22 Popular BBQ Restaurants In Houston, Ranked

Pecan pie and kolaches aren't the only tasty, iconic foods from Texas; it's also home to mouthwatering, beautifully-seasoned barbecue. Although you can find this culinary treasure all across the southern U.S., there's arguably no other region that does it better than the Lone Star State.

The secret? Down south, using dry rubs or spiced marinades for seasoning and cooking the meat low and slow are the best way to go. These techniques have been used for centuries – as far back as the early 1800s – and can be applied to cuts such as beef brisket, pork ribs, and sausage. As a result, Texas BBQ often has an unmistakable, underlying smoky taste – imparted from the charcoal or wood often used to prepare it. The meat also comes out of the pit extremely tender and flavorful.

Being one of the nation's great food cities, Houston is no stranger to Texas-style, delicious smoked meats; you'll likely find a solid barbecue joint in every community. That said, here are some of Space City's most popular BBQ restaurants, ranked.

22. Demeris Bar-B-Q

With two locations in Houston, the family-owned Demeris Bar-B-Q has proudly served the community for nearly 60 years and is currently operated by the founder's grandsons. With so much history in one place, visitors usually walk in expecting to indulge in delicious, mouthwatering, homemade barbecue you won't find anywhere else.

But despite the restaurant's tried and true family recipes, its go-to menu items — particularly the beef brisket — fall short. Customers aren't huge fans of the meat's taste and texture; including it in meals like the baked potato doesn't seem to do it justice either. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the sides, and taste so-so compared to similar restaurants. The establishment continually strives to improve its offerings and amenities for customers and remains a popular spot for your basic BBQ staples. However, there are better options for traditional Texas barbecue around.

21. Waller County Line BBQ

Around the edge of Houston's city limits and attached to a gas station is where you'll find Waller County Line BBQ. While most don't imagine a rest stop would have great food, this eatery's stuffed baked potato will quickly change your mind. The dish is loaded with your choice of chopped or sliced brisket, pulled pork, or regular or jalapeño sausage (we highly recommend getting the brisket), drizzled with the restaurant's homemade BBQ sauce. It's also topped with the usual fixings: melted butter, cheese, chives, bacon bits, and green onion. Trust us when we say it's worth the price; you get a massive serving that you can easily split with someone else.

Unfortunately, although Waller County Line is a popular restaurant for travelers heading into or out of town, its stuffed potato is the only thing it's got going for it. Its other barbecue offerings are subpar compared to the rest of the establishments mentioned here, and reviewers agree.

20. Gabby's BBQ & Catering

Although Texas barbecue tastes better as a dine-in meal than picking it up to go, we can't deny Houstonian's love for Gabby's BBQ & Catering for its convenient drive-thru option. However, that's not the only reason this establishment makes our list; similarly to Waller County Line BBQ, the restaurant is also popular for its loaded baked potato. Listed on the menu as the "Meal 'n a Peel," a one-pound Idaho stuffed with your pick of chopped or sliced beef and topped with the usual fixings.

The Texas BBQ Pie is another fan-favorite Gabby's offers, which adds a spin to traditional frito pie by adding chopped beef and sausage, ranch-style beans, and house-made barbecue sauce. Besides these options, though, the rest of the menu items are a bit on the blander side, and with so many other BBQ spots in the area, you're better off looking elsewhere for a truly satisfying meal.

19. Stockyard Bar BQ

It's not hard to miss Stockyard Bar BQ when you're driving down Westheimer in West Houston. It's an impressive two-story building that gives you rustic, traditional vibes one would expect from a Texas barbecue restaurant. But, unfortunately, this eatery won't have the best beef brisket you'll find in town; customers note that its texture isn't ideal, it's occasionally a little dry, and the portion sizes seem a little unreasonable for the price you pay.

Despite this, some patrons will still order it just to have it with the restaurant's in-house barbecue sauce, which seems to be what really makes the dish work. Visitors enjoy the main course as part of the two-side platter, particularly with the mac and cheese and the Heart Attack Potato (a twice-baked spud casserole).

18. Feges BBQ

Feges BBQ is a popular restaurant for families. It hosts regular "children eat free" specials with events, offers a good variety of kids' meals, and has a small, gated play area outside. Meanwhile, adults can enjoy the establishment's entertainment options.

As far as the fare goes, the brisket and ribs are on the drier side, so most gravitate to the pork belly burnt ends (currently only available at their Greenway Plaza location). They have a complimentary sweet and spicy tang that keeps you coming back for more. If you prefer to play it safe, the baked potato is a decent option. Finally, although brussel sprouts don't immediately come to mind when most think of traditional BBQ fare, we recommend them in addition to the loaded potato mash.

17. Gatlin's BBQ

Gatlin's BBQ is a mom-and-pop that we've previously ranked as one of the best barbecue joints in Texas, so naturally, it deserves mention here too. Although the 'cue from the restaurant is occasionally a little overcooked and dry, it can be tender and flavorful most days.

The brisket is a commonly ordered menu item for the plates, but we highly recommend getting the venison sausage as well. The restaurant's sides are pretty solid, though we think some of the better options include the okra, collard greens, creamed corn, and mac and cheese. Gatlin's offers the usual fixings with your barbecue, including sauce, bread, pickles, and onions, but some customers have claimed that it costs extra if you want an additional serving of these add-ons.

There's usually a line out the door during peak dining hours, and the establishment starts to close once it's out of its prepared BBQ for the day, so definitely go there early, if possible. Gatlin's opens at 7 a.m. every day (excluding when it's closed on Sundays).

16. The Brisket House

Visitors of The Brisket House say that the barbecue is occasionally dry but at least always has flavor, and we can't argue with that. If you stop by and can't decide what to order, we say go for the establishment's namesake menu item, but the ribs and turkey are also solid picks. For the side, definitely get the potato salad; you won't need anything else.

The restaurant's in-house smoker is literally inside the establishment, so if you don't mind the smell, dine there for the full experience. However, some find the odor a little overbearing and bothersome since it easily soaks into your clothes. In other words, don't plan on eating here if you have an important event or meeting to attend immediately after!

15. Burns Original BBQ

Burns Original BBQ has always been a popular Houston staple for good barbecue. But, if someone as renowned in the culinary world as late chef and food personality Anthony Bourdain claims the restaurant makes "some of the best east Texas style BBQ you can find" (via Burns Original BBQ), you can't help but imagine just how delicious it really is.

There is merit to Bourdain's approval of the establishment. Burns' has some mouthwatering, flavorful smoked chicken, ribs, and sausage links, and the accompanying homemade barbecue sauce is just icing on the cake. The sides are decent, with some of our favorites being the baked beans and potato salad. The only real downside is that restaurant-goers note that sometimes food is left out of to-go orders, and the service is a bit subpar compared to other BBQ spots.

14. Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q

Rudy's "Country Store" and Bar-B-Q are where you go in Houston if you're looking for barbecue that's consistent in taste each time you go. Customers say the brisket and sausage are almost always flavorful and juicy, and you can choose spicy or regular BBQ "sause" to accompany them. You can't go wrong with any of the classic sides the eatery offers, but if we had to pick one, it would be the cream corn. Unlike most other establishments on this list, this spot doesn't have "plate" meals, but you can virtually build your own with the available menu options.

Because Rudy's is currently a chain, it's worth noting that, as expected, the quality of the meat you get will vary between locations. However, Houstonians still consider it the go-to stop for quick, delicious, no-frills barbecue.

13. The Pit Room

The barbecue at The Pit Room may be tender and have a good bark, but locals claim it's not always consistent. Still, if you're in town and want a sample of Texas BBQ, the offerings here aren't too bad; you can get away with a few great meals from the establishment on a good day.

Visitors who are okay with splurging should go for the Wagyu beef ribs, but if you prefer to take it easy on your wallet, the brisket is a solid pick (the brisket tacos are pretty popular). The venison sausage is also a favorite. Not much can be said about the restaurant's cole slaw, green beans, and mac and cheese, but the charro beans and elote have a good flavor to them.

12. Blood Bros BBQ

Though it's a little expensive compared to similar establishments, Blood Bros BBQ is a restaurant that will easily take you to the big leagues of Texas barbecue. It's popular for its well-seasoned, tender brisket, ribs, and homemade sausage, with Asian-inspired flavors. The meat is so delicious that the BBQ sauce isn't even necessary. However, the same can't be said for the sandwich options; patrons have mentioned that they're dry and can be a bit bland.

If you want to try something you won't often find at other barbecue spots in Houston, we recommend the establishment's brisket fried rice, which features tasty, moist beef cuts. Blood Bros also has a variety of other unique sides that can satisfy a range of food preferences, including cucumber salad and jalapeno coleslaw. The BBQ goes fast here, so we recommend dining earlier in the day to take advantage of everything Blood Bros offers before it runs out.

11. Killen's Barbecue

Let's start with the good: Killen's Barbecue offers smoked meats that are incredibly flavorful and tender, so you can't go wrong with any of the plated BBQ menu items. Our favorites are the brisket, ribs, and pork belly burnt ends, and we recommend getting the meal with a side of collard greens, Brussels sprouts, or creamed corn. The restaurant's bread pudding, which is uniquely croissant-based, is a popular sweet treat if you're craving dessert.

Now for the not-so-good: As we've come to find with most barbecue joints, there are occasions when the meat can be a little dry, but this seems to be more consistent with the poultry and sandwich options. It's also worth noting that Killen's is best when you dine in; customers have mentioned issues with food quality and serving sizes whenever they order to go.

10. Truth Barbeque

Another establishment from our list of best BBQ restaurants in the U.S., Truth Barbeque advertises itself as the epitome of modern 'cue with Texas tradition. That said, you'll find it has a lot of interesting menu items like the Carolina Whole Hog, smoked half chicken, and tater tot casserole.

But, despite its unique fare, reviewers note that the meat tends to come out a little dry and, in some cases, even cold. However, if you visit Truth Barbeque early enough to avoid long lines, on a good day, you'll have the privilege of eating delicious, well-seasoned juicy brisket and ribs that melt in your mouth, and customers say that the wait is well worth it.

9. Roegels Barbecue Co.

A few years ago, if you were to ask customers what they thought about the BBQ from Roegels Barbecue Co., they would have told you it was overpriced for so-so meals that were improperly seasoned. However, today's patrons claim that, despite its fast-casual vibe, the restaurant has made a complete 180 and has mouthwatering menu items that keep them coming back for more.

The brisket falls apart perfectly and has that distinct smokey flavor you should get from any Texas-style BBQ, so it's no shock that it's a popular seller. The turkey is also a fan favorite. The macaroni and cheese is probably the best side dish you can order, though Roegels' other options are still tasty.

8. Central Texas Bar-B-Q

If you have a layover in Houston and only have time for a quick meal, try Central Texas Bar-B-Q. It's a small hole-in-the-wall that doesn't get much foot traffic outside the peak lunch rush, but trust us when we say you don't want to miss out.

The brisket is tender but usually doesn't have a lot of fat, so if that's what you prefer, you might want to pass this protein up. However, don't come here for the beef — you'll want to get a plate of pork ribs with a scoop of mac and cheese.  Central Texas' sides are a standoutl, so if you're not in the mood for our recommended accompaniment, you can't go wrong with any of the restaurant's other options.

7. Triple J's Smokehouse

The barbecue from Triple J's Smokehouse gives a respectful nod to classic Texas BBQ; you can even taste the slight hint of mesquite in every bite. Granted, the meat can be a little tough on occasion, but most of the time, it's perfectly cooked with fantastic flavor.

There's a plethora of great dishes you can choose from here, but among our favorites are the Ravens Bowl – chopped beef on top of fries with cheese — and the Big J baked potato stuffed to the brim (and then some) with fixings. If you want a little of everything, consider ordering J's special, which includes brisket, sausage, and ribs. Of course, you can't leave without trying the restaurant's fabulous peach cobbler.

6. Pinkerton's Barbecue

As with other BBQ spots, Pinkerton's Barbecue is not immune to the occasional dry and tough meat. However, during better days, expect some delicious ribs that easily fall off the bone and flavorful sausage — all thanks to the collection of Pinkerton family recipes and founder Grant Pinkerton's original concoctions.

The juicy and tender pork ribs feature a sweet and savory glaze that's hard to forget. If you're more of a brisket person, know that the restaurant's version is a little fatty, so if you prefer your beef this way, you'll likely enjoy it. For sides, the smoked duck and sausage jambalaya is a unique, popular item that, interestingly enough, pairs well with the BBQ, and the bananas foster pudding is a great post-meal treat.

5. Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue

We know what you're thinking: Chocolate and barbecue? It doesn't sound like it would work, but these two worlds don't actually collide as much as you'd imagine. What started as a small confectionery shop eventually became a dual sweet and smokey establishment, offering hand-crafted cocoa-based treats in one section while serving Texas-style barbecue in the other.

The smoked pork belly is our favorite dish here; it's flavorful and melts in your mouth every time. The chile relleno sausage links are another great meat option popular among customers. If you're curious about Tejas' sweet treats, we recommend taking home a set of chocolate truffles for dessert. The only downside is that the meals from this restaurant get expensive fast. However, for the quality of food you're getting compared to other BBQ spots in the area, we can see why.

4. Henderson & Kane General Store

The Henderson & Kane General Store can pass as a trading post on the surface, so it's easy to miss this BBQ spot if you aren't looking. The establishment offers various goods, groceries, and a range of high quality barbecue dishes and sides.

On the 'cue side, we like that the restaurant's cuts of meat are nice, thick pieces, though that could be due to the slightly higher fat content; some note that the brisket tends to have more of it than they'd like, but if you can look past it, the final product is still quite tender and perfectly seasoned overall. Also, if you happen to stop by Henderson & Kane's in the morning, we recommend ordering a cup of coffee; it's a smooth, delicious pick-me-up that pairs remarkably well with the shop's BBQ breakfast tacos.

3. Lonestar Sausage & BBQ

As the name suggests, Lonestar Sausage & BBQ initially specialized in homemade links before offering other wood-smoked meats. If you try this place out, pick up an order of the original dish while you're there; you'll quickly see why it remains a part of this restaurant's namesake. However, that's not the only menu item worth ordering; we also recommend the juicy brisket with a side of dirty rice.

Customers enjoy the overall dining experience at Lonestar; some note that there's just a certain warmth you get from the environment that amplifies how good the barbecue tastes. That said, like other BBQ spots in Houston, the store closes as soon as it runs out of prepared meat for the day (which can be frustrating), so make sure you call in your order early or stop by for lunch.

2. Uncle Bubba's Brisket and BBQ

Uncle Bubba's Brisket and BBQ tries to set itself apart by offering high-quality smoked meat, unlike what you'll find at a chain. There's a clear difference in taste, too: For example, the brisket is not only lean but extremely tender and has that unmistakable mesquite taste we like to find in our Texas-style barbecue — the trifecta of perfectly prepared 'cue. 

Because the restaurant focuses most on its smoked proteins, the sides aren't its strong suit; the standard offerings, like the green beans and mac and cheese, aren't as flavorful as the mouthwatering main dishes. However, the sweet potato casserole is pretty tasty and contrasts the savory meat well. But if sugar is what you need, definitely get the peach cobbler with ice cream. It's a fan favorite and the perfect combo to keep you cool on a hot Houston summer day.

1. CorkScrew BBQ

CorkScrew BBQ regularly has a long line out the door and sells out of its fresh barbecue during its limited operating hours, so you know it has to be good. The restaurant makes the top of our list due to its extremely moist, smokey, and flavorful 'cue and having the option to choose fatty or lean cuts. Whether you're ordering a plate of prime brisket, pulled pork, or turkey breast, you'll enjoy it all the same. The sides here don't mess around, either. The three-cheese mac is incredibly creamy, and the smoked beans are out of this world. We also can't get enough of the smokehouse's cobbler.

Overall, the prices here are fairly reasonable for what you get, and although you'll have to take a bit of a drive up north to dine there, we think it's worth the trip. CorkScrew BBQ has definitely won us over!