Saturday, February 7, 2015

Luling Smoke House BBQ - Kingwood, TX

Its been a whole week since I had some good Q; time to hit the road.

Luling Smoke House BBQ, Kingwood
This weekend's Pit Quest takes us to a little place on Loop 494 just south of Kingwood Drive where Alberto Martinez has been cooking up what has been reported to be some good quality, local BBQ in the Central Texas style. I've been told by several people over the past year that this place is worth a visit, so I decided to stop in to see for myself on this cool, gray, stuck-between-winter-and-spring afternoon in southeast Texas.

Luling Smoke House BBQ operates out of a food truck on the roadside, with a separate, detached permanent smokehouse. Alberto Martinez, owner and pitmaster, has been occupying 
Owner Alberto Martinez checks sausage on the pit
this spot on Loop 494 for more than two years ("three years this July," he points out). He went out on his own in the BBQ business after having spent 30+ years honing his skills at the Luling City Market* in Houston. Its obvious Mr. Martinez knows his craft; he keeps a well-used, large offset pit in an enclosed shed near the parking spot for his food truck. Proudly offering a tour of his operations, he gave me a peek at the afternoon's product resting in the warmth of the pit for the remaining hours of the day. Plenty of well-seasoned stacks of brisket, pork ribs, and sausage were there, even at about 2:30 pm. "Business has been slow," he says, despite the milder weather, and even on weekends. He's definitely challenged by the restrictions and 
limitations imposed on the food truck business by the City, not being able to have even picnic table seating without the facilities required for restaurants. So if you're planning to go, be prepared for take-out BBQ and what that means (eating in your car or taking it home.) I couldn't wait, eager to get at it while it was still hot. I carefully unfolded my foil-wrapped sampling of moist brisket, sausage, turkey and rib and picnicked on my tailgate, challenged a little bit by the breeze, but still a pleasant experience for a leisurely Saturday afternoon.

Split red oak and white oak at 
Luling Smoke House BBQ
They say one of the first signs you're probably onto a pretty good BBQ spot is the size of the woodpile, and this one was big. Mr. Martinez tells me he uses a combination of white oak and red oak in his pit, saying he thinks the combination is closest to the flavor he would get from smoking with post oak, which he prefers. But post oak has to be shipped in from Central Texas, and is expensive to get in this part of the state. Since we were on the subject of expenses, I asked Mr. Martinez how he was affected by the rising cost of beef, especially brisket. He said brisket was a little over $2.00/lb about a year ago, and he paid $3.78 for today's briskets. That's quite a jump, and just like everyone else he's had to pass some of that on to the customers. But you would still be hard-pressed to find a better value for the quality in this area; he offers meat by the pound at a flat rate of $14.00 (up only $2.00/lb from last year), and sausages at $4.25 per link.

Luling Smoke House BBQ provides the standard Texas quintet of smoked meats--brisket, pork ribs, sausage, turkey and chicken. Plates are available, as well as sandwiches, or order by the pound. My sampler consisted of four meats; I saved the chicken for a future visit. I was impressed with the brisket--good smoke penetration, and still moist at 2:30 in the afternoon. The pork spareribs were big and meaty and very good, but I would have liked to have seen a little more dry rub and
Current menu, good prices
especially pepper on these (my personal preference for ribs). A standout was the smoked sausage link, which is homemade by Mr. Martinez. Juicy, with a great flavor, good texture, and that requisite snap on the casing. (Don't skip the sausage!) I could pass on the turkey though, which was a processed product. It was definitely improved by its time served on the pit. Beans and potato salad are the available sides, but I passed this time. Sauce is really good; a Central Texas-style vinegar-based tangy sauce that complements the smoked meats very well. There may have been some mustard in there, and ground black pepper flecks in suspension, a red pepper or other heat source in the background that provided enough bite to grab your attention, with just the right amount of sweet to balance the heat.

Stop by Luling Smoke House BBQ if you're headed up US 59 towards Humble or beyond. Introduce yourself to Alberto Martinez. You'll be glad you did!

Until next time...


Nice spread from Luling Smoke House BBQ
Customers lining up at Luling Smoke House BBQ on a Saturday afternoon
Hefty pork spare ribs at Luling Smoke House BBQ  #smokering
Alberto Martinez, happy in his element, his pit shed

Luling Smoke House BBQ, 22730 Texas Loop 494, Kingwood, TX 77339, (281) 881-6965. 

Head north on US 59 - Eastex Freeway, exit Loop 494/Hamblen Rd./Sorters-McClellan Rd., travel 1.8 miles and Luling Smoke House BBQ will be on your right. Open Monday through Friday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, Saturdays 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed Sundays. Credit cards accepted. Catering available.

(*Note: Luling Smoke House BBQ is not affiliated with either the Luling City Market in Houston or the City Market in Luling).

Luling Smokehouse BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, thank you. Did I say thank you? Luling City Market North. Oh, yeah!