Sunday, February 15, 2015

Southern Q BBQ & Catering - Houston, TX

Southern Q... "You deserve good BBQ".

This statement, prominently displayed on the back of the bright yellow trailer where Southern Q carved out it's niche in the Houston BBQ scene over the past 4 years, speaks volumes. Steve Garner and his wife Sherice have landed, and I don't mean they broke down on the side of the road and can't go any further. "You deserve good BBQ" is their mantra, their mission statement, their philosophy, and it shows. It shows from the moment you walk into their new location and are greeted by Sherice, and Steve's mother Cathy, from behind the counter. It's there from the time your order arrives, until you finish up and are headed out the door feeling thanks and appreciation. You can't help but feel that they believe each and every customer truly deserves good BBQ, and a great BBQ experience.

The meats at Southern Q BBQ
J.C. Reid brought Southern Q to our attention in his Houston Chronicle article last September. Click the link; it's definitely worth the read. In Reid's article, you'll notice he too picked up on the motto right away--evidence that it is an integral part of how the Garners run their business. Reid also provided the details of how the Garners got their start, and the origins of the East Texas-style BBQ they cook and why. Now that they've moved into a physical structure on Kuykendahl Rd. just north of FM 1960 in north Harris County, I had to stop by to see what's happening in their new place.

The new home of Southern Q BBQ
The little red building the Garners have been crafting into a new, permanent home for Southern Q over last few months is ready for prime time, and debuted this past Friday. The previous owner of the structure had built it as a BBQ restaurant for his son, but he lost interest and closed down, and it remained vacant for quite some time. The location seemed perfect as a new home for Southern Q, so Steve worked on him for a while and was eventually able to persuade him to sell. The kitchen, obviously with much more room than the trailer, will be a big help in their catering business. It also came with a bonus--a wood-fired Ole Hickory rotisserie pit in excellent condition. Steve smokes brisket, ribs and turkey legs in the Ole Hickory, and keeps his trailer pit just outside the door for chicken, sausage, boudin and other items needing different time and temperature. His wood of choice is red oak, plentiful in this area, with a little hickory thrown in from time-to-time for added flavor.

I brought along a dining companion for this week's trip, my wife Susan, who thankfully seemed okay with the idea of BBQ for a Valentine's Day late lunch. Since we wanted to try a little of everything, we opted for the "Taste of the South Sampler", a combination of brisket, ribs, turkey, sausage, beans potato salad, Cajun rice and grilled corn--a great value for two, with enough left over to take a little home. We added a link of homemade smoked boudin on the side, which they served with Texas Firecrackers™. Brisket was the impressive standout for both of us on this day; great smoke flavor and bark, with a subtle hint of marinade that was "just there" in each bite--not overpowering at all. The smoked turkey, with a thin layer of caramelized sauce on the edge of each slice, seemed to have been perfectly brined to start, providing a balanced salt presence throughout, along with the moisture retention one expects from a good brine.

Nice meal for two at Southern Q

Handmade sausage is always a treat, and Steve's did not disappoint--nice snap on the casing, punchy with garlic, and with a good balance of coarse-ground beef, pork and other seasonings. Ribs were enjoyable--big and meaty, but that speckling of coarse black pepper on the crust that I personally favor on ribs was absent. Homemade sides were memorable--we both left craving more Cajun rice, filled with with a perfect balance of spices and noticeable pieces of green onions and red bell pepper. The grilled corn was an unique treat, served in half-ears with a sweet, buttery glaze and excellent smoke flavor from its time spent in one of the pits. The smoked boudin was flavorful, but I would have liked it better if it had more spice. (I'm always on the trail for smoked, spicy boudin!) I recognized many traditional flavors and ingredients from boudin in my time growing up in southeast Texas, and really enjoyed the addition of cuts of chopped lean pork. Do not leave without sampling one of the homemade desserts made by Steve's mother Cathy. Her rich, chocolate sheet cake with pecans was a hit, and we even had enough willpower to get out of there with a few bites to take home to share with the kids!

There has obviously been a lot of passion poured into the development of this location. Hand-painted BBQ-themed murals cover the walls, and typical BBQ restaurant Texana decor is tastefully located throughout. The new dining room has about a dozen tables, and there's room just outside to add outdoor seating for additional capacity during nice weather. They now have more room to spread out and think about what they might be able to add or do differently. One thing I noticed right away--the new place will allow them to expand their hours. Steve said "We're now open 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, Wednesday through Saturday, and 11:00 am to 4:00 pm on Sunday. We'll probably expand those hours during the summer months." He's also been able to bring on more staff; two in the dining area and 3 or 4 more in the kitchen, which may help in another way. Once some of these folks are up to speed on the operation, Steve might just be able to get a little more sleep than he has when he's been the only one on the pits at night. 

I asked Steve if he'd been hurt by the rising brisket prices or if it had caused him to consider other beef product offerings, but he said no, he would stick with the typical cuts, what he knows his customers like. "It's the only way we know how; it's what we learned," he says. Similar to other BBQ joints around town, he said he might consider adding some daily specials now and again to increase draw. Prices are reasonable, with brisket at $15.95/lb, and ribs and sausage at $14.95/lb. Whole chickens are $12.95.

The yellow trailer is parked out back (for now). With the quality of what the Garners are putting out, look for it to be back on the road in the future, scouting out new locations where they might grow. The little red shack won't be big enough to hold the crowds that will be lined up to get in once the word gets out.

You're going to like this place...


The "Taste of the South" spread from Southern Q BBQ

Steve Garner and Scott Sandlin of Texas Pit Quest "talking shop"
(there 10 minutes and I already have sauce on my shirt!)

Homemade smoked boudin with Texas Firecrackers

Steve Garner checking the rotating stock in the Ole Hickory

Finish with homemade desserts, hand-made by Steve's mom Cathy

Steve Garner is ready for the ride

Southern Q BBQ & Catering, 16540 Kuykendahl Rd., Houston, TX 77068, (832) 250-4851.
Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm; Sunday, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Southern Q BBQ on Urbanspoon


  1. What a delicious looking BBQ place. I personally think that being able to have a great looking place is something that can ensure that you are getting the most out of your business. Something that would be interesting is to know what kind of options are available when it comes to catering? Hopefully business will keep being booming, and I can't wait to try some out for myself. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks for the reviews about Southern Q BBQ & Catering services. I just loved their services. You know I am going to throw a corporate part and hired the corporate event planning firm for this work. They suggested me to hire their Catering so I was just looking for reviews. Now I’ll definitely hire them!

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  4. I love this place. I had never tried it until my husband had it at work. This is my ultimate stop for Bar B Q. But I must say, be aware of the guys that say they are Southern Q on from cypresswood. They are not the original. Their name is same but their products are DEFINITELY different. The one on cypresswood handed out cards to get business and later served food that was not worth the price they charged. Hats off to the Kuykendahl location !!!!!