Houston is home to some really good barbecue. At least, that's the opinion of Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, who included four Houston-area barbecue restaurants on his list of the Top 25 New and Improved BBQ Joints in Texas.
Pappa Charlies Barbeque, which recently opened a brick and mortar restaurant in EaDo, joins Briargrove restaurant Rogels Barbecue Co, Southern Q BBQ in north Houston and, of course, Killen's Barbecue in Pearland as the the Houston area representatives on the list. While Vaughn concedes he has a "fondness" for Houston, he calls Austin "the greatest city for barbecue in the world," which is reflected in the five restaurants on the list. Dallas and Fort Worth land two each.
Vaughn published his list as a sort of intermediary step between the magazine's quinquennial list of the state's Top 50 barbecue spots. Since the next edition won't come out until 2017, the time is right to give some attention to worthy newcomers.
"In my travels, one thing has become obvious: there are more good barbecue joints opening now than ever before. It’s getting harder to find a bad meal out there, and that’s something worth celebrating," he writes. "Rather than wait another two years, we decided to highlight these hard-working and talented pitmasters that have opened joints since our last list came out, as well as a few others that took us a little longer to find."
How the newcomers fit in with classics like Louie Mueller Barbecue or Snow's BBQ remains to be seen. Obviously, Killen's will have a spot in the new top 50 — maybe even in the ultra-prestigious top five, but the rest will depend on their ability to sustain or even improve on what they've already achieved.
Still, the list confirms something Houstonians have already come to realize. The city is a rising barbecue star, and that isn't going away.