If barbecue is an art form, these are the masters
Upon landing in the Caribbean, Spanish explorers used the word “barbacoa” to refer to the natives’ method of slow-cooking meat over a wooden platform, according to historians. Over the centuries, the method has evolved. In Texas, barbecuing is a lot more than just throwing meat on a grill — it’s an art form. Here are a few area barbecue joints that have mastered it.
Leon’s World’s Finest In and Out Bar-B-Que
Leon O’Neal, affectionately referred to as “Dr. Bar-B-Q,” has been serving up his world-famous barbecue on the island for more than 25 years. From traditional barbecue fare such as ribs, brisket and sausage, Leon’s, as it’s known in Galveston, also offers such Southern staples as riblets, boudin, turkey legs, stuffed baked potatoes and cracklin. Save room for the homemade rum cake, old-fashioned teacakes, bread pudding, brownies and pecan or sweet potato pie.
5427 Broadway, Galveston, 409.744.0070
Dickinson Bar-B-Que & Steakhouse
Since 2009, this eatery has featured slow-cooked pecan-smoked barbecue, hand-cut steaks, homestyle Texas comfort cuisine, burgers, sandwiches and locally brewed craft beer and Texas wines in a Hill Country setting. The Gulf Coast restaurant also offers fresh seafood and such Texas cuisine as chicken-fried steaks. Desserts are made daily.
2111 FM 517 E., Dickinson, 281.534.2500
This island restaurant with its rustic décor has been in operation since 1976, features oak and pecan-smoked barbecue favorites, as well as its famous chopped beef baked potatoes and its Turkey Cliffhanger sandwich. Queen’s also features a wide variety of sides from potato salad, macaroni and cheese, Texas caviar served with Fritos on top, along with crowd favorite and family recipe Green Chili Cream Corn.
3428 Ave. S, Galveston, 409-762-3151
Family-owned and operated since 2016, this small and family-friendly restaurant already has made a name for itself by serving up authentic barbecue with a taste as big as Texas. Make sure you go early — Kat’s is open until it sells out, which is quite often. Kat’s prides itself on serving “Big Boy” plates of tender brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs, pulled pork, sausage and its famous brisket grilled cheese sandwich. The restaurant also serves after-dinner treats such as banana pudding and pie by the slice. There’s also a craft draft root beer fountain.
3805 FM 646 N., Santa Fe, 409.316.0023
Grand Prize Barbeque
Known as the “Home of the Super Chop” and for its Brown Bag Deals, this popular pillar on the mainland supplies heaping portions of ribs, sliced beef brisket, link sausage, smoked ham, turkey breast and more. Steaks also are on the menu, as well as salads, pinto beans, jambalaya rice and waffle fries, just to name a few. Must-tries at this restaurant are the huge baked potatoes, homemade pecan pie and its famous jalapeño bread.
2223 Palmer Highway, Texas City, 409.948.6501
Texas Pit Stop BBQ
You can’t go wrong making a pit stop at either the island or mainland location of this family-owned eatery that was created after its owner and his cook-off team kept winning several competitions in the region and beyond. Brisket tacos are a favorite, as are the barbecue brisket nachos and the restaurant’s famous fried boudin balls.
6612 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 409.744.2222
2216 Interstate 45 S., La Marque, 409.935.2222
Red River BBQ & Grill
Brothers Kevin and Ric Kiersh opened this restaurant in 2002 and quickly built a loyal following for such fare as the Triple Threat — pulled pork, spicy sausage and peppered bacon with melted cheddar on a jalapeño cheese bun— the brisket cheese fries and more.
1911 E. Main St., League City, 281.332.8086
Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q
Rudy’s likes to brag it serves “real Texas Bar-B-Q” and delivers with lean brisket, turkey breast, pork loin, spare ribs and more. Jalapeño sausage is a big seller. Sides aren’t sidelined here. Rudy’s offers corn-on-the-cob, green chile stew, jumbo smoked potatoes, cream corn, three bean salad and its world-famous Rudy’s beans. And what Texan wouldn’t like to wake up to barbecue. Try the breakfast tacos with your choice of barbecued meat.
21361 Interstate 45, Webster, 281.338.0462
Pappas Delta Blues Smokehouse
The appetizers are just a few of the things that sets this newcomer apart from the traditional barbecue restaurant. For those of you who want barbecue on another level — you won’t wait in line with a plastic tray — this newest addition of the Pappas chain of restaurants serves sophisticated barbecue — aged hickory-smoked USDA prime beef brisket, Berkshire pork belly, slow-smoked St. Louis Style ribs and, of course, the Big Boy Beef Ribs. But make sure to start with the starters — Delta Shrimp & Sausage Brochette, Sunday’s Deviled Eggs, Nashville Hot Fried Manchester Farm Quail, or the crowd-pleasing Sticky Pork Belly Bites.
19901 Interstate 45, Webster, 281.332.0024
Pennie’s Tex Mex Take Out
Hurricane Ike in 2008 caused this popular eatery to close. But in 2017, Pennie’s, which was founded in 1978, returned with a vengeance, serving up its blend of Hill Country-style barbecue with original rubs and sauces passed down through the generations of the Ochoa family’s barbacoa recipes. The restaurant features brisket, St. Louis-style pork ribs, stuffed baked potatoes, grilled chicken, link sausage and Tex-Mex favorites such as barbacoa, menudo, homemade salsa and tamales. Word of advice: Get there early, as Pennie’s regularly sells out.
1713 37th St., Galveston, 409.765.5719