In September of 2015 I published my first article on the Rise of Houston Barbecue (http://texasbbqtreasurehunt.com/the-rise-of-houston-barbecue/)
In October of 2015 the excellent Tejas Chocolate Craftory opened, with bean to bar chocolate and quality smoked barbecue.
— Bryan (@BBQBryan) April 22, 2016
Since then there were a few delayed openings, but there is a new round of openings this spring along with those expected in 2015 that are newsworthy. Houston barbecue continues its expansion throughout 2016 at full force.
Many of the openings have been focused in the midtown and downtown areas which will likely see a huge boost when Houston hosts the Superbowl in February of 2017 but the openings don’t stop there, with the suburbs also enjoying the fruits of the movement. While I live in the Houston area and have some bias the feeling is strong that the barbecue spotlight is being tugged towards Houston with a number of high quality establishments recently coming on the scene. While Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas openings are less visible to me I don’t see the expansion like Houston is receiving and while Austin is rife with food trailers, most of the openings in Houston have been in full service brick and mortar locations.
A slew of barbecue joints opened in late 2015 but there is another round that have or will open by mid-2016 in the Houston area. Most are located inside the 610 loop in the Heights, midtown, and downtown area which brings Houston closer to having a concentration of barbecue not unlike East Austin although a little more distance separates them than in Austin where one can walk or cycle easily to multiple locations.
Midtown BBQ, El Burro and the Bull, Pinkerton’s Barbecue, and The Pit Room will join Jackson Street BBQ and Pappa Charlies Barbeque along with stalwarts such as Pappas and 2015 newcomer Republic Smokehouse and Saloon.
If you are not familiar with the Houston layout, midtown is just west of downtown and the Heights is just north and to the west, inside of the 610 loop which is the innermost loop in the city.
North Houston which was mostly ignored just a few years ago receives the third location of The Brisket House, joining SouthernQ, Corkscrew BBQ, BBQ Godfather, and my personal go-to of Tejas Chocolate Craftory for quality options.
Bender’s BBQ is a new food truck stopping in various locations that looks promising although I’ve only had one visit. They’ve recently switched to Prime brisket, which should improve their product even more.
Good brisket sandwich from Bender’s BBQ and burgers, nice that they showed up to the track! pic.twitter.com/sh5ZGtipLf
— Bryan (@BBQBryan) March 20, 2016
Richmond will see the opening of Harlem Rd BBQ headed by classically trained chef Ara Malekian who uses the unique option of retired oak wine barrels for flavor rather than the more traditional oak. Harlem Road BBQ has held popup events at Savory Spice but will settle into their permanent location at 9823 Harlem Road.
In just a few months it will be possible to spend an entire week in Houston traveling to quality barbecue establishments multiple times daily, or to put together a weekend and more of incredible barbecue.
You can also catch many of these and more at the Houston BBQ festival. www.houbbq.com . It’s the best way to sample the great barbecue available in the area.
If you haven’t been paying attention, it’s time to wake up and smell the brisket in Houston.
Just to the west of Houston in the city of Brenham there has also been a bit of a barbecue renaissance. Truth BBQ opened in late 2015 quietly serving up a great menu. They were joined in late November of 2015 by LJ’s BBQ and although I haven’t had a chance to visit, the photos at least look great.
You can catch my review of Truth here: http://texasbbqtreasurehunt.com/truth-bbq/
Here is a rundown of the openings since my last Rise of Houston Barbecue article:
October Tejas Chocolate Craftory
November Truth BBQ
November LJ’s BBQ
February Benders BBQ and Burgers
April El Burro and the Bull
April Midtown BBQ
April The Brisket House north
If I’ve missed one, please contact me on Twitter and let me know.
Missing from this list is Louie Mueller Barbecue. Wayne Mueller teased the Houston area in 2014 with an announcement that he was looking to open and rumors swirled regarding a location.
— Louie Mueller BBQ (@LouieMuellerBBQ) October 22, 2014
Trouble with finding a solid investor altered the plans, as reported by Eric Sandler.
While a Houston presence does appear to still be desirable (Wayne lived in Houston before returning to Taylor to head up Louie Mueller) the barbecue landscape here has changed significantly since his original plans so only time will tell if it ever comes to fruition.
It’s going to be a busy 2016!