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Apr 11, 2011 01:59 PM

Have I found the best BBQ in Houston?

I dunno. Maybe.

But first a few caveats:

1,) It isn't really in Houston; it's in Katy. But still...

2.) I know that just because I liked it doesn't mean that everyone will like it. If I hadn't learned long ago that tastes, likes, dislikes, etc., vary widely, I have only to note that Goode Co BBQ is still in business.

3.) Just as it's possible for a great joint to put out an occasional mediocre hunk o' brisket, it's possible for a mediocre joint to put out an occasional great hunk o' brisket. So my experience might not be typical. Although I've been twice, and it was terrific each time.

So, all that said, and while I know I may be far too enthusiastic far too soon, I recently noticed a small food trailer in the parking lot of Sunny's Liquor on the west side of Mason, about a block south of I-10. Emblazoned across the side, in large black letters, it said "BBQ." So I drove up to take a closer look.

The menu looked promising, and there was a black offset smoker puffing out some righteous aromas, so decided to give it a try.

The first thing that gave me considerable hope was that when I asked for my brisket to be sliced "off the high side," the fellow actually knew what I meant. With the exception of Piersons, this is the only other place in Houston that seemed to have any idea what I was talking about (even after listing other commonplace terms - "fatty, moist, wet, the point, the deckle, the fat cap" - to blank and uncomprehending faces).

And my hope was well rewarded. The brisket was delicious, tender, flavorful, moist and smoky - the best that I've had since I moved to the Houston area from Austin a little over two years ago. I chatted up the proprietors, a father & son team. They told me they've been open in that location about a year. After several years as a competition cooker (with the "Road Kill" team), the son is trying to make a go of the barbecue biz full time, and if the two sandwiches I've eaten there are any indication, they deserve to make a go of it.

The name of the place is "Southern Comfort Takeout Kitchen" (281-392-6860) and in addition to barbecue, they're offering cajun items like gumbo, red beans and rice, smoked boudin, and Louisiana-style bread pudding.

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  1. What about the chicken? Do they do a half chicken?



    7 Days a week? Hours of operation?

    I know, I know. A lot of questions. (But maybe another field trip/research foray is in order?)

    4 Replies
    1. re: DoobieWah

      Well, DW, I've only been twice, and just got the brisket and nothing else. That's what BBQ is all about for me. So that's where I start. Then, if the brisket is good, I'll branch out into the "accessories." The next thing I try are the ribs (although I haven't gotten that far with these folks yet). I'm just not that interested in sides at a 'cue joint. That's not why I go. I guess that's partly because I'm accustomed to Central Texas smoked meat markets, where many of them don't even offer any sides. In fact, to be brutally frank, if neither the brisket nor the ribs are great, I don't care about the sides at all, and don't go back. I can get all the delicious sides I want at Luby's.

      That said, they do offer a fairly typical "sides" list - potato salad, cole slaw, beans, jalapenos, pickles & onions. And less typical - gumbo, red beans & rice, beef jerky, baked potato, chili, Frito pie. Like I said, didn't try any of them so don't know if they're made in house, or how good they are, although I must say that their sides list seems more ambitious and promising than most.

      Regarding the chicken. I did pick up a menu and a quick perusal does not mention it under the meats - just "ribs, brisket, pork, sausage, boudin." They are operating out of a food truck, though, so who knows - if this is successful, they might open an actual restaurant, and offer more items.

      Looks like they're open Monday through Sat, 11-8pm.

      But I did list the phone number, in case anyone wants to call.

      Nonmancher's BBQ also on Mason, a few blocks south, does chicken. I don't know how good it is, though.

      I don't know if you're interested but, in the past, I've bought whole chickens when I saw them on sale, and then taken them to a favorite 'cue joint and had them custom smoked for me. A lot of trouble, I know, but it's an option. These folks at Southern Comfort are working hard to establish a business, so you might call them and ask them if they ever have chicken. Who knows - they might give it a try to see if it's a good seller.

      If they say they will try it, let me know, and I'll swing by and pick up a couple, too.

      1. re: DoobieWah

        How does it compare to Snow's? That's my standard...

        1. re: dimsumgirl

          Little too early to be absolutely certain, but...

          I rank barbecue on my personal scale into "tiers." I occasionally have been unpleasantly surprised by the one joint I thought was "best"; and pleasantly surprised by some I had only visited once or twice and had basically written off.

          So rather than have a hard and fast list, I've developed personal ranking system, grouping joints into tiers where, in my experience anyway, they usually fall.

          My top tier: Snow's, City Market in Luling, Smitty's and Black's in Lockhart, Louie Mueller in Taylor. (Cooper's in Llano used to be in that tier, but that was back when I lived in a suburb north of Austin, and got to Llano fairly often. Now, I haven't been in years, so I'm not listing them anywhere anymore.)

          I don't really expect that Southern Comfort Takeout Kitchen will crack the top tier, although of course, it's too soon to tell, and anything's possible.

          But frankly, I'll be ecstatic if they find a consistently happy spot in the second.

          1. re: Jaymes

            "I'll be ecstatic if they find a consistently happy spot in the second."

            A second tier that is located just down the street is worth a lot.

            (Have you made it out to Dozier's yet?)

      2. Sounds exciting! Can't wait to try it. But now when I head that way will it be Orleans or the bbq trailer? Heading down to Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar tomorrow for a second try. Can't wait!

        1. Hmmm, I used to drive by that guy all the time. For a while, he had a sign out looking for investors, maybe for a brick and mortar place. I shoulda stopped in!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Lambowner

            Well, I hope y'all try it. I'm curious what others think about it. And if it is good, would like to see him stick around for a bit. As it is, he doesn't seem to have much business. He's very hard to see from Mason stuck way back there. I drove up and down that street (even looking for barbecue) for, what, a year, and just recently noticed him.

            1. re: Jaymes

              Well, I must be thinking of a different guy then. There was a pit on S. Mason around Cimmaron in a strip center parking lot. But you couldn't miss him, he was right at a major intersection.

              1. re: Lambowner

                You know what, I do remember seeing that truck. It was south of the place where the Southern Comfort guy has parked. That other truck was across from Las Tarascas, a great little Mexican market/carniceria with a very small lunch counter serving up very authentic Mexican plate lunches.

                Las Tarascas
                1025 S Mason Rd, Katy, TX 77450

          2. I have heard about this place several times. Thanks for the post. Do they have sauce and other condiments? Have you tried Houston Barbecue Company? Also on the West side, Eldridge Parkway.

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

            6 Replies
            1. re: trey2222

              They do have sauce. I got my sliced brisket sandwich "all the way," which included sauce, pickles and onions. I didn't get any sauce separately because I knew I was going to eat in my car, and the sauce thing can get really messy. But the sauce on the sandwich tasted great. I don't care for really sweet sauce, so I don't think it was, or I would have noticed.

              Since I've had pretty good luck thus far, I think next time I'll just get a "spread" to go - with brisket, ribs, sausage and some sides to take home.

              I'll know more after that.

              But thus far, I'm feeling pretty encouraged.

              Haven't tried Houston Barbecue Company. Seems like I've heard about it from several sources recently, though, so obviously I need to give it a go sometime soon. Driving to Luling once a month is kinda inconvenient. Especially now, when I could buy an entire 10-lb brisket, a slab of ribs, and a dozen sides for the cost of a tank of gas.


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

              1. re: Jaymes

                I went by and got ribs and brisket. Start with the ribs. The ribs were pulled out and while cutting them they seemed dull looking, almost like they had been in the fridge. After they were cut up they were placed in the microwave, oy vey.The brisket was from two briskets, on never sliced on before. Took it home to eat. The ribs were as disappointing as expected. The slices of brisket from the first brisket had a modest smoke ring, it was dry and the connective tissue was still tough. The second brisket had a much more pronounced smoke ring and bark. It looked promising. However the dark smoke ring was really more char than smoke, very dried out. Maybe I caught them at the wrong time but I was disappointed all around. I would diagnose both the brisket and ribs and being cooked to hot and not long enough. IMO.

                On the subject of Houston Barbecue Company on eldridge. You'd be hard pressed in a blind taste test to tell the difference bet it and Luling City (not City Market in Luling). Not suprising as the people involved were formerly with Luling City. However Both Houston bbq and Luling City have the same flaw from my experience. Only go when they are busy. Go mid afternoon or after the evening rush you're liable to get meat that has dried out waiting too long. Being said I do like going by and its the only place after the Q is all gone I'm still soaking the bread with the sauce. I have been know to use up a whole bottle myself.

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

                1. re: txpickyeater

                  Re: Houston BBQ Co.,

                  The last time I was in there I noticed that beef is $13.75/lb just like at Luling City Market, (and NOT City Market in Luling).

                  As you noted, the food is very similar to that establishment, but they aren't paying Galleria rents!

                  1. re: txpickyeater

                    Well rats about Southern Comfort. I must have just gotten lucky. I went fairly early in the day both times - around 11am. I'll give them another try, but I'm no longer so hopeful.

                    Thanks for going and giving them a try, and thanks for getting back with us about it.


                    1. re: Jaymes

                      I hope what I got was a aberration. But I was taken aback by the microwaving of the ribs. I forgot about the sauce. I had a separate tub of their sauce. I thought it was too sweet. It also had a gelatinous texture, something between karo syrup and cold hot and sour soup.

                      1. re: txpickyeater

                        So it just gets better and better, eh?

                        If there's one thing I love, it's a gelatinous sweet sauce!


                        As I said, I only had a sliced brisket sandwich. You clearly did a more comprehensive test. It sounds far too ghastly to be an aberration.


              2. This is now my favorite spot. It's a typical Heights bungalow - three (?) tables in front and a side porch. So far I've had their pulled pork and ribs. They also have sausage, home made links, brisket, baby back ribs and turkey. Brisket is $13.50 a pound ribs are $12.50. Sides include dirty rice - with chicken livers, green beans to die for, baked beans, cole slaw and potato salad.

                Warning - this is not a romantic dining spot, in fact finding a spot to even sit down at lunch time may not be do-able. But oh, my the food is great - if they haven't run out and if you arrive late that may well be the case. Call ahead to be sure and avoid waiting in line.

                1221 W. 19th Street

                7 Replies
                  1. re: DoobieWah

                    Um, yes. I guess CH didn't use my subject. I'm new to this board.

                    1. re: LadyGold

                      I just looked up some photos and it looks great.

                      I may have to find that sometime soon.

                      (But don't tell Ms. Vanessa!)

                  2. re: LadyGold

                    Well, I'm gonna try it.

                    Still bummed about Southern Comfort. I'll try it again, but not with such great expectations. I hate reading that others didn't have a good experience there.

                    That really sucks.

                    Or blows.

                    One or the other.

                    Maybe both.

                    1. re: Jaymes

                      Jaymes, at the risk of annoying a certain poster, I'm gonna go ahead and discuss this place. I must say it's too bad they don't serve burgers and TexMex. I've been there and it was really good, the ribs great, brisket very good, and sausage just ok. One drawback, they are turtle slow. I got there at 11 am, the opening time, and at about 11:10 they finally opened the door. It took about twenty minutes to get food, with one guy in front of me getting a plate, and me getting a three meat a la carte. They had plenty of staff, three in the kitchen, and one up front. A friend had a similiar experience, and I've read about it from others, but it was really good. The location is at the erstwhile Jazzie Cafe loacation. Now, back to my at home crawfish boil. I'm sneezing, the spices in the water are ready.

                      Jazzie Cafe
                      1221 W 19th St, Houston, TX 77008

                      1. re: James Cristinian

                        Are we talking about Gatlin's?

                        I must say, it does sound promising.

                        Also sounds like it maybe hasn't been there too long, either. Is that right?

                        1. re: Jaymes

                          Somehow I missed responding to you. Yes Gaitlin's, and I have only been there the one time, but it was delicious. The brisket was very good, and the ribs reminded me of City Market in Luling, one of my favorites. The sausage was ok. Again, the service was very slow, and a friend of mine had the same problem, and I have read about others having problems with the wait.