Q – Houston, TX

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Name
: Q
Date: 4/6/18
Address: Terminal E International Departures (Upper Level), Houston, TX 77032
Order: Smoked Sausage and Brisket combo with coleslaw (link to menu)
Price: $17

MonkIdeally, my first taste of barbecue on a Texas trip wouldn’t be airport barbecue. But the newish Q, a Texas BBQ Smokehouse collaboration with famed Houston pitmaster Greg Gatlin, is far more authentic than your average airport barbecue restaurant. Instead of smoking offsite and trucking it in daily, they have two onsite Oyler smokers with a fancy ventilation system that they are able to keep going 24 hours a day.

Now, I know what you might be thinking – did Monk route his flight to Austin through Houston just for barbecue? While I appreciate that you might have thought that, it wasn’t so pre-planned as that. While Mrs. Monk’s flight was paid for by her job (the impetus for this trip), I went a cheaper route which included a layover and it just so happened to have a stop in Houston. I honestly didn’t realize what was where I was passing through until the morning of my flight, but luckily my 2 ½ layover would allow me plenty of time to check it out once I got to Houston.

If you are not ordering your ‘cue to take back to your gate or onto your plane to taunt your fellow travelers, there is both bar seating and some high top tables around the backside of the to-go counter and kitchen. This being a fancy OTG restaurant, I ordered via iPad at the bar and the food was brought out shortly after.

And my first taste of brisket in Texas in nearly 6 years at an airport joint was…not actually bad at all! The smaller brisket slices (the two meats totaled ½ lb total) had the peppery bark I would expect and was not the least bit dried out. Guess they have started to get the hang of those Oylers.

The all beef sausage passed muster as well, and had a nice little kick to it due to jalapeños. I’m sure there are better sausages out there, but this wasn’t half bad at all. In trying to keep it light, I opted for just one side and ordered the coleslaw which was standard.

When passing through Houston, you could do a lot worse than finding yourself at Q near gate 2 at Terminal E (just follow your nose to smell of smoke). Despite my first barbecue meal of this trip being in an airport, my Texas trip was off to a good start.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

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Linkdown: 4/18/18

– So Aaron Franklin doesn’t actually eat Texas barbecue and might actually prefer Carolina barbecue?

“I don’t really know. I don’t eat barbecue,” he says. I laugh nervously, but Franklin doesn’t waver. “I don’t eat that stuff, but I love to cook it. If I’m in a special place like up in the Carolinas hanging out with Sam Jones (whose family has been in the BBQ biz for more than 70 years), I’m absolutely going to get a pork sandwich. If I’m hanging out with Rodney Scott (a world-renowned BBQ chef from Charleston), I’m absolutely going to get some of that pulled pork. Time and place, but as far as scenes and stuff, I don’t really keep up with it. My concentration is right here.”

– Austin 360’s response: On Carolina Barbecue and Aaron Franklin’s Texas cred

– The Houston BBQ Festival was last weekend and The Smoking Ho has photos

– WNCT continues their Hidden Gems Barbecue series with Hardison’s Carolina Barbecue in Jamesville

– High Point gets an Indian barbecue restaurant, BBQ Nation

– Travel Noire’s 19 Great Black Owned Barbecue Joints Across America includes a few Barbecue Bros faves

– Tarheel Q gets a write up in the Lexington Dispatch after changing owners last December

Leon said there is some pressure with running a barbecue restaurant in Davidson County due to the county’s barbecue reputation. He added that if the restaurant does a poor job, it not only reflects on the restaurant but the other restaurants as well, because Lexington barbecue is a style and one restaurant’s success means success for the others in the county.

– OH NO

Linkdown: 4/11/18

– The brisket bandits in St. Louis have been caught

– Texas Pete, a NC barbecue staple, gets a mention in this Eat Sip Trip article on the origins of hot sauce

Garner Foods of North Carolina was seeking to augment their barbecue sauce line and introduced a red pepper Louisiana-style hot sauce in 1929, which they named Texas Pete, to capitalize on the popularity of cowboy movies at the time. The product is a Carolina staple. According to food author Robert Moss, at the legendary Skylight Inn Barbecue in Ayden, NC, “They douse the pork with vinegar and Texas Pete while it’s still being chopped.”

– The Hub City Hog Fest took place in Spartanburg last weekend, where more than 40 teams from the Carolinas and Georgia participated in the two-day competition

– I checked this place out on a layover to Austin from Charlotte and I will have similarly good things to say when the review posts in a few weeks

– Luella’s Bar-B-Que in Asheville gets featured on Cooking Channel’s “Cheap Eats” episode on Asheville which first airs tonight at 11pm

– WNCT in eastern NC profiles Morris Barbecue, which has only opened on Saturdays in Greene County since the 1950’s, in their latest People and Places segment

– Sam Jones, Ed and Ryan Mitchell, and Rodney Scott (among others) will be back at this year’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

– Oof:

 

Killen’s Barbecue – Pearland, TX

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Name
: Killen’s Barbecue
Date: 1/20/18
Address: 3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, TX
Order: ½ pound brisket, ½ pound burnt ends (special), 2 sausage links, 1 beef rib, mac & cheese, fried mac & cheese, onion rings, baked beans, green beans (link to menu)
Price: $90

Speedy: I was down in Houston to visit some friends lately, so of course I convinced everyone to pop over to Killen’s, which is known as one of the top joints in Houston. Killen’s is a bit outside of Houston proper, and we went on a rainy day. All this meant we were left with a short line (though it quickly grew as the weather started to clear). Walking up, I could smell the wood coals burning and got a whiff of some beef on the smoker, so I immediately knew I was somewhere serious.

Monk: Seems like you stumbled onto the perfect time to check out Killen’s, seeing as how I’ve been reading about the long lines there for years. Brilliant, Speedy. Brilliant.

Rudy: Killen’s has been on my must-eat list for a while.  I’ve heard great things about since it opened. Houston is not known for having high quality barbecue like some of the other areas of the state, so I know this place has been getting swamped with people. Since I almost never get down to Houston, I haven’t been able to eat there.

Speedy: Killen’s is cafeteria style, where you first order meat, cut right in front of you, and then sides. One of the guys I was with had been there before and advised to skip the pulled pork, so we went all beef, with the exception of the sausage, which is a pork and beef mix. At Killen’s, you can order plates, or by the weight, and we opted for the latter. They only needed two clarifications with our order – fatty or lean brisket (fatty, duh), and jalapeno sausage or regular (regular). After about 20 minutes in line, we were ready to eat.

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Like at any Texas joint, I started with the brisket. I had high expectations based on my prior Texas trip (when I visited Franklin’s and La Barbecue), and let me tell you, this lived up to expectations. The brisket was peppery, moist, and as good as I could have imagined. I think it was 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue, and tasted very similar. I did not use any sauce, as none was needed. Overall, nearly flawless execution.

Monk: Wow, 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue? That’s high praise!

Rudy: Yeah, that is huge praise! Add to that the 20 minute wait and that’s even better.

Speedy: The sausage was also great. Made in house, the casing had good snap and a nice spiciness to it. It did start to fall apart a bit, but overall, it was great and is not to be missed.

The burnt ends were a daily special – made with wagyu beef and covered in sauce, they were tender and perfectly chunked. Overall, there was a little more sauce than I liked, but it was tangy and good.

The beef rib was the only thing that I thought could have been better. The rib was crazy tender and easy to cut with a plastic knife, but the bark was not as good as I had hoped and did not touch the brisket. Our beef rib was 1.4 pounds, so nearly $30 – I would have much preferred another pound of brisket.

The sides were good, but like any good barbecue joint, they were a compliment and did not stand out in any way.

I also really liked the atmosphere at Killen’s, as there was a large area of outside seating and lots of seating inside. It’s the definition of a Texas joint, and though it’s only been open since 2013, it’s damn good and not to be missed if you’re in the Houston area. I, for one, can’t wait to go back.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Beef Rib – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 4.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Killen's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 10/18/17

– The Barbecue Festival is next weekend and here are the deets

 

– The updated Thrillist list of best barbecue in America contains 4 joints from NC, including a newer joint that only opened in the past couple of years

– The Eastern Carolina BBQ Throwdown threw down in Rocky Mount last weekend

– The Tour De Pig, a precursor event to the Barbecue Festival in Lexington later this month, was also this past weekend

– Next time you are in Houston:

– Missed this a few weeks back, but a fire at Swig & Swine West Ashley in Charleston caused it to close for a few weeks; as of this post it was scheduled to open by now but no word on whether it has yet

– Archibald’s in Northport, AL recently had a fire as well but is fine

– Heading to the NC State Fair this month? For the first time you can try beer and wine, including Birdsong

Linkdown: 9/13/17

RIP to the original Riverside location of 12 Bones; it is survived by the Arden location and a new Riverside location down the street coming in January 2018

Operation BBQ Relief has been helping out for weeks for Harvey and is now live for Irma

– I’ve never been here but its unfortunate when a joint open this long closes: Lewis’ Barbecue (not to be confused with the Texas joint in Charleston by John Lewis), a 70 year old barbecue restaurant in Clinton has closed

Shots fired at NC barbecue from a San Antonio journalist

Several years ago, a free afternoon during a work-related trip to North Carolina called for an obvious mission: Seek out the finest examples of the barbecue the locals hailed as the world’s best, and gorge accordingly.

But upon completion of this task, which unfortunately involved the ingestion of sad piles of shredded pork doused in a sauce consisting primarily of vinegar, one question lingered over the entire experience.

How can a state love something so much and yet still be so bad at it?

– Per Stacy Franklin, Franklin Barbecue is “hoping to open in the next two weeks” from a Texas BBQ Posse post from 9/7

– More Texas: Goode Co. BBQ in Houston (a joint that helped influence the Charlotte restaurant Midwood Smokehouse) celebrated 40 years of being open recently

– Matthew Odam recently unearthed a series of barbecue reviews from 1978 from recently passed Austin columnist John Kelso

– Always good to refresh the ol’ knowledge tank

Linkdown: 8/30/17

– Thinking of Houston in the wake of Harvey

– In drier times (hopefully coming soon), could whole hog barbecue succeed in Houston?

– Glad to hear that the smokers at Franklin Barbecue made it through the smokehouse fire

– Art’s Barbecue and Deli and Bar-B-Q King make Charlotte Five’s list of 10 classic Charlotte restaurants you must try

– A barbecue-focused episode of House of Carbs this week talks Texas barbecue and Charleston as a barbecue capital

– Buxton Hall evening pitmaster David Phelps gets a mention in this article on third shift workers in Asheville

After coming in around 10 p.m., he spends the first two hours prepping the next day’s sauces and green beans. As he chops and mixes, Phelps is also building the fire up to the required temperature (225 degrees), in order to cook the two pigs nightly. By sunrise, he generally has around 350 to 400 pounds of pulled pork ready for the day crew.

– Buxton Hall’s also got great fried chicken too

– LOL

 

Linkdown: 4/12/17

– Robert Moss on “The Tyranny of Texas Barbecue”

– …and TMBBQ with the retort; claims that Moss is “jealous of neighbor’s popularity”

– The 15 pitmasters for the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party have been announced; Sam Jones and Rodney Scott represent the Carolinas

– Cuegrass ’17 takes over Davie Street in front of the Pit this Saturday for a day of barbecue, beer, and bluegrass

– Henry’s Smokehouse and the Greenville BBQ Trail Tour are in this Charlotte Five article on what to do in the SC town about 1hr 40 minutes away from Charlotte

– BBQ Hub also has a Charleston barbecue tour for the burgeoning barbecue capital

– Marie, Let’s Eat! is pleasantly surprised by some barbecue in Pigeon Forge from Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

– The Smoking Ho went to the Houston BBQ Festival last weekend and took some great photos

– Wayne Mueller BBQ is eyeing a Houston-area location for expansion

– Don’t forget about the fried chicken

Linkdown: 2/1/17

– The Brick Pit in Mobile, AL gets a second life thanks to a Facebook post

– Marie, Let’s Eat! visits Mike’s Smokehouse in Chattanooga, which is among the better barbecue joints in the area

– In case you might be doing some brisket smoking for the Super Bowl

– I love Robert Jacob Lerma’s barbecue photography

– An older article where Robert Moss picks SC’s most underrated barbecue

– If you’re ever laid over in the Houston airport, it might be a good idea to head to Gatlin’s Q

– Put your barbecue knowledge to the test (I got 80/100)