Dinner at Killen's

Houston's best barbecue joint begins dinner service and looks for a second location

Houston's best barbecue joint begins dinner service, expands menu

Killen's Barbecue Food Network
Killen's Barbecue will be available for dinner starting next week. Photo by Kimberly Park

By any measure, Killen’s Barbecue has become one of the Houston area’s most successful restaurants. In just under three years of operations, Ronnie Killen’s Pearland barbecue joint has earned national acclaim from the Food Network, spawned a satellite location at NRG Stadium, and sustained consistently long lines of diners who want to eat its food.

Of course, those long lines present a problem for anyone who works a regular 8 am to 6 pm job and can’t give up two or three hours on a weekend to wait for barbecue. Short of attending a nighttime event like The Big Texas Party (sponsored by CultureMap, ESPN Radio, and SB Nation), some people wouldn’t be able to sample the city’s best barbecue.

“You can’t believe the response I get from people who say the line is too long and we don’t have the time on the weekends to wait,” Killen tells CultureMap.

To satisfy that demand, Killen’s Barbecue will add dinner service beginning January 19. The restaurant has increased its capacity by adding a second wood-fired rotisserie smoker. Any leftover meat will be used in dishes like the short rib tamales at Killen’s STQ or the brisket-topped barbecue burger at Killen’s Burgers.

In addition to the familiar brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and other meats that are on the barbecue joint’s daily menu, Killen will make a couple of key additions for dinner, starting with the chicken fried steak that’s currently only available as a special on Tuesdays. The chef also plans to expand the menu by adding a few steaks and chops as entrees.

“We already have a wood-burning grill that we bought for the barbecue place a long time ago,” Killen says. “We could have steaks, we could have pork chops, stuff like that. People who want to have a steak at our steakhouse but it’s too expensive for them, we could give them a steak here.”

Now, just to be clear, the steaks served during dinner at Killen’s Barbecue won’t be the USDA Prime specimens served at Killen’s Steakhouse. Instead, they’ll be a more affordable Certified Angus Beef that grades as USDA Choice, which is the same quality of meat that’s served at places like Taste of Texas.

“It would be more like Perry’s used to be in Friendswood. We’re going to try to cater to the people who are coming in,” Killen says. “We already have steak knives here. Why not use them?”

One other benefit of adding dinner is that it will require Killen to train a new crew, and those cooks could eventually staff a second barbecue location. Killen says he’s been considering options in Sugar Land, Katy, and even inside the loop.

“I’ve got a couple places I’m looking at, but to me it’s going to be more about the building,” the chef says. “I want an old building that we’re able to redo. There’s a couple locations that I don’t want to say I’ve been talking to, because that could get someone in trouble.”

But that’s all in the future. For now, being able to eat Killen’s barbecue, chicken fried steak, and other dishes at dinner will be plenty good enough.