Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Hungry Farmer Barbeque

3/22/13 - 11:45 - Wow, I have lived in Houston since 1994 and if it weren't for Yelp I would have never heard of this place. Texas Monthly owes a big fat apology to Hungry Farmer. Been in operation since 1975. Even the name is awesome. I knew I was in for something special when the line stretched out the door at 11:30am.

I scored Hungry Farmer a 90 out of 100. This is fo sho Grand Champion Texas BBQ.

Smoke: Had to park in back. First thing i notice are two large well used smoke stacks. Very encouraging. The whole smoke room is sealed up from public view, but as I left they were taking deliveries. I got a peek inside the smokey dungeon. Smoke is hickory and I saw the big black Olyer pits. They keep the hickory stacks inside close to the pits.

Brisket: Excellent. Until today, I have only given that rank to three places in Houston. I was beginning to think there were no others. Very respectable 5/16in big red smoke ring. A rich black crunchy bark. Tested tough of tender but ate oh so tender. Full smoke flavor. No sauce needed at all. I got a burnt end and I fell in Love.

Ribs: Very Good. Big meaty spare ribs. Cake soft tender, fall off the bone. No teeth needed. Overall flavor was OK needing an extra boost from a rub. Looked like grill marks so they may be grilled Memphis style before they are smoked. Good smoke flavor. No sauce needed

Sausage: Very Good. A simple pork beef traditional spice sausage with little after taste. However, there was this extra porky salty bacony yummyness to it that kept me eating more and more of it. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Good. My first thought was this is really bad. It was a bland ketchup based sauce. Not tangy, not sweet, not anything. But wait, sauce is made for meats not to drink. This sauce did the job it was invented for. Inside of masking or hiding the awesome barbecue it gave everything nice little boost in flavor. Get it on the side and dip every bite.

Hungry Farmer BBQ on Urbanspoon

Brookstreet Bar-B-Que

3/19/2013 11:28am - If you live or work in the Westchase district and crave BBQ, this will satisfy. You can get this plate of barbecue anywhere in Houston, so don't drive pass your favorite joint to try this one.

I scored Brookstreet a 76 out 100. This is Regional Texas Barbecue.

Smoke: I have a bigger stack of firewood for my fireplace than they do for BBQ. Its Hickory and the stack is indoors (a first). The Southern Pride rotisseries are right behind the counter. Why hide it. No mystery here. At least you know what your are getting.

Brisket: Good. 1/8in bright red smoke ring. Paper thin black bark. Tender, no knife needed. Just straight beef flavor, no smoke. A very pretty pretty slice of roast beef. Use the sauce. So sad even my burnt end needed sauce.

Ribs: Good. A little tough of tender. They are finished with the sauce and I could detect a rub. Overall flavor was good, no sauce needed but a little more smoke could of helped.

Sausage: Good. Casing was tough which is so annoying. Pork sausage, traditional spice, mild after taste, little greasy. Grocery store quality. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Good. Thin tomato, molasses, vinegar based sauce. It does the job, because everything here needs sauce. Drown it all in the sauce.

PS: After paying $13.95 for three meat plate, I did not appreciate the texas toast added to the weight scale before they wieghed my barbecue.
Brookstreet BBQ on Urbanspoon

Beef and Bun Barbecue

3/14/13 11:57am - With all the rave reviews I was hoping to find some great barbecue. I found typical Houston barbecue.

I scored Beef & Bun 72 out of 100 - This is Texas Barbecue

Smoke: Who knows. No visible stacks and not listed on menus and website. Window graphics say "Real Pit BBQ" I call bunk on that. The big black rotisserie (Olyer?) is in plain site in the kitchen. I did witness some smoke lingering in the air. I could see it but I could not taste it.

Brisket: Good. There was a faint blush of a smoke ring that was 1/4in. No knife needed, snap apart tender, but it was noticeably a little tough It goes down hill from there. Little to no smoke flavor. No rubs or anything. Another sad slice of roast beef. Use sauce and plenty of it.

Ribs: Fair. Tender clean bite and clean bone. Bland flavor. Little to no smoke flavor. Use the sauce. Thank goodness they only gave me one rib.

Sausage: Very Good. By far the best item on the plate. My first thought as I bit into this was BACON! Not sure if they use bacon but it was porky, a little salty and oh so good. Great smoke flavor just like smoked BACON! No sauce needed.

Sauce: Good. Overall flavor was average and since everything here needs sauce it did a little to help enhance the meats. Don't get it on the side, drown everything in the sauce.

PS: The Texas toast was more like tire rubber. My plate lunch came with two slices of ham and turkey. Thank goodness they were free because, they are not worth buying.
Beef & Bun Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Vincek's Smokehouse

3/9/13 - 11:38am - Loaded up the family and headed to East Bernard, Tx to visit a two time Texas Monthly top fifty for 2003 & 2008. An excellent Texas Barbecue excursion.

I scored Vincek's a 82 out of 100. This is Regional Texas Barbecue.

Smoke: Pecan. Smokers hidden from view inside metal buildings in the back. Saw couple of smoke stacks one exhaust vent. Blue smoke was coming out of exhaust vent. Stack of wood was small but may not have been all of it. There are real pits but maybe a rotisserie also.

Brisket: Good. 1/4in smoke ring, nice black bark. Tested and ate tough of tender. There was a great salty rub spice and full smoke flavor. Brisket is worth the drive. Flavor was so intense. No sauce needed.

Ribs: Fair. Wow! what a disappointment. They were tough of tender with slight tearing and stiff. Flavor was just natural pork. Not a lot of smoke. Brisket had more seasoning than ribs. Who woulda thunk it? Use the sauce.

Sausage: Good. It was your average Czech sausage. Fresh, course ground pork with mild traditional spice and little after taste. Little grease. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Excellent! Best surprise of all. This sauce scored very high. A tomato, molasses, vinegar thick and little sweet with lemon flavors. This stuff could make shoe leather taste great. The place is a bakery too, so I dipped the home made bread in this sauce. Heaven! Heaven!

PS: I can understand why Texas Monthly has listed Vinceks two times. This is a little Texas treasure. Decor and service are not part of my score but I when you come across a place like this it must be part of the review. Vincek's is also a local butcher and bakery. We picked up a couple of NY strips, some jerky and a slim jim. That makes this place unique. It is also a local bakery with wonderful looking pecan pies, cookies and of course Kolaches. The place was packed for Saturday and everyone inside knew each other and greeted each other. It was like going to a small town church. If you are looking for day trip excursion, I would highly recommend Vinceks.
Vincek's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Triple J's Smokehouse

3/7/13 12:13 - A guy in line at Burns told me I should try Triple Js. A very good tip. I was near the area around lunch time so I stopped by.

I scored Triple Js an 89 out of 100 - This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas Barbecue. Borderline Grand Champion.

Smoke: Post Oak - I spotted a smoke stack next to the exhaust vent. Website has racks that look like Ferris wheel racks. Wood stack was almost gone. Due to the intense smoke flavor, there is evidence that this is real pit barbecue.

Brisket: Very Good. Snap apart tender. No knife needed. Near perfect tenderness. 1/8 smoke ring with beautiful black bark. Hard to get bark like that with rotisserie. Full smoke flavor. No sauce needed but was a little dry.

Ribs: Excellent. Finally get to sink my teeth into some big huge meaty ribs! Clean bite, soft as cake, clean bone, near perfect tender. Nice crust with subtle rub spices. Good smoke and natural pork flavor. No sauce needed at all.

Sausage: Very Good. Fine ground pork sausage with great spice flavor and mild after taste. I enjoyed this sausage very much. Good smoke. There was some mysterious magic flavor that I could not identify. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Good. A sweet sweet brown sugar flavored thin vinegar tomato red sauce. Nothing here needs sauce but don't skip it or you will miss out on some great flavor.

PS: Ask "Are those pinto beans?" Reply "Yes they are". Turned out to be baked beans which I hate but wow this were really good baked beans. Potato salad was very good also.
Triple J's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Gatlin's Barbecue

3/5/13 11:15 - With all the hype I wanted to see if Gatlin's measured up. Does Houston finally have its claim to fame for excellence in Texas Barbecue? Would Houston finally have its City Market, Kreuz, Smitty's, Louie Mueller's, or even Cooper's or Salt Lick? Its 5 star barbecue, but time will tell if it reaches legendary status.

I scored Gatlin's a 93 out of 100. This is Grand Champion Texas Barbecue

Smoke: Hickory, No visible stacks but I was fortunate to witness six pallets of Hickory delivered. That's alot of wood. Encouraging. The smoking process is hidden from view. I saw a brown tin shed with blue smoke coming out. Encouraging. There is a mysterious white metal building in the back. Suspicious. I did not see any exhaust vents. There is more evidence for real pit than rotisserie.

Brisket: Very Good. The slices i was served from the flat had little to no smoke ring. Disappointing. Full smoke flavor. A hint of rub. A soft wet bark over the fat cap. This was literally fall apart tender. No knife needed but the spoon came in handy. No sauce needed at all. Very very moist. A little too moist if you know what i mean. I suspect briskets are wrapped in foil. I have no issue with that, if that explained the over the top moistness. (4/8 - a comment on a bloggers review witnessed foil wraps) However, I am suspicious about a certain Cajun technique being used on the competition circuit these days. I am a not a rigid purist but if true, that would be disappointing for me. It was not the brisket i was hoping to write rave reviews about.

Ribs: Very Good. A little tough of tender. Good smoke. A nice peppery rub. No sauce needed.

Sausage: Excellent. A Cayenne spicy pork sausage with long lasting after taste. The spice starts out mild and finishes strong. A real treat compared to traditional spice sausage. No sauce needed.

Sauce: Excellent. Bottle it and drink it. A strong vinegar tangyness with subtle lemon flavor. Made everything taste even better. Heck I dipped the bread in the stuff.

PS: The dirty rice is a must.
Gatlin's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Old Hickory Inn Barbeque

2/27/13 11:14am - Maybe their other two locations serve better barbecue.

I scored Old Hickory Inn a 65 out 100. This is Bum Steer barbecue.

Smoke: Hickory. The Southern Pride rotisserie is right behind the counter in its full glory. Why hide it?

Brisket: Good. 1/8in standard rotisserie smoke ring. Snap apart tender. No knife needed. There was a decent smoke aroma and flavor. No rub detected. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Poor. They reminded me of some amateur backyard disaster. You know where you have to lie to your friend on how great his ribs are to protect his ego. They were teeny tiny 3in long ribs. Either baby ribs or they are so cheap they cut the rack in half. They were burnt. They were dry and overdone. Worst I have had in long time. Use the sauce or skip all together.

Sausage: Good. Course ground pork beef with strong traditional spice and long lasting after taste. A little greasy. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Fair. Bring you own. My first thought was this is tomato soup, not barbecue sauce. It ruined an already bad plate of barbecue. Skip all together. Too bad because everything here needs sauce.
Old Hickory Inn Barbecue on Urbanspoon

529 BBQ & Catering

2/22/2013 11:34am - Words can not describe how awesome the ribs are. Wow, I rarely get to eat ribs this good. Great value too, $9.99 for 3 meat plate!

I scored 529 BBQ an 81 out of 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas Barbecue.

Smoke: I spotted a stack of pecan or hickory. On-line menu lists mesquite. Tasted like pecan, so I'll stick with pecan. 1/8in smoke ring and the rotisserie is right behind the counter. Why hide it?

Brisket: Good. Snap apart tender and good smoke flavor. No rub detected. Overall flavor was smoke and beef; there is nothing wrong with that. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Excellent. Soft clean bite and clean bone. Nearly perfect tenderness, soft as cake. You do not need teeth to eat these ribs. A subtle sweetness, subtle spice and good smoke aroma. So glad they gave me three. No sauce needed at all!

Sausage: Fair. Coarse ground pork/beef link with traditional spice and slight aftertaste. Little grease, which I prefer. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Very Good. Bottle it and drink it. A thin vinegar based sauce with good spice and smokiness. No too sweet and served warm. Took flavor to hole-nutha-level. Get it on the side but use it with every bite.