Brooks’ Place BBQ
18020 FM 529 Cypress, TX 77433
Chain Size: 1
Date reviewed 5-17-2013
Service Type: Window
Overall rating 90: Brisket 91, Sausage 93, Ribs 86
I had a plan, I really did. Three friends and I would converge from three different locations in four different vehicles and we would enjoy a lunch at one of the best BBQ joint in the Houston area. Logistically it didn’t seem that complex. Brandon and I would leave work around 12:30, he in his car and I riding the BMW. Ralph, another coworker but working from home due to unforeseen brother in law issues, would be heading up from the Katy area. Derek, a former boss, former race team member, and friend who rides a BMW K1300S would be making a short trek of about 5 miles. The destination was Brooks’ Place BBQ, a recent inductee into the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ Joint list which was last updated in 2008.
I checked Brooks’ ratings on Yelp the evening before and was surprised to see 9 ratings, all at 5 stars. They’ve only been around since 2009, and in their current location since September of 2010 but they have been quietly establishing a strong reputation since then. It sounded like we were in for a treat.
While I had planned the event I also was on a quest for something. That something was the Pocket Chair. Go look, I’ll wait.
We were planning a trip to Franklin’s on Saturday and I wanted something we could use as a folding chair but also something that we could pack easily on the motorcycle. The lines at Franklin’s are some of the longest, with mentions of 2 hours, and the publicity from Texas Monthly’s top BBQ award will only fuel the insanity. I didn’t have a rear luggage rack so there was not an easy means to strap regular sized chairs on the back. A little internet research showed that Big Lots had the Pocket Chair on clearance for $3. Ratings for them really weren’t all that good but they just seemed like they would fit my needs perfectly. Even if they weren’t durable, at $3 that would still work even if they only held up a couple of times. So began the quest.
Our nearest location had a single one on display but no box or other material and they would not sell it to me. On the day of our planned Journey to Brooks’ Place, I had lined up a detour to stop by another Big Lots location. At 12:30 when we were supposed to roll I was still copying some files and had to push back another 10 minutes. Brandon followed me in his car and we began our diversion. There was a little more traffic than expected and when we made it to Big Lots I already had notice that Ralph and Derek were waiting for us at Brooks’. We scoured the store but there was no sign of the chairs so we rolled out and down a far too busy FM1960.
We arrived at Brooks’ a little after 1:30 but Ralph didn’t want to wait in the open-air so he had scouted out the nearest bar. Brooks’ is a trailer in a strip center parking lot and the dining area is a single picnic table with a large umbrella. No points taken off for lack of indoor dining but now I can tell you about my second predicament of the day. I don’t have a summer riding jacket. I will soon. I had worn my insulated and thick leather jacket and the temperature hit 91 degrees. When I peeled that sucker off, it looked like I had been swimming. The good news was there was only one other order in front of us so we placed our order at about 1:45. Word was already beginning to spread though – Derek saw Channel 2 news there while waiting for us and there was a congratulations sign from the Houston Chronicle posted up on the front of the building.
Ralph had gotten approval for us to bring the food to the bar so I ordered for the four of us and he showed up to cart the goodies back. Prices here were a tad higher than expected, with $15.99 for the traditional three meat plate but a more reasonable $12.99 for the two meat option. We got one brisket and sausage and for the rest we chose brisket, sausage, and ribs. After a few minutes our bounty was ready. Taking a peek at the meat I saw a nice range of colors, from black on the brisket crust, to a nice well defined smoke ring, to the brown meat. This was no ashy-grey roast beef, this was well cooked. I took a quick look at the smoker before heading out. It was appropriately sized for the building and the volume of traffic but if business picks up it may be harder for them to keep up.
We didn’t open the containers until we arrived over at the bar, but it was far too dark to really get a sense of the meal so I carted mine back outside. The meat looked a little dry. Instantly I thought back to the fact that we arrived post-lunch and blamed my poor planning on this. The colors of the meat were spot-on and I think this was probably a level or two better at lunchtime. The bark was good, with solid hits of salt and pepper. A nice smoky flavor was present but indeed it wasn’t as moist as hoped. One of my final pieces though was fattier and cooked to perfection, with the fat fully rendered and juice nearly dripping onto the plate.
The sausage was a pleasant surprise, with a nice course grind. Unfortunately though it was cut into quarter-inch thick slices on a bias. This meant that you couldn’t enjoy the snap because the meat would get pushed out of its binding. When it did snap it was great and next time I’ll be sure to ask for it unsliced. It could easily bump the sausage up a notch in rating. There was a hint of spiciness in the sausage but not overwhelming.
The ribs were lackluster. Out of the two on my plate, one had a bit better flavor on the outside and they weren’t terrible but they just didn’t match up to the quality brisket and sausage.
The sauce was good. It was very thick and had plenty of twang with a bit of sweetness. The thickness of the sauce reminded me of thinned out honey. I didn’t need sauce for any of the meats but dipped a few small pieces in. Served on the side like a good joint, it’s worth a try.
The potato salad was my least favorite. Flavors of the potato itself were the strongest and it was very bland. I don’t take away points for sides though because it’s all about the meat so I won’t knock them but I would recommend trying a different option.
The baked beans were close to great but fell short with too much spice added in. A thick sauce that had hints of cinnamon also had hints of what we thought to be cayenne. It was hot enough for Derek to need a plain slice of bread to cut the heat down. Some folks may like them this spicy and I am sure some will like them this way; I think it took away rather than added to the overall flavor. I always try the meats before the sides so that I can taste both unadulterated and mixed flavors so I didn’t notice the heat until towards the end of my meal. Cut down the heat a notch and these will be high on my list. Fargo’s had better and still reigns the supreme baked bean side, but these weren’t far off.
I think that is really the gist of my review for Brooks’ Place BBQ – very close to a great experience and enjoyable but not elite quality, yet. I think they have a ton of potential and I will return between 11am and noon on another day for a second try. It’s nice to have such a prospect this close to me.
I also want to take a moment to say that BBQ should not be eaten alone. It is enjoyed the most with family and friends. If you head out of the road in search of treasure – don’t do it alone.
The trip back home was also far too hot for me. Originally I had wanted to follow FM529 out to Belleville, and either over to Chappell Hill or Hempstead where I’ve ridden before on some nice roads, eventually working my way back home but I would have to save that for another time.
I followed Derek on a much shorter route homeward and he knew some great back roads; Jackrabbit Rd up to Hwy 6 and then cutting over to Huffmeister. We rode together a bit more following Huffmeister then he turned at Kluge while I continued on up to Telge. Even with traffic on Friday at 4pm, I was able to enjoy good speed on Telge and pass by grazing cows on my way up to FM2920 and towards my house. What I didn’t enjoy though was my jacket. I learned something on that day: Regardless of how fast you ride in 90+ degree weather, you will be hot and sweaty in a winter leather jacket. The sweat continued to drip into and out of my eyes as I rode and I grumbled about my own stupidity throughout the night. Perforated leather, vented leather, and textile jackets are available at the nearest bike shops and I will be shopping at one soon.