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Have I found the best BBQ in Houston?

j
Jaymes Apr 11, 2011 01:59 PM

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.

  1. DoobieWah Apr 11, 2011 02:12 PM

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

    Ribs?

    Sides?

    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
      j
      Jaymes Apr 11, 2011 03:54 PM

      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
        d
        dimsumgirl Apr 12, 2011 07:51 PM

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

        1. re: dimsumgirl
          j
          Jaymes Apr 13, 2011 07:51 AM

          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
            DoobieWah Apr 13, 2011 07:54 AM

            "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. texasredtop Apr 11, 2011 06:08 PM

        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. Lambowner Apr 11, 2011 06:56 PM

          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
            j
            Jaymes Apr 12, 2011 06:07 AM

            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
              Lambowner Apr 14, 2011 01:19 PM

              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
                j
                Jaymes Apr 14, 2011 02:11 PM

                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. t
            trey2222 Apr 12, 2011 08:54 AM

            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
              j
              Jaymes Apr 12, 2011 09:28 AM

              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.

              Y'know?

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

              1. re: Jaymes
                t
                txpickyeater Apr 14, 2011 11:40 AM

                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
                  DoobieWah Apr 14, 2011 11:55 AM

                  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
                    j
                    Jaymes Apr 14, 2011 01:13 PM

                    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.

                    Sigh.

                    1. re: Jaymes
                      t
                      txpickyeater Apr 15, 2011 09:45 AM

                      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
                        j
                        Jaymes Apr 15, 2011 10:04 AM

                        So it just gets better and better, eh?

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

                        Yikes.

                        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.

                        Alas.

              2. l
                LadyGold Apr 15, 2011 09:03 AM

                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
                713-869-4227

                7 Replies
                1. re: LadyGold
                  DoobieWah Apr 15, 2011 09:15 AM

                  Gatlin's?

                  1. re: DoobieWah
                    l
                    LadyGold Apr 15, 2011 09:19 AM

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

                    1. re: LadyGold
                      DoobieWah Apr 15, 2011 09:34 AM

                      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
                    j
                    Jaymes Apr 15, 2011 09:41 AM

                    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
                      j
                      James Cristinian Apr 15, 2011 11:42 AM

                      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
                        j
                        Jaymes Apr 15, 2011 11:56 AM

                        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
                          j
                          James Cristinian Jun 17, 2011 01:52 PM

                          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.

                  3. Lambowner Jun 16, 2011 08:29 PM

                    Best BBQ in America is now in Austin: Franklin's. Been there, Jaymes?

                    http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/sl...

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Lambowner
                      DoobieWah Jun 17, 2011 04:35 AM

                      It just so happens that I will be in Austin for a couple of days the week after next.

                      I have this place penciled in, but remember that I've been eating Ms. Tootsie's que since the mid-Sixties, so it will have to be damned good to get such plaudits from me.

                      1. re: DoobieWah
                        j
                        Jaymes Jun 17, 2011 11:20 AM

                        I left Austin shortly before this place opened, but I've heard my friends waxing rhapsodic about it since the day they first hung out their sign on their BBQ food truck. I've had trips to Austin (including visits to Franklin's) planned several times over the last year or so but, at the last minute, something came up and I couldn't go. I am determined to get up there, though, sometime this fall. I must say I'm thrilled to death with the news that there is a great BBQ spot within the city limits of Austin. Austin wasn't much better off than Houston in that regard for years. Sure, Lockhart is only about a half-hour or so south, depending upon where in Austin you were, but as far as visitors were concerned, unless you had access to a rented or borrowed vehicle, it might as well have been on the moon.

                        So, having good, representative Texas dry-smoked brisket readily available is a huge plus for Austin, and all of her residents and visitors.

                        Can Houston be far behind? Let's hope not.

                        Maybe Aaron Franklin has a brother that would like to give us a try down here.

                        1. re: DoobieWah
                          r
                          reinadetostones Jun 18, 2011 05:22 PM

                          Be sure to check the Austin board for a discussion of the omni-present line, and the accompanying possibility of leaving unsatisfied.

                          Funny:

                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaZx6k...

                          I thought it was as good as Snow's. Gulp. Not much experience with Houston 'cue ( had Goode Co. once and once only) - I'm too busy with Chinese, Japanese, Dolce Vita and oysters. And banh mi. And Venezuelan lunch trucks. I wish Fu Fu and Franklin could work out some kind of cultural exchange - the first week of each month, we get those insane dumplings, and you get the kind brisket.

                          -----
                          Fu Fu Cafe
                          9889 Bellaire Blvd, Houston, TX 77036

                          1. re: DoobieWah
                            DoobieWah Jul 2, 2011 05:46 AM

                            Went to Franklin's yesterday morning, (Friday).

                            We got there at 9:30 for their 11am opening time, and we were 16th in line.

                            By 10am there was a line stretching fifty or so behind us.

                            By 10:30, there were easily a hundred and they had already put up the "SOLD OUT" sign.

                            A half hour before they opened.

                            Seriously.

                            I ordered a half pound of beef and a half pound of pulled pork to bring back to town with me.

                            I ordered a two-meat plate with beef, ribs, beans and potato salad to eat there.

                            The meat is really really good.

                            Really good.

                            The sides were fairly nondescript. Not bad at all, just not holding their own if you know what I mean.

                            The ribs were excellent.

                            The beef is close to, but not quite, what Ms. Tootsie is doing in Lexington.

                            Of course, she's doing it in the stix, once a week and even though they always have a line, if you get there early enough, you will eat.

                            She does NOT sell out before she opens.

                            Every day.

                            Franklin's are expanding their pits so hopefully the crush will subside. While it was really good barbecue, I will not wait an hour and a half in close to 100 ' heat for it again.

                            But I'm glad I did it once.

                            Really really really nice people too. I cannot stress that enough.

                            1. re: DoobieWah
                              Lambowner Jul 2, 2011 06:37 AM

                              Another friend was no. 3 in line yesterday! He reported the same phenomenon! Crazy. He bought 14 lbs for a party. I'm sure his guests were appreciative. Good for you! Your plan came together.

                              1. re: Lambowner
                                j
                                Jaymes Jul 2, 2011 07:08 AM

                                Yep, good for you. A report I can really trust. Something tells me that until they expand their capacity a bit, what your friend, LO, did is probably the best. Order a lot to takeout. That's actually what my daughter's in-laws do at Snow's, too. We just trot right around back, past the line, and pick it up.

                          2. re: Lambowner
                            b
                            bornie Jun 17, 2011 03:12 PM

                            I'll second the vote for Franklin's.. they used to work out of a trailer at 35 and monroe i think it was, just up the road from "Dreamers".. The line started at 1030am..By 2pm everything was gone.. They have now moved to a brick and mortor establishment and I'm looking forward to a visit next wk... Awesome BBQ, better than anything i've had in Luling,,, or anywhere for that matter.

                            1. re: Lambowner
                              d
                              dimsumgirl Jun 25, 2011 02:21 PM

                              Hey! My cousin just wrote me about Franklin's yesterday in anticipation of my August visit to Houston/ Austin. Anyone been?

                              1. re: dimsumgirl
                                air Jun 27, 2011 06:47 AM

                                I've made an effort to go to Franklin every time I'm in the area and can vouch for it being typically as good as (and sometimes better than) Snow's. Highlights are obvious: brisket, sausage, and ribs. Just visited them again this past saturday actually! He plans to triple his capacity and hopefully that happens soon, because the hordes of people just keep growing and the lines start forming earlier and earlier. Before I could get there around 10:30, 10:45, now it's advisable to show up around 9 to 9:30.

                                I have the same tier type view as Jaymes and I'm remain in disbelief at how Snow's and Franklin are putting out BBQ on a higher level compared to what we talk about in Lockhart/Luling/Taylor. The level of flavor, juiciness, smoke, and texture on their briskets is in a completely different league vs the next tier down (which would be the exact same as Jaymes: City Market in Luling, Smitty's and Black's in Lockhart, Louie Mueller in Taylor). And FWIW, friends have told me there have been rare instances where Smitty's will produce a brisket that beats *both* Franklin and Snow's.

                                Lastly I wouldn't call Houston behind; at the very least you are doing far better than last place! I think the difference in quality and quantity of good BBQ there vs. Dallas is staggering and truly puts DFW to shame. I'd be glad to have Houston's handful of solid, reliable local-run pits rather than a whole metroplex overwhelmed with subpar chain BBQ! Some purport that Lockhart Smokehouse is comparable to the actual Kreuz Market in Lockhart, but in my experience, the end result wasn't really a big step over something like Goode. Co/Rudy's. I'm thinking it's a combination of the metroplex's standards for 'cue dropping and the quality of Kreuz also slipping.

                                1. re: dimsumgirl
                                  Cynsa Sep 3, 2011 02:48 PM

                                  Fourth in line at 9:30 am, behind the guys taking 30 lbs back to the office for lunch, behind the BBQ judge and his wife from Arlington TX. Gotta love the brisket. Aaron Franklin smokes 400 lbs. a day and has plans for a 25-ft brick barbecue pit. Now, we know that Ms. Tootsie at Snow's starts smoking brisket at 10:30 pm to finish by 9:30 am Saturday.
                                  Our Austin lunch at home was one pound each of brisket, sausage, ribs with a pork butt plate and two pies. Good eatin' in Austin, it was more than enough for three of us to be well fed. http://flic.kr/s/aHsjw6zQNA

                                  1. re: Cynsa
                                    texasredtop Sep 3, 2011 06:55 PM

                                    WOW, you waited an hour and a half in line? That must be some good bbq. The pictures have me drooling.

                                    1. re: texasredtop
                                      Cynsa Sep 3, 2011 09:47 PM

                                      The time passes swiftly when you're in line with friendly folks who talk 'que with you, sitting on their ice chests, playing cards... worth the wait. Good bark.

                                      1. re: Cynsa
                                        DoobieWah Sep 4, 2011 09:00 AM

                                        Hey Cynsa! What are you doing in Austin? Just for the "Q"?

                                        Did you notice my review above from a visit in July? I also did a full Austin trip report on the Austin board. Where else did you go?

                                        Small world.

                              2. a
                                AdamBCo Jun 27, 2011 08:30 AM

                                Like you I am an avid foodie looking for the best Barbecue in Houston; and I have to say in opinion it is not "Southern Comfort Takeout Kitchen" but "Bobbie-Ques" on Scott Street in the Third Ward. It is undoubtedly the best BBQ in the city. If you go order the Brisket covered in Sauce. I promise you will not leave that place unhappy.

                                http://www.houstonpress.com/locations...

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: AdamBCo
                                  air Jun 27, 2011 08:40 AM

                                  Didn't help it's your first post, but credibility flew out the window the moment you said covered in sauce.

                                  1. re: air
                                    a
                                    AdamBCo Jun 27, 2011 08:52 AM

                                    Trust me on the place. It's one of my favorite Barbecue Dives in the city!

                                    1. re: AdamBCo
                                      j
                                      Jaymes Jun 27, 2011 10:52 AM

                                      And, when you go to that link, all they talk about is the sauce.

                                      They even say that the restaurant on Scott Street was opened as a "sideline to the sauce business."

                                      And that the potato salad is great. And the cole slaw. And the mac and cheese. And the fluffy cornbread. And the catfish. And the hamburger.

                                      But no mention at all of ribs or sausage or brisket.

                                      I'm not hopeful.

                                      1. re: Jaymes
                                        r
                                        rexster314 Sep 4, 2011 09:36 AM

                                        The link here from Robb Walsh says it all.
                                        http://www.houstonpress.com/2010-03-2...

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