10/31/13 11:48am - After 32 years, was the decision to name the joint Luling City Market brilliant marketing or identity theft? Sadly it seems the latter because nobody talks about the BBQ. It is hard to believe but after three decades, BBQ enthusiasts are still upset about the mere existence of this Houston establishment. With purpose and intent the owners lured a City Market employee back in 1981 to be the pit boss and bring legitimacy to this new upstart. He also brought the mustard based sauce recipe (get a rope!). The rest they say is Texas BBQ history. The name itself seems to be a curse. To this day patrons compare this Houston barbecue to its Luling name sake. That expectation is near impossible.
I scored Luling City Market an 85 out 100. This is Reserve Grand Champion Texas BBQ.
Smoke: Oak. Wood fired barbecue in special designed steel pits. The billowing blue smoke out of the rusted smoke stack is a rare site in Houston. The health inspector must get free lunch for life and free drinks at the bar for life.
Brisket: Very Good. A 1/4in smoke ring beneath a substantial black bark. Slice was near perfect tenderness but dried out way too fast so it was marked down a bit. Full smoke flavor and well rendered fat. The salt and pepper rub gave it a great flavor boost. No sauce needed for the first half then use it after it dries out.
Ribs: Good. Rosy red throughout beneath a nice bark. They were just a little bit overcooked but still very tender, with soft bite and clean bone. Rub was long gone and descent smoke. Use the sauce.
Sausage: Good. A handmade Central Texas style all beef loose packed link. It was mushy beef with garlic and traditional spice flavor. A descent after taste for a central Tx link. However, it was not Central Texas good. I did not finish it. Use the sauce.
Sauce: Excellent. They actually sell the stuff by the bottle and I wish I knew that before I left the place. I have had the original in Luling and other knockoffs around the state but this was the best mustard base sauce I have had. It was bold in mustard flavor and tangy spicy. It worked magic on the brisket and lack luster ribs and sausage. A bottle is on each table and don't worry you will find it halfway through lunch.
PS: Warning: based on reviews from meatheads I trust, this place seems to be "Hit or Miss". I fortunately got a Hit but suffered massive sticker shock: $25 for 3 meat lunch and no left overs! That ain't right. Overall they did a good job bringing that Central Texas BBQ experience to Houston. They just should have come up with a better name. Bet they would like a do over.