Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Best BBQ of 2015 - Texas Pit Quest Celebrates the Excellence of Texas BBQ

2015 was the breakout year for Texas Pit Quest. My friends Andrew and Bryan and I traveled far and wide in search of premier Texas BBQ; we discovered some new gems, and were happy to find many of our favorites still delivering quality Q on a consistent basis.

Houston-area BBQ featured prominently in our travels, as it's really our home base, but several 400 plus-mile road trips took us to new BBQ destinations across Texas. Some have asked what was my favorite BBQ I had this year. I looked back through my posts and photos and have assembled what I recall to be my 25 most memorable bites (or trays I shared), presented here in chronological order:

Killen's Barbecue - Pearland: Brisket, sausage, and pork ribs, 2/8/15

Southern Q BBQ & Catering - Houston: Taste of the South Sampler Platter, 2/14/15

Freedmen's Bar - Austin: Holy Trinity Plate, 3/7/15

Blue Moon BBQ - Hearne: Cowboy Cornbread, 3/7/15

Pinkerton's Barbecue - Houston: Brisket, 3/14/15

Tin Roof BBQ - Humble: Texas Cheesesteak Sandwich, 4/3/15

Snow's BBQ - Lexington: Brisket and chicken, 4/4/15

Louie Mueller Barbecue - Taylor: Big beef plate rib, 4/4/15

Jackson Street BBQ - Houston: Pork spareribs, 4/9/15

Jackson Street BBQ - Houston: Brisket burnt ends on jalapeno cheddar biscuit, 4/17/15

Zimmerhanzel's BBQ - Smithville: Beef sausage, 4/18/15

Pieous - Austin: House-smoked pastrami, 4/18/15

Feges BBQ - Houston: Whole hog, Houston Barbecue Festival, 4/26/15

Blood Bros. BBQ - Houston: Smoked quail, 5/9/15

Pioneer BBQ - Nixon: Brisket, ribs, sausage, firecracker corn, 5/30/15

Kreuz Market - Lockhart: Pork chop, plus full spread, 5/30/15

Southside Market & Barbeque - Bastrop: Southside Sausage Slammer, 5/30/15

Roegels Barbecue Co. - Houston: Smoked rack of lamb, 6/1/15

Blood Bros. BBQ - Houston: Gochujang beef belly burnt ends, 6/20/15

Stanley's Famous Pit BBQ - Tyler: The infamous Mother Clucker, 7/2/15

Pappa Charlies Barbeque - Houston: Boneless beef short rib burnt ends, 7/31/15

Corkscrew BBQ - Spring: Full spread, 8/1/15

John Mueller Meat Co. - Austin: Brisket, 8/29/15

Pappa Charlies Barbeque - Houston: Pork spareribs, 10/20/15

Pappa Charlies Barbeque - Houston: Full spread, 10/21/15

Pappa Charlies Barbeque - Houston: Brisket chili Frito pie, 12/27/15

(photo by Pappa Charlies Barbeque)

All photos © Scott Sandlin, Texas Pit Quest, unless noted otherwise. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Houston BBQ Joints Deliver the Goods for the Holidays

The vibrant Houston BBQ scene is filled with unique options for the holiday season, as well as take-out selections so you won't have to look too far for creative ideas to serve your family or guests. Or why not consider giving the gift of delicious smoked meats? I took the opportunity to round up several places in the area you may want to consider as you start to firm up your menu plans, or if you're looking for the perfect gift for that meat lover you know!

Corkscrew BBQ makes it easy to select your favorite items to pick up and serve at home. Meats are sold whole, priced by the pound, and are typically cold and pre-wrapped, with easy-to-follow reheat instructions provided. Pre-order menu is available here. The last day for pre-order pick ups will be December 23. After that, Corkscrew is off for annual R&R and family time, and will be open again on January 5.

Delicious Corkscrew brisket

Tin Roof BBQ in Atascocita is once-again offering smoked turkeys and hams, sizes and prices vary. A new item this year will be 44 Farms smoked sirloin, in half and whole sizes, pre-order only. They are offering this in lieu of "traditional" prime rib due its high price point, and with the intent to "keep price low for our customers". For prices and to place an order, call the restaurant at (281) 852-5577.

44 Farms smoked sirloin from Tin Roof BBQ

Tin Roof BBQ smoked turkey, photo by Tin Roof.

Killen's Barbecue has brought back their popular brisket and pork tamales, sold by the dozen for $20 at the restaurant on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, first come, first served (no pre-orders). Bulk pre-orders of other meats are available with a 10 lb. minimum, and you need to provide at least 48 hours notice. The best way to place pre-orders for Killen's is by email at and please make sure you leave a call-back number in your message. 

Killen's Barbecue brisket tamales. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Park.

Southern Q BBQ & Catering offers a traditional dinner with items such as smoked turkey and southern side dishes, praline-glazed ham, or barbecue, so you can "enjoy more time with your family and guests!" View their entire holiday menu here; orders must be placed by December 20, and pickup for Christmas is December 24 between 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Place your order at the restaurant during normal business hours, or call (832) 250-4851.

Southern Q whole smoked turkeys, photo by Southern Q.

Roegels Barbecue has smoked turkeys and hams for pre-order. Call the restaurant at (713) 977-8725 for pricing and details. Meats from their regular menu are also available by the pound. Party Packs and catering options are listed on their website. Gift cards for family and friends are also available.

Whole smoked turkey, photo by Roegels Barbecue

Brooks' Place has a great lineup for holiday pre-order specials this year. Not only are they doing whole smoked turkeys again, they will also have smoked hams, oxtails, and smoked duck. Call (832) 893-1682, last day to pre-order is December 20. They also offer gift cards, which you can buy online here.

Smoked duck, photo by Brooks' Place

Pappas Bar-B-Q has fully-smoked turkeys for $54.95 and glazed hams for $34.95, available for pickup from December 19 through January 1; call your nearest location to place your order. Brochure is available here.

Spring Creek Barbeque sells all their meats "to go" by the pound, and sides in various sizes. Call your nearest location for prices, details and to place your order.

Rudy's BBQ does a brisk online mail order business (shipped next day or 2nd day air), where you can order their brisket, ribs, smoked sausage, smoked turkey breast and creamed corn for delivery. Gift cards, gift baskets, and other items are also available. Free shipping on all meat orders over $125; order online here.

Of course, all your favorite Houston joints are still cooking and serving up their regular menu items, for dine in and take out, so you won't have to worry about getting your BBQ fix over Christmas break. Be sure to check in before you head out though; many places will adjust their hours and days off over the holidays so they can spend time with family as well.

"Deck the halls with smoked meat goodness..."

Merry Christmas everyone!

- Scott

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Texas Monthly BBQ Fest 2015 Attracts BBQ Lovers from Across the Nation

"BBQ Groupies."

Maybe that's what we are. If that has become our moniker, I guess I can live with that. The BBQ groupies came out in droves this year for TMBBQ Fest 2015 on the City Terrace at the Long Center in Austin. If you truly love music, you would make a comparable effort to attend ACL Fest. Movies and other media, SXSW. We love food, in particular Texas BBQ, and we travel the state (and beyond) in search of the best meat slingers we can find. Doesn't sound so much different than someone than follows their favorite band across country on tour, does it?

TMBBQ Fest is currently the one of the largest publicly-accessible BBQ celebrations in the country (as opposed to the competition circuit, which is an entirely different type of event). Some other well-attended (and growing) BBQ-related gatherings you should look into include the Houston Barbecue Festival, Smoked Dallas, Red Dirt BBQ & Music Festival, Meat Fight, Meatopia, and the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. It's no surprise the TMBBQ Fest has developed a following far beyond our own borders. Was it the impetus for some of the other festivals? That's hard to say with any certainty, but it seems likely in some cases given the timeline of their beginnings. With BBQ more popular than ever, people want to know more about its history, origins, and people, and TMBBQ Fest gives attendees a chance to sample some of the oldest and most acclaimed BBQ institutions in the state, all in one place. Texas BBQ lovers from far and wide are able to get a glimpse of "where it all began", meet the creative hardworking people behind it, and establish a level of connectivity to its roots not otherwise possible from a distance.

BBQ, and Texas BBQ specifically, is increasing in popularity, not just across the United States, but internationally as well. There is now truly legitimate Texas BBQ to be found across the US in Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, New York City, Connecticut, Virginia, and Washington DC, just to name a few. You're also able to get your fix if you find yourself across the pond in both London and Paris! At this year's Fest I met and shared the experience with fellow BBQ lovers who traveled from Washington, Minnesota, Virginia, and Florida. "Celebrities" are beginning to take notice as well. Spotted in the crowd this year sampling the excellent Texas BBQ offerings were television personality Chuck Woolery, Texas troubadour Robert Earl Keen, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott. I can affirm the Governor wasn't just there to check out the sauce!

2015 marks the sixth annual TMBBQ Fest, and the second I've been able to attend. I honestly believe the BBQ joints improved their products from what was offered last year, which makes my attendance at next year's Fest inevitable to determine if the trend will continue. 

My most memorable bites this year:

Though my list may look similar to others already published, I promise it wasn't lifted from or influenced by anyone else. Consider it a testament, as a consensus, that these bites were really that good!

Follow the BBQ...

- Scott

The calm before the storm

Big beef rib by Stiles Switch BBQ

Crowd queued up just prior to VIP opening at noon 

Bib beef rib bites from Louie Mueller Barbecue

Lining up for Buzzie's Bar-B-Q

Good stuff from Freedmen's and Hays Co. Bar-B-Que

Killen's Barbecue of Pearland in the house

Hatfield's BBQ slicing it up

Sausage from Louie Mueller Barbecue

General admission really fills the place up

Delicious lamb pop, plus beef rib and brisket bites from Louie Mueller Barbecue

The boys from Hays Co. Bar-B-Que in San Marcos

Beautiful slice from Stiles Switch

John Lewis and crew of La Barbecue

Roasted green chile sauce and homemade pickles from La Barbecue

Delicious baby back rib from Two Bros. BBQ Market

Chewy brisket chocolate chip cookie, topped with candied brisket, from Freedmen's

All pictures (c) Scott Sandlin, Texas Pit Quest. All rights reserved