Lenox Bar-B-Q


10/25/13 11:55am - When you walk through the front door, you walk straight into the kitchen.  The staff must be used to the startled look on peoples faces, as they smiled and told me its OK and pointed where to place my order.  Lenox is a catering business that serves carry out lunches week days only.  There is no dining area or even a picnic table outside.  But that does not seem to deter the hungry customers.  The parking lot was full of blue collar workers.  Men in safety yellow vests lined up to the catering office to place their order.

If take out is not an option, Lenox now caters and serves lunch a few blocks west at Medel's Ice House located at 3509 Harrisburg Blvd.  I drove my lunch over there, and enjoyed the great weather seated at their outside picnic tables wishing I had a beer but was on the clock.

I scored Lenox an 80 out of 100.  Regional Texas BBQ with 65 years of history.

Smoke:  Oak.  Three big ancient black Olyers occupy a smoke dungeon with 65 year old soot stained ceilings and walls.  A very primal experience for this meathead.

Brisket:  Good (sigh).  A respectable 1/4in pink smoke ring beneath a thin black bark.  Slice tested tough of tender which hurts the score.  Smoke was disappointingly mild.  There was a rub that was long gone in flavor.  Overall flavor was ok, use the sauce.

Ribs:  Very Good.  The spare rib was very tender with soft bite and clean bone.  I marked it down a little because it was just slightly overcooked but only a meathead could notice.  The overall flavor was great.  A slight sweetness from maybe the reduction of BBQ sauce slathered over it before it cooked.   No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Good.  Well the benefit of walking into the kitchen to place your order is there are no secrets.  Lenox serves Eckrich sausage.  HA!  I prefer handmade sausage but I don't throw stones at "grocery store" sausage.  I love to sample all different kinds.  There is nothing wrong with Eckrich, I grew up eating the stuff. Lenox however slices it up before it smokes it.  So there was good smoke flavor on this grocery store classic.  Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Good.  A thick thick mildly tangy sweet sauce with black pepper, molasses, butter and lemon flavors.  It clings and coats every bite and added a good flavor boost.  It does the job.

History: Back in the day (1949 - 1967), one of the largest caterers in the state was Leonard O'Neill. He acquired Lenox Barbecue in payment for a gambling debt.  O'Neill was a machinist by trade.  When the orders surpassed the capacity of the brick smokers, O'Neill converted a Rainbow Bread rotisserie oven into a wood fired BBQ pit.  In 1968 Hubert Olyer from Mesquite, Tx patented the same type oven (thief?) and revolutionized Texas BBQ forever.  In 1980 J&R Manufacturing bought the patent rights and began manufacturing Olyers in Mesquite Texas. The Olyer Pit uses only wood as its heat source. Temperature is maintained by automatic dampeners and fans that circulate air. Levi Goode, Pappas and Rudy's owe their success either to Hubert Olyer's theft or O'Neill's innovation.
Lenox Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Hinze's Bar-B-Que


10/19/13 10:59am - On my way to Eagle Lake, I thought why not swing through Wharton and try an old 1997 Top 50 joint.  If you have ever driven out of Houston down Hwy 59 you mostly drove past this joint thinking "I wonder if its any good; I should stop sometime".  Its worth one stop and lunch on the way to your South Texas destination.

I scored Hinze's Bar-B-Que a 74 out of 100.  This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke:  Pecan.  One of the saddest things is to see an old smokehouse retrofitted for a gasser.  Yes behind the stacks of pecan are two commercial gassers.  I hate to admit it, but gassers save a lot of family businesses.  Its hard to pass down passion to the next generation or investment buyer.  The low cost of push button efficiency is a smart business decision, saves jobs and saves restaurants.

Brisket: Good.  A gasser 1/8in smoke ring beneath paper thin bark (is it really bark if its only paper thin?).  Tested tough of tender but was surprising moist.  Good smoke flavor.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Fair.  Not a good gasser product.  A St Lious cut spare rib, tough of tender with noticeable tearing and dirty bone. It had a mild black pepper rub, thin bark and smoke ring.  Use the sauce and a toothpick.

Sausage:  Good.  A course ground pork/beef country link.  Good traditiaonal spice and mild black peppery after taste.  Casing was snappy.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Very Good.  A thick tomato tangy semi sweet sauce with onions.  Had citrus or cider vinegar flavors, brown sugar.  A little different but good.  Gave everthing a nice flavor boost.

PS:  Inside decor is worth a lunch stop.  Interesting taxidermy and folksy antiques. They expanded the restaurant around a living tree.


Hinze Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Austin's BBQ & Catering

10/19/13 12:48pm - Is there legendary Texas Barbeque close to Houston?  Let me tell you about Austin's.  Did you know only 60 miles from Houston is a joint that has made Texas Monthly top 50 for the last four issues since 1997?  That puts Austin's in the same stratosphere as Louie Mueller, City Market, and Cooper's.  For over 16 years this joint has been quietly producing top 50 quality Texas BBQ.  EPIC!

I scored Austin's a 91 out of 100.  Legendary Grand Champion Texas BBQ (and so close to Houston)

Smoke:  Pecan.  They roll out the two big steel smoke monsters every Thursday through Sunday right out of the former gas station garage doors.  The pecan smoke aroma reaches all the way to heaven.  God must love Texas BBQ.

Brisket:  Very Good.  An off the chart 3/8in smoke ring beneath a thin bark. Tested tough of tender but ate so tender. The pecan smokey goodness penetrated every bite.  A great peppery rub with semi rendered fat sent this slice of brisket to flavor hall of fame.  Pecan is by far my most favorite smoke flavor.  When done right it is like nothing you have ever experienced.  You will think about this slice for days.  No sauce needed at all.

Ribs:  Excellent.  Perfect tenderness, soft bite, clean bone.  No teeth needed for these ribs.  Pecan smokey goodness with a black peppery rub made every porky salty bite better than the last. No sauce needed at all.

Sausage:  Very Good.  A handmade course ground pork/beef sausage with traditional spice and bold black pepper flavor.  A nice peppery after taste. Little to no grease and snappy casing.  Very enjoyable and fresh link.  No sauce needed at all.

Austin's BBQ & Catering on Urbanspoon

Sauce:  Good.  This joint is notorious for smothering their great barbeque with their average OK sauce.  Get the sauce on the side.  Its a thin tangy tomato sauce and not much more.

PS:  There is no indoor dining area.  You walk in only to place your order. There are few picnic tables under cover outside.  Get it to go or go during the cooler months.


Goode Co. Texas Bar-B-Q

10/17/13 11:29am - WARNING! "Get sauce on the side!!!". This warning should be displayed as you order your mesquite wood fired BBQ and then watch them ruin it by pouring their strange sauce over the top. This location is the original joint that received Texas Monthly Top 50 ranking in 1997 & 2003 and was the pride of Houston for many years. One can conclude that the quality of Texas BBQ has been elevated statewide over the last decade because it is doubtful this BBQ tasted any different than it did 10 - 16 years ago. Elevate your craft or get left behind. It is no longer top 50 quality anymore.

I scored Goode Co. a 84 out of 100. Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ

Smoke: Mesquite. A well used black Olyer wood fire pit in plain site with snow shovel next to fire box.


Brisket: Good. An impressive 5/16in smoke ring beneath a paper thin bark. Snap apart tenderness, no knife needed. Good smoke flavor in each bite but finished a little dry. Use the sauce.

Ribs: Good. A straight forward St Louis cut spare rib. A little tearing but clean bone tender rib. Good smoke and pork flavor. A faint rub added little flavor. Use the sauce.

Sausage: Good. A typical course ground beef/pork sausage rib with mild traditional spice flavor and even milder after taste. Use the sauce.

Sauce: Good. I was pleasantly surprised. This sauce was not as bitter as it has been in the past. It was a tangy tomato soupy sauce with drippings and bits. This time it had a subtle sweetness I have never noticed. I wonder if this sauce can easily burn and that explains why it mostly comes off as bitter and burnt. It is definitely a hit or miss sauce so GET IT ON THE SIDE!

Goode Company Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Fainmous BBQ

10/10/13 12:10pm - Another Southern Pride shocker.  Anuther bruther doin it right. Really good BBQ for a gasser.  Strip center BBQ joint = gasser BBQ

I scored Fainmous a 84 out of 100.  Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ

Smoke:  Hickory.  The gasser is in plain site.  Why hide it.

Brisket:  Good.  If it had a smoke ring it would have been rated Very Good.  No smoke ring. Nada. Nothin'.  Thin bark.  Snap apart tender no knife needed and very moist.  Fat rendered well and full of smoke.  Good smoke flavor in every bite. No sauce needed.  Cant believe its a gasser.

Ribs:  Very Good.  Spare ribs with the tips served separate (I love that).  Near cake soft perfect tender with clean bone. A rub was noticeable.  Good smoke flavor.  No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Excellent.  A course ground semi loose packed pork sausage with bold traditional spice and great herb flavors.  A log lasting after taste.  Casing a little tough.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Very Good.  Nothing here needs sauce so do not forget to use it.  A fresh tangy tomato vinegar based sauce with citrus, onion and a subtle cinnamon flavors.  Worked will with meats and gave every bite a flavor boost.

PS: Portions were insane.  Leftovers made two lunches!

Fainmous BBQ on Urbanspoon

Black's Barbecue

9/6/13 & 9/29/13 - On our way to Uvalde for dove hunting Rick & I, decided to take a BBQ detour.  I was shocked when my research revealed that Black's has only made Texas Monthly Top 50 twice: 1997 and 2013.  Heck it didn't even get "honorable mention" in 2003 or 2008.  Who would have thunk it?  I had never set foot in Lockhart until this year.  Its hard to imagine there was ever a time this joint was not top 50 quality.  The same family has been smoking since 1932.

I scored Black's a 92 out of 100.  This is Grand Champion Texas BBQ and I don't care what TM thinks.

Smoke:  Oak.  Real brick pits built in the late 1940's after WWII by Edgar Black Sr.  There is a wooden screen door in the pit room that lines up with the fire box.  It has remained open 24/7, rain or shine since then because it provides the only draft for the fire.  It is truly is a sanctuary of smoke.  According to TM there is a Southern Pride hidden somewhere.  The 2013 edition mentions the briskets spend their first 8 hrs in the gasser and their last 4 hrs in the pit.  Blasphemy!

Brisket:  Excellent.  A masterpiece of perfection.  A 1/4in smoke ring beneath a thick black bark.  Perfect no fork needed fall apart tenderness.  The slice was thick and  succulent. Full smoke flavor infused into every bite.  From the first to the last bite, moist and silky. No sauce needed at all.

Ribs: Good.  A little disappointed in the ribs.  I was expecting so much more.  These ribs are just OK.  Nothing to rave about.  Tough of tender with a little tearing of the bark but clean bone. No noticeable rub.  Smoke and pork are the only flavor.  Use the sauce.

Sausage:  Very Good.  Fresh hand made Central Texas link.  Loose packed beef sausage with simple garlic and smoke flavor.  No bold flavor but very fresh.  No after taste and the casing was a little tough.  No sauce needed.

Sauce:  Very Good.  A classic Kansas City style thick tangy semi sweet sauce.  It is bold in flavor and gives every bite a little snap.  Be careful, the BBQ is so good you might forget to use it.

Not part of score but worth the write up:
Beef Rib:  Excellent.  Fred Flinstone would be proud with this 1 1/2 lb hunk of beef on a bone.  Tender, succulant, big smoke ring, moist, silky bold beef flavor.  Its so much better than brisket!  Beef Ribs like this, take Texas BBQ to a whole other level.  Its hard to argue Texas serves the best BBQ in the America but Beef Ribs makes Texas BBQ the best in the Galaxy.  No sauce needed.  Others joints around Texas are adding Beef Ribs to their menu.  I hope it spreads like wild fire.
Black's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Fuschak's BBQ

9/29/13 11:38am - Heading back from the deer lease to Houston, I wanted to swing through Lockhart for lunch.  My daughter insisted on Chick-fil-a and pointed out everyone on the way.  The last one she pointed out we near Fuschak's.  It got Honorable Mention in Texas Monthly 2008 and has been in business since 1966.

I scored Fuschak's a 78 out of 100.  This is Regional Texas BBQ.

Smoke:  Witness stacks of oak.  Previous reviews mention both oak and mesquite.  There is a screened in smoke house in the back.  Unfortunately its full of Ole Hickory gassers.

Brisket:  Good.  A 1/4in dark red smoke ring beneath a substantial black bark.  Thin sliced with just the right amount of smoke.  Tough of tender and finished a little dry.  Overall flavor was pleasant with slight salty rub.  use the sauce because of the dryness.

Ribs:  Very Good.  Big meaty spare ribs.  Tender soft bite with slight dirty bone.  A great black pepper rub and strong salty pork flavor.  No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Fair.  A grease bomb.  A course ground pork link with traditional spice and strong salt.  Mild after taste.  Use the sauce and plenty of napkins to clean up the grease explosion.

Sauce:  Good.  A bit strange. It was thick dark brown and sweet.  Had strong butter, onion, brown sugar and molasses flavor.  It was clumpy and sticky.  Not a signature sauce.

PS:  Portions are insane!  Four sides with my 3 meat plate!  I packed a serious to go box.
Fuschak's Pit Bar-B.Q. on Urbanspoon

Hickory Hollow Restaurant

9/4/13 11:03am - I am convinced that all you need to run a successful BBQ business in Houston is a Southern Pride gas oven and a good sauce to cover up your average barbeque.  You do not have to drive far in this town to sample this mediocre BBQ.

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

Smoke:  Hickory.  Southern Pride gasser.

Brisket:  Good (yawn).  1/8in standard gasser smoke ring.  Paper thin bark.  Pull apart tender.  Little smoke.  Little flavor.  Use the sauce.

Ribs:  Very Good.  A large meaty spare rib.  Near perfect tenderness.  Nice rub.  Strong pork and salty flavor and smoke flavor.  Not bad for a gasser.  No sauce needed.

Sausage:  Good.  A fine ground pork sausage with bacon and salt flavor.  Little spice or aftertaste.  Casing was a little tough.  Use the sauce.

Sauce:  Very Good.  A tangy tomato vinegar thick sauce with lemon flavors.  Not too sweet.  A perfect sauce to cover up some mediocre 'que.  Don't get it on the side, drown the whole plate in it.

Hickory Hollow on Urbanspoon