The Best BBQ Spots In Houston

The best spots for smoked brisket, boudin, and chopped beef baked potatoes as big as your head.
The Best BBQ Spots In Houston image

photo credit: Liz Silva

The Lone Star State took the adage, “smoke ‘em if you got ‘em,” and doubled down when it comes to barbecue. But unlike our Central Texas cousins that have whole city blocks dedicated to brick-and-mortar meat markets, it’s Houston’s competition barbecue that takes center stage—y’all heard about the Rodeo? While we salute those grinding for cook-off awards, this guide is focused on the pitmasters firing up the smokers day in and day out. Apologies in advance to fans of the blue-ribbon barbecue out in the suburbs, this guide covers Houston only.

Opinions on barbecue can spark feuds spanning generations. So whether you prefer Southern, Cajun-influenced, Central Texas-style, Mexican, new school, old school, or straight-up country, embrace the barbecue debate by having an informed opinion.


photo credit: Richard Casteel


Trinity Gardens

$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentSerious Take-Out Operation
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Many know Triple J’s as that stand with the giant, smoked-crusted turkey legs at the Rodeo. It's also a music-bumping takeout joint in Trinity Gardens with a line from open to close. Open since 1994, Triple J’s represents a specific style of Houston barbecue: part country cookout, part Texas-style low and slow-smoked barbecue, and part East Texas potluck smashed together. The smoked ribs come with a tangy sauce that’s a perfect counterbalance to the meat. Boudin is steeped in cayenne, giving it just enough heat. Order the largest size of sides, especially the collard greens with potlikker so rich you might discover a gold coin. Always make sure to get enough to feed the family.

This Acres Homes landmark has served classic East Texas-style barbecue for the last half-century. Burns feels like a cookout, and not just because people camp out on the picnic tables. Unlike other places that have one or two standout dishes, Burns specializes in, well, everything. The entire menu will be spotted on someone’s plate—a rack of ribs, snappy sausage links, and southern-style sides. The best order here only depends on who you’re asking, but at very least, a pork rib or two should hit your plate.

Southern-style sides make the best companions for great barbecue, and no other place gets that like Gatlin’s BBQ in the GOOF neighborhood. Gatlin’s gets busy, especially on the weekends, but the wait is best used to make the tough calls like what meats and sides you can’t live without. Your combination should at least include the brisket that all but shimmers on your tray and the smokey traditional pork sausage. As for the sides, a tray isn’t complete without the spice of dirty rice, the fried okra that’s tender but never mushy, and the candied yams that are sweet enough to count as dessert.

Don’t be scared off by the giant, semi-menacing metal pig head mounted on the patio—we promise Feges BBQ is a friendly Spring Branch neighborhood spot even if it has all the appeal of a typical strip center restaurant. The new-school-meets-old-school style of barbecue has sides you won't find at other Houston places, like Korean braised greens and pimento mac and cheese. Feges has a simple order counter—no showy meat slicing —and trots out trays of barbecue, sides, and mini cast irons of hog fat cornbread to your table.

When you just want old-school, straightforward Texas barbecue, go to Pinkerton’s Barbecue in The Heights. During prime barbecue hour (a.k.a. 11am) every pick-up truck within a three-mile radius lines up for brisket with a hint of smoke, tender turkey, and bacon-flecked macaroni and cheese. Someone definitely selected the “Texas” package given the many picnic tables, flagstone walls, and beer signs decorating the space. Pinkerton’s pulls it off, mainly because everyone here seems to care deeply about smoked meat and making sure you try the duck jambalaya.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

barbecue spread on a wood table with smoked ribs, corn, french fries, and fried fish

Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack


Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack has been around since 1984 and is the best Third Ward spot for consistent barbecue. Ray’s is a key part of the neighborhood–usually, this joint is filled with regulars whose weekly ritual includes coming here for a loaded brisket baked potato, and folks craning their necks to catch glimpses of a football game between forkfuls of fried okra. We like their three-meat plates because you can sample their BBQ Big Three (brisket, pulled pork, and sausage) and sides like sweet hushpuppies filled with corn, and smoky baked beans that make us yearn to live a rustic cowboy lifestyle.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

$$$$Perfect For:LunchWalk-Ins

Grabbing a three-meat plate at Roegels feels like sliding into a small-town roadside barbecue joint. And even though it’s smack dab amongst the Galleria area restaurant chaos, the barbecue’s pretty damn good. All the usual pit-smoked suspects line the menu. The meat is tender, the macaroni and cheese has a funky spiral noodle, and Roegels will even slap some brisket on a grilled cheese for you. That’s how you power lunch.

If you love queso with a side of pulled pork, you want The Pit Room in Montrose. Unlike most spots, Pit Room is open most of the day and never seems to run out of meat. And while the dining room is fairly small, The Pit Room has a sprawling patio deck with an outdoor bar, so you can enjoy a giant plate of smoked meats the way our wild west-ranging ancestors intended: outside, with a beer in hand, and your clothes smelling of slow-smoking beef, pork, and turkey. This spot has the standard combination meat, and it also serves smoky queso, pulled pork tacos, frito pie, and, importantly, breakfast tacos stuffed with brisket and eggs.

photo credit: Richard Casteel

$$$$Perfect For:LunchDessertDining Solo

A new-school place, Truth focuses on brisket. And the Brenham-based spot is undeniably popular—the line usually extends out the door at the Washington Ave joint. While the brisket is certainly moist, it lacks the flavor or smokiness that other BBQ joints have mastered. But not all of Truth’s dishes fall short—the smoked turkey is expertly seasoned and the smokiness of the baked beans makes us feel like true cowboys. The best way to enjoy Truth is to come early (before they sell out) with turkey in mind and a sweet tooth for a slice of massive carrot cake.

The Bellaire barbecue joint Blood Bros. BBQ always has a rotating menu of daily specials, with standouts like brisket fried rice and burnt pork belly ends with a peach habanero compote. The meat here is sold by the pound with the sides playing the role of a dutiful teammate—especially the mac and cheese. And while we appreciate the inventiveness, Blood Bros. long menu can be a little overwhelming, especially with new dishes popping up daily, so come laser-focused with an order strategy ahead of time.

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