photo credit: Richard Casteel

Gatlin's BBQ review image

Gatlin's BBQ


3510 Ella Blvd, Houston
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

In a Garden Oaks strip mall, you’ll find some great barbecue and a whole lot of charm. At any point, you’ll see Mama Gatlin tending to the front counter, dropping food at tables, cracking jokes with regulars, and somehow finding time to help people bring their leftovers to their cars. You come to Gatlin’s BBQ for consistent, juicy barbecue, Southern-style sides, and an atmosphere that makes you feel like you stumbled into a kind neighbor's cookout.

As with any good barbecue spot, you’re greeted first and foremost with the smell of smoked meat coming from the kitchen. On the weekends, there can be a bit of a line, but that gives you plenty of time to strategize which meat and sides will make up your three-meat plate. Whatever your combination is, make sure it includes the brisket that all but shimmers on your tray. We like the smoked traditional pork sausage as well. And then there are the sides, most of which are Southern comfort staples like crispy fried okra, sweet candied yams, and creamy macaroni and cheese. Gatlin’s also serves massive sandwiches with thick-cut meat that are big enough to share.

Gatlin's BBQ review image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

In addition to having the congeniality of small-town mayoral candidates, the staff also manages to keep the restaurant flowing with ease. They glide from table to table, asking folks how their meals are as they clear the remnants of meat platters and give their personal suggestions on what to order the next time you come (because if you live in Houston, you will be back).

Once you’ve been to Gatlin’s, you’ll understand why there’s a loyal crowd of lunch regulars during the week and an ever-present line on the weekends. Any time they’re open, you can expect dependably good barbecue made with a heart that a modest strip mall can barely contain.

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Food Rundown

Gatlin's BBQ review image

photo credit: Richard Casteel


The brisket here passes the J-S-T test (it’s juicy, smoky, and tender) and still has a crispy bark on the outside. It’s on almost everyone’s tray at Gatlin’s, and for good reason. To get the most of the experience, get the lean and moist mix.

Gatlin's BBQ review image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Traditional Sausage

Gatlin’s serves multiple kinds of sausages with a good snap, including our favorite, the traditional pork, loaded with bits of roasted pepper and onions for a touch of sweetness.

Gatlin's BBQ review image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Chicken Wings

After the BBQ meats, the chicken wings at Gatlin’s are a must-have for your tray. The meat is succulent and the skin is a crispy delight. The original wings come dressed in Gatlin’s house BBQ sauce which is spicy, sweet, and has a dash of vinegar.

Gatlin's BBQ review image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Turkey And Pastrami On Rye Sandwich

We haven’t quite figured out how to eat this mammoth sandwich without unhinging our jaws, but we will keep trying for this smoked meat collaboration.

Gatlin's BBQ review image

photo credit: Richard Casteel


Gatlin’s doesn’t skimp on the sides to accompany their smoked meats. In addition to the staple barbecue sides like coleslaw and potato salad, there’s also a good amount of Southern-style sides. At the very least, the crispy fried okra, creamy smoked corn, and syrupy candied yams should make it to your table.

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