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Mar 16, 2011 07:57 AM

Smoked Chicken

Maybe you can help.

There used to be a small chain, (2 or 3 locations only), called The Great Charcoal Chicken. The two locations that we frequented were on I-10 at Campbell in the same center where Ciro's was, and on Highway 6 one block north of I-10.

The smoked chicken was great. Smokey, juicy and I usually had mine with a jalapeno mustard sauce that was dynamite.

Freeway construction killed both of those locations and the third died years earlier.

The smoked chicken at Pierson's is pretty good, but only available a couple of days a week. If you like chicken, I heartily recommend ordering some the next time you go over there on a Friday or Saturday.

Snow's in Lexington makes a great smoked chicken and is my Mom's favorite from there. She is from Lex so she knows all about it, I promise.

So Houston Chowhounds, where can I find a sit-down great-smoked-chicken a la Great Charcoal Chicken/Pierson's/Snow's?

I know all about the roasted chicken you can get on any corner now. I'm looking for a great smoked chicken.

Can you help me out?

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  1. Baker's Ribs on Voss (and a mere three blocks from my office) is now offering smoked half chicken.

    I'll let you know if it's worth the trip.

    Baker's Ribs
    2223 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057

    1. So I decided to do a little investigating on my own this weekend. As noted above, I had noticed that Baker's Ribs on Voss had been advertising whole chickens on their signboard lately so I ducked in Friday for a quick lunch. Until recently, if you wanted chicken you would get a butterflied breast.

      I've eaten at Baker's many, many times. It is the sole Houston outpost of a small Dallas based chain. It was opened.. gosh, maybe 17 years ago or so by the son of the family. Tragic story there. Good ribs, but...

      The chicken isn't really smokey enough for what I'm looking for. It was almost more of a roasted chicken. I've never cared for their sauce. It is very thick and sweet, but since I subscribe to the "Good meat don't need no sauce" paradigm anyway, no harm/no foul as far as I'm concerned. Still love their ribs.

      On Sunday I decided to go back and try a place at which we used to eat fairly frequently but had quit visiting for ethical reasons. The Houston Barbecue Company is on Eldridge between Briar Forest and Memorial.

      Anyway, I picked up a half smoked chicken and a couple of ribs. I had the chick packed to go but sat down to Chow down on the ribs. Baker's are better. I like the sauce here better though. It's more of the thinner vinegar based sauce I grew up with in Lex, but I still didn't use any. (See above.)

      The chicken is smokey and outside of Pierson's, the best I can get easily and locally.

      So far.

      Ate a little of it but most went into chicken salad. (I make an awesome smoked chicken salad.)

      I'm still looking for recc's though so y'all quit holding out on us.

      Houston Barbecue Company
      1127 Eldridge Pkwy Ste 400, Houston, TX 77077

      Baker's Ribs
      2223 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057

      10 Replies
      1. re: DoobieWah

        Here's a Baker's Ribs "chicken" story of sorts. We went on a Saturday afternoon once and there couldn't have been six people in there, my wife and staff included. A couple of thuggish youngsters walked in, one stayed by the door, and the other stood in the middle of the room for a minute or so. You could feel the tension in the air, a robbery was about to happen. Finally the one in the middle approached the counter, and ordered a sandwich while the other stood by the door. He got a sandwich and left. I think he "chickened" out. I've always like the ribs there, by the way, and the peanuts.

        Baker's Ribs
        2223 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057

        1. re: James Cristinian

          If Bruce was at the counter, I don't think I would have tried it either!

        2. re: DoobieWah

          I went to Houston BBQ once, and recall it was okay (I got the chopped beef), but that I didn't like the chilled sauce on the tables. Curious as to what ethical boundries they crossed? Or maybe you just had a vegetarian with you?

          Regarding your original post here on the I-10 @ Hwy 6 location, I note that chicken place was near Brother's Pizzeria and wondered if you've ever been there? I've heard it's good. When the pizza calls, we usually answer at Russo's on I-10.

          Brother's Pizzeria
          1029 Highway 6 N Ste 100, Houston, TX 77079

          1. re: Lambowner

            I'm guessing the "ethical boundary" issue might be the fact that it's owned by the same family as Luling City Market on Richmond.

            (And I too would be interested in hearing about Brother's Pizzeria - I'll be staying at a hotel a mile away on my next visit to Houston).

            Brother's Pizzeria
            1029 Highway 6 N Ste 100, Houston, TX 77079

            1. re: FarleyFlavors

              Sorry for the delay.

              Second question first - No, I've never been to Brother's. I very, very, very rarely eat pizza out since I discovered what great pizza crusts Phoenicia's fresh pita breads make. They keep great in the freezer, too.

              Re: Houston BBQ Co.

              As I understand it, the owners were managers at Luling City for a decade or so. Worker bees who eventually took their experience, BUT NOT THE NAME, of their former employer. I can forgive them for being "in cahoots" for that long. It was a job, and obviously good enough of a job to allow them to go their own way. Good for them.

              My issues were more immediate and practical.

              We used to go there fairly frequently. I have had some damned fine brisket there, but it is wildly inconsistent due to having to hold it. Here's the thing, they sell it by the lb, 1/2 lb, and 1/3 lb. I would usually order 1/3 lb of beef with which to make a couple of foldovers, and add a couple of ribs, or a sausage, etc.

              And there was an asst. manager who was usually doing the cutting in the evenings when we were there and he would almost always throw it on the scale at somewhere between .4 and .5 lbs and, smile real big and say, "It's a little over, is that OK?". And of course, usually you say "Yes" and move on down the line.

              We had already noticed and talked about this but ... whatever.

              So one day it's fairly busy and I heard him say to five people in a row, "It's a little over, is that OK?". So when it's my turn, I say "I want 1/3 lb, not .4, not a half, but a third."

              Guess what? BOOM! .333 lbs.

              My buddy in line behind me says, "Me too. A third. Not a half.".

              BOOM! .333 lbs.

              The guy was just upselling. With prejudice. Probably got a bonus based on sales during his shift. He knew what he was doing.

              I didn't like that, and we didn't go back for five years. I've been back three or four times in the last six months, (prefer Pierson's anyway, but Houston BBQ Co. is a much quicker fix), and I've never seen that guy again. I suppose he's selling speakers out of the back of a white van somewhere.

              I value honesty above all else. Honesty will go a long way toward making up for inconsistent brisket. For now, when I get a spur of the moment yen for a rib or a foldover, I'll head over there. But if I ever see that asst. manager in there again, we're through.

              Too petty?

              1. re: DoobieWah

                I've heard Rudy's sells good smoked chicken. And turkey, too. Have you tried them?

                1. re: Jaymes

                  I tried Rudy's on 290 once. It was OK, but I didn't try the chicken. Thanks for the reminder.

                2. re: DoobieWah

                  We all have our pet peeves and no, as long as it's your money, it's not petty. If it were free then it would be petty.

                  So has anyone figured out what is going on at Pierson's and a good phone number for them? I would like to go one day but dang if I'm driving all that way to find them closed. I guess I could always pop in at Barbecue Inn if Pierson's is closed.

                  Barbecue Inn
                  116 W Crosstimbers St, Houston, TX 77018

                  1. re: texasredtop

                    When this question came up a couple of weeks ago I called their number 713. 683.6997, I got a fax machine. That really didn't tell me anything. But last weekend I called again and talked to Ms. Vanessa and she assured me they are open.

                    Seemed fairly definitive.

                    1. re: DoobieWah

                      Thanks DW, appreciate the phone number and info.

          2. I have always been partial to The County Line on Cutten Rd. Their chicken always has a nice smokey flavor.

            County Line
            13850 Cutten Rd, Houston, TX 77069

            1 Reply
            1. re: rondl

              I've never been to the Houston outpost of the CL. I'll pop in next time I'm up that way. Thanks for the recommendation.