Texas barbecue is made up of many different styles, and Houston offers the most diverse collection of styles in any American city. In the last ten years, the craft barbecue movement has introduced artisanal techniques and high-quality ingredients to the Texas barbecue tradition. You can filter by style to see all the different types in Houston.

Central Texas-style (CTX): Mainly beef brisket served without sauce, this style originated in the early 1900s in the towns around Austin. Often considered the canonical style of Texas barbecue. The main style used in the craft barbecue movement.

East Texas-style (ETX): This is the style that Houston is most-often identified with, featuring pork-based ‘Q often served with a sweet, tomato-based sauce. These traditions and influences are traced to migration to East Texas from the Southern U.S. in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Combination: As the craft barbecue movement gained hold in Houston in the early 2000s, a combination-style barbecue developed combining the best of CTX (e.g. salt-and-pepper brisket) with the best of ETX (e.g. wet-rub pork ribs, smoked boudin).

Creative/Elevated: With the rise of craft barbecue, techniques and ingredients from fine-dining began to be introduced into Texas barbecue traditions, often by classically trained chefs trying their luck at the barbecue game.

Tex-Mex-Influenced: Houston’s long tradition as a bastion of Tex-Mex cuisine has seen an overlap with craft barbecue, with dishes like tacos and enchiladas taking on a smoked element.

Asian-Influenced: The huge community of Asian chefs and restaurateurs has become influential in Houston barbecue recently, incorporating complementary flavors like Korean gochujang sauce.

Old-School: There are many Houston barbecue joints that existed before and will exist after the rise of the craft barbecue movement and use older techniques (less seasoning, less smoke) to make barbecue. They are still widely popular among many Houston diners.

Generic: Some places don’t adhere to any specific style or tradition, but rather just want to put meat in a smoker and make it taste good. These are often family businesses that just want to make a living, not make the headlines.

East Tennessee-style: Houston will occasionally get an outlier among barbecue styles, often from the Southern U.S., including this area of Tennessee that is known for pulled-and-sauced pork shoulder.

Houston is a big place and you could drive up to 1.5 hours from one end of the city to the other to get to a far-flung barbecue joint. When choosing a barbecue joint to patronize, proximity is often an important or deciding factor. This filter allows you to see barbecue joints based on location, from a broad area (e.g. North) to specific neighborhoods (e.g. Montrose).

There’s nothing worse than heading out to your favorite barbecue joint with friends and finding it closed when you arrive. For various cultural (closed on Sundays for church) and practical (closed on Mondays to clean pits) reasons, the opening days for barbecue joints can be less consistent than other restaurants. Being able to see which barbecue joints are open on a particular day of the week is crucial. This is the filter for that.

HOUBBQ joints come in all shapes and sizes, from Stand-Alone buildings and grand palaces of barbecue, to a small corner of a Brewery or Shopping Center. Many enterprising pitmasters get their start in a food Truck/Trailer (only those with a permanent location are listed here). More recently, having a booth in a Food Hall is also a way to get started. Occasionally, you will find a barbecue counter in a Food Market – a throwback to the old days of barbecue served in meat markets.  And Houston has a long history of barbecue joints located (perhaps incongruously) next door to a Gas Station.

This guide is notable in that it does not use a rating system (either user or editor generated) to recommend barbecue joints. Rather it is a curated list of those barbecue joints that we believe represent the essence of Houston barbecue. To be sure, if you visit any of the places in this guide you will get great barbecue. But it is still useful to keep track of those places the barbecue glitterati consider the latest and greatest. This filter allows you to see which HOUBBQ joints have been awarded with “Best Barbecue” accolades from various events and publications.

This being Texas, barbecue catering is a big business. It’s standard for a wedding to have a big barbecue spread to impress out-of-town friends-and-family. One of the most frequent questions we get is “Who would be good to cater my wedding/meeting/social event?” This guide will provide more in-depth information to find that answer, whether you just want to Pick up a tray of barbecue to take to your event, have that tray Delivered to your location, or have a Full Service catering job done with serving staff and all the bells and whistles.

The type of smoker used by a pitmaster will often provide clues to their style of barbecue and commitment to the hard work necessary to make great barbecue. In general, the best barbecue is created using manual, rather than automated, techniques. Manual pits put the “craft” in craft barbecue.

Offset steel barrel pits are the Ferraris of barbecue pits – they are high-performance appliances that, if properly operated, produce the best results. A firebox sits on one side (offset) of the tubular cooking chamber where the meat is placed, and then a flue or chimney on the other end draws the smoke and heat through the chamber, cooking the meat. Barbecue joints that use these types of pits are commited to the most traditional techniques of making great barbecue. Also known as “stick burners” because they use full logs of wood.

Offset brick pits are similar to barrel pits, but the cooking chamber is a rectangular box made of brick. It’s rare to see these built today, but many old-school joints still use them. Pitmasters who have mastered cooking on this type of pit are considered the most skilled of barbecue cooks. 

Rotisserie pits are self-enclosed cabinets with a firebox on the bottom or side, a cooking chamber above, with the smoke exiting the top. Wire racks rotate in the cooking chamber to evenly cook the meat. Though automated, the best pits like Oylers can still produce world-class barbecue, especially if they only use wood for the fuel source, rather than natural gas.

Direct heat pits have the fire directly under the meat so that the cooking process is more like grilling rather than smoking.

Cabinet/Upright pits have the firebox on the bottom, cooking chamber in the middle and chimney on top. They are often used where space is limited. They also require a lot of manual technique, though some come with automated functions.

Pellet pits are relatively new to commercial barbecue and are almost fully automated, using compressed wood pellets as the fuel source. Though they can be used to make well-cooked meat, they inevitably do not provide a high level of smoke flavor that defines Texas barbecue.

The wood used at a barbecue joint is the determining factor of the smoked meat flavor. All wood used for barbecue is hardwood, which burns with an intense and relatively long-lasting fire that can be more easily maintained for heat and flavor purposes. 

Oak wood, in all its varieties (red, white, post, etc), is the wood of choice for Texas barbecue thanks to its plentiful availability and, more importantly, mild flavor that pairs well with meat, especially beef. 

Hickory has a more robust flavor and is often associated with barbecue of the Southern U.S., but there are still some old-school barbecue joints in Texas that still use it.

Mesquite is a wood originating in south and west Texas and imparts a potentially bitter flavor to meat. Experienced pitmasters can create a palatable flavor profile; inexperienced pitmasters, not so much.

Pecan is similar to oak in its cooking properties, but with a milder flavor. It’s rare that a barbecue joint only uses pecan, but will rather mix it in with oak. It is sometimes used by itself to cook and flavor pork or even fish. 

In the olden days, barbecue was mostly a lunchtime affair. Even today, many barbecue joints are just open for Lunch until they sell out. In effect they are just open long enough to sell all the barbecue they can make given the constraints of smoker size and the amount of meat they can cook. Still, Texans want barbecue all day, and some restaurants have extra pit capacity or they cook in multiple batches around the clock to have food for Dinner. Recently, since staff are onsite early to maintain the smokers, they’ve also opened for Breakfast. Any meat left over from the previous day can be chopped up and added to breakfast tacos, making it even more cost-effective. You’ll even occasionally find a barbecue joint serving a weekend Brunch.

Everyone knows that barbecue goes with Beer, and most joints at least offer this alcoholic option. Also worth noting that the craft beer movement has many parallels to the craft barbecue movement. It’s a natural pairing. However some new barbecue joints offer a full bar that includes Wine and Liquor. Indeed, pairing wine or cocktails with barbecue is a new trend. 

Drinks

These are specific, practical requirements that will help you choose a great barbecue joint for your needs.

Easy Parking: Sometimes you just don’t want to have to drive around the block to find parking when you are on a quick lunch. This feature just means a barbecue joint has a relatively large, adjacent parking lot where you can always find a spot.

Outdoor Patio: For those cooler days in Houston, these are the places with some type of outdoor seating.

Does Not Sell Out: Many craft barbecue joints can only cook so much barbecue on a daily basis, and run out of barbecue early in the afternoon. Some places cook all day and always have barbecue. This filter allows you to find those places serving barbecue all day.

Table Service: At most barbecue joints, you approach a counter and place the order directly to the pitmaster or cutter, then take your tray to your table. Some barbecue joints offer traditional waiter service too, which is specified by this filter.

Essential Houston: This references those barbecue joints which embody the history and traditions of Houston barbecue.

Good for groups: Taking your co-workers to lunch or have family in town? These places have larger seating areas that can accommodate.

Sausage In-house: Sausage made on-site can be very creative and very delicious and is worth seeking out.

Open Mondays: Traditionally, many smaller barbecue joints close on Mondays for a day off as well as to maintain the smokers. But if you need a barbecue fix on a Monday, this filter will help.

Whole Hog: This tradition from the Southern U.S. of cooking a whole hog and then turning it into dishes like pulled pork is starting to gain hold in Houston and Texas. The places in this filter have it on the menu regularly.

To-Go Counter: The line to get barbecue can get pretty long at some places and all you want is a plate of barbecue to-go. These places have a separate to-go counter where you can get in-and-out fast.

Private Room: These barbecue joints have a separate dining room you can reserve for business meetings or other gatherings.

All-natural beef: Those places which are committed to procuring sustainably produces, antibiotic-free beef.

Open Late: Generally a barbecue joint where you can get most are all of the menu after 8pm.

Curbside: Those places where you can call in an order or place the order online and then show up and have someone bring the order to your car.

Online Ordering: Being able to place your order ahead of time, on a website, that you can either pick up or eat onsite.

Drive-Thru: A typical drive-thru window setup where you can place and pick up your order without getting out of your car.

Counter Cut: Those joints where you place the order with the meat cutter and they cut your meat at the counter right in front of you as you watch.

Features
Results:
Fainmous BBQ
Barbecue influences from outside the Lone Star State are few and far between in Houston, but Jamie & Karen Fain have established this East Tennessee-style joint with outstanding pulled pork dishes.
Mon-Thu 11AM-8PM, Fri-Sat 11AM-9PM
1201 Oliver St #50, Houston, TX 77007
Harlem Road Texas BBQ
Speaking seven different languages and having trained at Swiss culinary academies, Chef Ara Malekian is Houston's global pitmaster bringing the best of classic cooking with Texas barbecue.
Wed-Fri 11AM-8PM, Sat-Sun 11AM-6PM
9823 Harlem Rd, Richmond, TX 77407
Southern Q BBQ
Steve & Sherice Garner started by cooking for friends and family in their backyard, moved on to a food truck, and now run a brick-and-mortar joint making some of the best East Texas-style 'Q in the city.
Sun 11AM-6PM, Wed-Sat 11AM-7PM
411 W Richey Rd, Houston, TX 77090
Truth BBQ
The original Truth BBQ took over an old barbecue joint on the highway between Houston and Austin and quickly became a destination; the Houston location opened in 2019 and is a must-visit for classic CTX 'Q.
Tues-Sun 11AM-5PM or sold out
110 S Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007
Lonestar Sausage & BBQ
Former U. of Houston football star Kevin Mason perfected the art of sausage-making in his kitchen while working as a sheriff deputy; after retiring, he went full time in the barbecue business in 2019.
Tue-Sat 11AM-7PM
13712 Walters Rd Suite #140, Houston, TX 77014
Burns Original BBQ
Roy Burns Sr. sold barbecue by the side of the road in Acres Homes and built that into a neighborhood institution; his sons and grandsons have expanded the business into one of the most popular in the city.
Tue-Thu 10:30AM-6PM, Fri-Sat 10:30AM-6:30PM
8307 De Priest St, Houston, TX 77088
Brett's BBQ Shop
This hole-in-the-wall joint in a small strip center in Katy is helmed by pitmaster Brett Jackson who wrestles a decades-old steel barrel pit ("The Beast") to produce some of the area's best 'Q.
Wed-Sun 11:30AM unitl sold out (usually early-mid afternoon).
606 Mason Rd, Katy, TX 77450
The Pit Room building
Michael Sambrooks brought craft barbecue to the eclectic Montrose neighborhood in 2016, becoming one of the best joints in the state with a similarly eclectic menu of tacos and other dishes.
7 Days, 7-10:30AM (breakfast), 11AM-9PM (lunch/dinner) or sold out
1201 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006
The Brisket House, Deer Park
Populated by oil refineries and chemical plants in cities like Deer Park and Baytown, Houston's far east side was never known for great barbecue until this outpost of The Brisket House opened.
Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM, Sun 11AM-6PM
3217 Center St, Deer Park, TX 77536
Pappa Charlies Barbecue at Cypress Trail Hideout
Wes Jurena started out as a weekend barbecue competitor and is now the in-house barbecue joint at a lively sports bar in Cypress, serving up creative smoked meats he affectionately calls "goofy-cue."
Tue-Wed 11AM-9:30PM, Fri-Sat 11AM-12AM, Sun 11AM-9PM
25610 Hempstead Rd, Cypress, TX 77429
Blood Bros. BBQ owners Quy Hoang and Robin Wong
Brothers Robin & Terry Wong and friend Quy Hoang met in the working class neighborhood of Alief and bring their Vietnamese-American backgrounds to this menu of creative CTX-style barbecue.
Wed-Sun 11AM-3PM or sold out, dinner Thu 6-10PM
5425 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, TX 77401
CorkScrew BBQ sign
Will & Nichole Buckman starting cooking barbecue for family & friends in their backyard in 2010. Now they have a brick-and-mortar location in Old Town Spring and some of the best 'cue in Texas.
Wed-Sat 11am-4pm or sold out
26608 Keith St, Spring, TX 77373
Gatlin's BBQ entrance
Greg Gatlin and family were the first to bring craft barbecue to diners in Houston when they opened in 2010. Chef Michelle Wallace recently joined the team to add comfort food favorites.
Mon-Sat 7AM-6PM
3510 Ella Blvd Bldg C Ste A, Houston, TX 77018
Daddy Duncan’s BBQ
Randy & Sylvia Duncan started out with a small trailer and a dream, eventually making Daddy Duncan's (named after Randy's grandfather) into one of the area's busiest barbecue trucks.
Fri-Sat, 6pm-10pm or sold out
3130 Katy Hockley Cut Off Rd, Katy, TX 77493
Roegels Barbecue Co.
Russell & Misty Roegels literally spent years paying dues as a franchise of a small Dallas-based chain before branching out in 2014, building this cozy and comfortable west-side spot into one of the best in Houston.
Sun-Tue 11AM-3PM, Wed-Sat 11AM-6PM
2223 S Voss Rd, Houston, TX 77057
The Brisket House - Woodway
Wayne Kammerl is one of the original craft-barbecue pitmasters in Houston, opening his original Brisket House location in 2010 as an homage to his early experience at legendary Tom's BBQ in College Station.
Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM, Sun 11AM-6PM
5775 Woodway Dr, Houston, TX 77057
Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue
John & Lela Davis opened the iconic Shepherd Drive Bar-B-Q stand in 1934 and cooked on classic offset brick pits that the current incarnation - Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue - still uses today.
Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM
1703 Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77007
Henderson & Kane
John & Veronica Avila renovated an old meat market building in Houston's historic Sixth Ward into a neighborhood general store/barbecue joint featuring local, artisanal food products and smoked meats.
Mon-Fri 8AM-9PM, Sat 9AM-9PM, Sun 9AM-8PM
715 Henderson St, Houston, TX 77007
Tin Roof BBQ entrance
In 2001 the Webber family bought a plot of land in what would become the center of booming Atascocita and built a sprawling barbecue joint that has become a community gathering place.
Tue-Thurs 11AM-8PM, Fri & Sat 11AM-9PM
18918 Town Center Blvd, Atascocita, TX 77346
Feges BBQ owners Patrick & Erin Feges
Husband-and-wife team of Patrick & Erin Feges both come from fine-dining backgrounds and their classic and creative smoked meats and sides reflect an attention to detail as well as tradition.
Mon-Fri 11AM-2PM
3, Greenway Plaza Suite C-210, Houston, TX 77046
The Brisket House - 1960
This is the 3rd location of Wayne Kammerl's mini-empire of consistently great, Central Texas-style barbecue, strategically located on a busy stretch of FM1960 where great barbecue is few and far between.
Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM, Sun 11AM-6PM
3301 Cypress Creek Pkwy, Houston, TX 77068
Ray's BBQ Shack
In his off duty hours as a deputy sheriff, Ray Busch started cooking barbecue out of a trailer in nightclub parking lots, eventually graduating to a hugely successful brick-and-mortar joint in 2011.
Mon-Sat 11AM-8PM
3929 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, TX 77021
Goode Co. Barbeque - Kirby
Jim Goode revolutionized the business of barbecue when he opened this barbecue joint-meets-ice house on a then-quiet stretch of Kirby Drive in 1977, combining CTX-style barbecue with a Houston flair.
7 days, 11AM-8:30PM
5109 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098
Lenox Bar-B-Q owners Reece and Erik Mrok
In 1949 Leonard McNeill won a neighborhood café in a dice game and turned it into a legendary barbecue joint; today, owner Erik Mrok continues the tradition in this rapidly gentrifying area of the East End.
Mon-Fri 7AM-2PM
5420 Harrisburg Blvd, Houston, TX 77011
Dozier's BBQ brisket
Ed Dozier opened a tiny meat market in the then rural town of Fulshear in 1954; current pitmaster Jim Buchanan is adding new pits and techniques to restore this classic joint to its former glory.
Tue-Sun 11AM-7PM or sold out
8222 FM 359, Fulshear, TX 77441
Killen's Barbecue - Pearland outside
One of the Houston area's most accomplished pitmasters, Ronnie Killen expanded beyond his steakhouse empire to open this classic Central Texas-style barbecue joint in his hometown of Pearland.
Tue-Thu, Sun 11AM-8PM, Fri 11AM-9PM, Sat 11AM-6PM, or sold out
3613 E Broadway St, Pearland, TX 77581
Pinkerton's Barbecue - Houston
Many Houston joints specialize in CTX-style barbecue, but few match the look-and-feel of those Austin-area places like Pinkerton's where classic salt-and-pepper brisket is combined with a full cocktail bar.
Sun 11AM-9PM, , Wed-Thu 11AM-9PM, Fri-Sat 11AM-10PM or sold out
1504 Airline Dr, Houston, TX 77009
Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue
A barbecue joint that offers world-class smoked meats alongside handmade chocolate sounds like the perfect idea, and owners Scott & Greg Moore and Michelle Holland have delivered just that in Old Town Tomball.
Tue-Fri 11AM-6PM, Sat 11AM-5PM or sold out
200 N Elm St, Tomball, TX 77375