Sunday, May 3, 2015

On The Side: 3rd Annual Houston BBQ Festival

The 3rd Annual Houston BBQ Festival went down this past weekend with 23 (mostly) local BBQ joints represented.  It was a great lineup; both in the list of vendors and in the variety of meats offered at each booth.  There were a number of spots on my “To Do” List present on Sunday.  In fact, there were 10 places that I had not yet tried in attendance compared to just 2 at the most recent TMBBQ Fest. It was a nice cross section of the Houston BBQ scene and I was excited to get started on Sunday.  I do not think events like this offer a fair representation of a given joint for a number of reasons.  However, the spots on my “To Do” List like Roegels Barbecue Co. more than justified their being on my list.

Of all meats, I think Houston’s strongest tradition is in the pork rib.  However, Sunday’s efforts were clearly focused on the other meats as I found just seven pork ribs on the roster at the festival.  Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue's legendary ribs were among my favorites of the day.  Pork was on display in several different ways, but the buzz of the festival was about Feges BBQ's extraordinary effort in building a burn barrel and hog cooker for their whole hog.  Pork was pulled directly from the hog at their booth and was served with Carolina mustard and vinegar.  It was most impressive.  Pulled pork was on display at the Tennessee influenced Fainmous BBQ along with The Wooden Spoke and Gatlin's BBQGerardo’s and El Burro & The Bull both chose tacos as their method of delivering some delicious smoked carnitas.  Corkscrew BBQ went a bit off script with their pork belly and boudin stuffed pork loin.  I was surprised that Corkscrew did not bring any of their more renowned meats, but you can’t argue with the delicious choices they brought.

There was plenty of good brisket to go around and I think Brooks’ Place, Blood Bros. BBQ and Pinkerton’s BBQ were among my favorites.  Five spots were serving up some tasty beef ribs with Killen’s Barbecue handing out whole beef ribs at one point.  Killen’s burnt ends may have been the best thing I tasted all day.  Gerardo’s had a second taco at their booth featuring barbacoa.  Tin Roof BBQ boldly served chopped beef from their prime spot near the entrance.

Sausage was widely available.  Southside Market & Barbecue brought their famed sausage and offered three different varieties at their booth.  Ray’s BBQ Shack had a nice combo of their interesting sausage along with some boudin.  The Wooden Spoke also brought boudin and I thought it was their best meat.  My favorite sausage of the day may have been courtesy of newcomer, Pinkerton’s Barbecue.

Lamb was another barnyard friend that was served at the Houston BBQ Fest.  Pappa Charlies Barbeque had a well crafted lamb slider option and Louie Mueller Barbecue brought their fan favorite lamb lollipops.

A variety of birds rounded out the field.  Fainmous BBQ had their pulled chicken, Oak Leaf Smokehouse featured smoked duck, and Pappa Charlies served up some smoky turkey.

Even the sides were well represented.  El Burro & the Bull’s attempt to healthy us up with a kale salad with pear cider vinaigrette was appreciated and delicious.  Spring Creek Barbeque passed around jalapeno poppers; I appreciated the food coming to me for a change.  Pinkerton’s jalapeno rice was a treat.  Ray’s offered deep fried corn on the cob.  My favorite sides came from Oak Leaf Smokehouse who provided fried Mac N’ Cheese Brisket Balls along with some tasty corn pudding.

It is no surprise that Killen’s and Louie Mueller consistently drew the longest lines of the day.  Louie Mueller’s claims to have gone through 2000 servings of brisket, 2000 servings of beef ribs and 1500 lamb lollipops.  Corkscrew and Gatlin’s were the other two spots with noticeably lengthy lines.

The Houston BBQ Fest spoke loud and clear about the barbecue scene in the Bayou City.  Like the city itself, Houston barbecue pulls from many different cultures.  Houston showed that they could do just about any meat you can think of and they did it all well.

The other story of Houston BBQ Fest was the respect that this city’s pitmasters have for each other.  The stories that came out of the days and night leading up to the festival were those of camaraderie and appreciation.  They are all on the same mission to bring good barbecue to the city and together they’ve forged quite the barbecue scene in Houston.

My hat goes off to all of those involved in this year’s Houston BBQ Fest.  It was a well planned and well executed event.  It was a thrill to celebrate Houston’s barbecue culture with fellow Houstonians and with the top pit masters representing our city.  It’s even more exciting to know that the barbecue scene in Houston is still growing.

A look at the 2015 Houston BBQ Festival
It was a great day to celebrate Houston BBQ at the 2015 Hou BBQ Fest
Feges BBQ pulled from a whole hog at the Houston BBQ Festival
The Whole Hog at Feges BBQ
Nine separate sampled of meat from the 2015 Houston BBQ Festival
A sampling of barbecue at HOU BBQ Fest
The crew from Blood Bros. BBQ at Houston BBQ Festival
The crew from Blood Bros. BBQ
Pinkerton's booth at Houston BBQ Festival
Grant Pinkerton repping Screwston with the DJ Screw shirt
A trayful of meat at Houston BBQ Festival
Another sampling of Houston's finest meats.
Slicing meats at the Corkscrew BBQ booth.
Will & Nichole slicing up their unique selections at the Corkscrew booth
Killen's Barbecue at the 2015 Houston BBQ Festival
Ronnie and the crew from Killen's Barbecue
Gatlin's BBQ at the Houston BBQ Festival
Ribs and Sausage on the cutting board at Gatlin's
Blood Bros BBQ represents at the 2015 Houston BBQ Festival
Representing Alief at the Houston BBQ Festival
Another serving of meats at Houston BBQ Fest
Another serving of meats at the 2015 Houston BBQ Festival
The Brisket House booth at Houston BBQ Festival
Prepping the selections at The Brisket House
Music from the Houston BBQ Festival
Music from the Saint Arnold Stage set the vibe for a lively event

0 comments:

Post a Comment



*All Grades Are Based Solely on the Quality of Texas BBQ Offered at the Joint. We Aren't Looking for Burgers or Catfish!

My Grading Scale:


A = This is some of the finest BBQ you'll find anywhere. It is worth a roadtrip in itself along with any required wait.
B = This is very good BBQ, even if it is over an hour away, consider making the drive.
C = This is just average BBQ but it's worth a stop in a pinch.
D = This is a poor example of Texas BBQ. Even if it's the only place around, skip it. Apologize to any non-Texans that have eaten here.
F = This is not only a bad Texas BBQ, it is probably not suitable for human consumption.

 
BBQ Reviews, Barbecue, Barbeque, Texas BBQ, "Best BBQ in Texas", Best BBQ in Metroplex, Best BBQ in Austin, Brisket, Sausage, Ribs, Pork Ribs, Beef Ribs, "Best Brisket", Barbecue Blog, Barbecue Rating, Lockhart, Luling, Smoked Meat, Smoked Ribs, Smoke...Hey! Stop reading this!