NEVER BEEN TO TEXAS
My daughter has been in Texas for a month and we are do to visit her in June. She is in a small town South West of Houston. She is in Needville, but we are willing to travel for the real deal. I would love to try some real BBQ, without artifical smoke flavoring added to the sauce (as they do here in Calif. so often). Having never been to the area, I would greatly appreciate a few recomendations. Thank You!!!
You won't have any trouble finding real BBQ anywhere in the Hoston area! Pappas BBQ is only but a well known one.
The best places to go for bbq in Texas are in Luling and Lockhart but they are about a 2 and a half hour drive from Needville both ways. Willing to travel that far? Plan to go for lunch, by the way, only 2 of the places in Lockhart are open after 6pm, Black's and Kreutz. City Market in Luling closes at 5 I think.
If you're not willing to travel that far Hinze's in Wharton, just down US 59 from Rosenberg, is good pecan smoked bbq. Novosad's in Hallettsville, about half way to Luling, is also very good.
I would avoid Pappas; it's a chain and only so-so. There's a place just east of Richmond on US 90A, Galvan's, which has been mentioned recently here on CH. I've been once recently and liked the brisket.
The best places in Houston are on the north side, about an hour and a half from Needville, Pierson's and Burn's. Both use liquid smoke in their sauce but you can get it on the side (recommended) and ignore it. In fact most Texas BBQ places will put the sauce on the side and that's the preferred way to get it.
Oh yes, one other I've heard of but haven't been to, Swinging Door, north of Richmond.
Here's a thread I did elsewhere on Midway in Katy, Burn's, Pierson's and Galvan's, with pictures:
I've also been to Luling City Mkt in Houston, same name but not connected to the famous City Market in Luling. I've had some pretty good cue there in the past but my most recent visit was really lame.
You can find much more about any of the Luling and Lockhart places on this board and more about most of the Houston places too. I should say I'm from the CTx area, not far from Hallettsville/Schulenburg, and have been to all of those often in the past, including Novosad's and Hinze's, but haven't been to any of them in a couple of years.
Hinze's, Swinging Door, Galvan's and Midway all use pecan wood, very common around here. The CTx places all use oak, which I like better.
I would VERY STRONGLY suggest that you just make a day trip of it and do a partial BBQ circuit. Start early (these places are meat markets, not full-service restaurants and they're often sold out of the best meats by early afternoon), and hit Luling City Market, then Lockhart for Smitty's, Black's and Kreuz. If you've got time, swing through Giddings for their City Market, and Hunstville for the Mt. Zion New Missionary Baptist Church and BBQ on your way back to Houston. Get brisket "wet" or "off the high side," ribs and sausage. Get just a small portion, really a sample, at each place, and skip the sides.
I just moved to Houston from Central Texas and haven't found any place here yet that has brisket that comes even close, and I mean not even CLOSE, to the Central Texas BBQ temples. It's one thing if you live in Houston and you're downgrading your preferred BBQ joints because you've got a second-rate one nearby and you don't feel like driving to Huntsville or Llano or Taylor or Giddings or Luling or Lockhart on a Tuesday night to eat some 'cue.
But you're coming from a long way off. You don't need to eat bad to mediocre BBQ at Pappas or Goode Co. Make a fun day of it and try the absolute best that Texas has to offer.
But please, if you can't do that, and you settle for something mediocre in Houston, don't believe for one single moment that what you've had is representative of the best of "real Texas BBQ."
Because it sure isn't.
We did a short list - City Market in Luling and Smitty's in Lockhart. It was a fun time. There is a farmer's market across from City Market and the foot traffic on the street was high. We met some fantastic folks from all over the country that were there just for the BBQ. For only a few of them, it was their first experience with Central Texas BBQ. A lot of folks travel a lot of distance to experience this stuff and it is worth it... for us it would be, anyway.
If you want something close, I would try Galvan's, I drive 40 miles round trip to go there frequently.