Barbecue Update

Flood-delayed barbecue joint finds 2 new homes for espresso ribs and cheesy squash

Flood-delayed barbecue joint finds 2 new homes for espresso ribs

Jim Buchanan Buck's Barbeque
Jim Buchanan has two new outposts for Buck's Barbecue Co.  Photo by Eric Sandler

Although Jim Buchanan’s plans to open Buck’s Barbeque Co. at the White Oak Biergarten (formerly Lucky’s Pub in the Heights) have been put on hold by Harvey’s floodwaters, the U.S. Army vet and former Pappa Charlies partner still wants to serve his barbecue to hungry Houstonians. After a series of pop-ups at places like Great Heights Brewing and The New Potato, Buchanan has found two semi-permanent homes for his creative twists on traditional central Texas-style barbecue.

Beginning this weekend, barbecue fans will be able to find Buck’s at 8th Wonder Brewery on Saturdays, from 11 am to 8 pm, and at the Frio Hill Country Grill in Cypress on Sundays, from 4 pm to 9 pm. Buchanan will serve a selection of barbecue and sides at 8th Wonder, while the Frio’s kitchen will allow him to expand the menu with some of the items he had planned for Lucky’s, like the Blasted Bird (smoked turkey, cheese, and bourbon-cranberry sauce) and Pulled Pork Banh Mi sandwiches.

Both Lucky’s Pub and the Frio Grill share the same owners, which made it a natural fit. Set on a sprawling five-acre lot, Buchanan compares the Frio’s setting to the legendary Gristmill restaurant in Gruene. He plans for the Frio pop-up to run for the next month or so. If it’s well-received, Buck’s could serve barbecue there full-time.

“The Lucky’s guys are very, very supportive,” Buchanan said. “They know they’ve got something. They’re trying to figure out how to capitalize their relationship with me.”

Since starting the pop-ups, Buchanan says he’s been able to refine his techniques to ensure that items like his espresso-crusted pork ribs and hot-and-fast brisket are consistently well executed. He’s also expanded his side dishes by introducing John Mueller’s signature cheesy squash — with the the famously curmudgeonly pitmaster’s blessing.

Although Buchanan says he still aspires to open in the Heights — assuming FEMA and the building’s landlord can come to an agreement on a payment for remediation — the new opportunities and positive word of mouth for Buck’s are highly encouraging.

“I’m happy,” Buchanan says. “I’d much rather be inside a brick and mortar, but I’m happy doing what I’m doing.”