To kick off BBQPalooza9, we decided that we needed an attention getter. One of the coolest things happening on the Houston BBQ scene has been the rise of Pastrami Thursday. The two joints most associated with Pastrami Thursday and the smoked Reuben sandwiches are Tejas Chocolate & Barbecue and Roegels Barbecue. If we were going to ensure ourselves of a coveted Reuben sandwich at each joint we were going to have to divide and conquer.....and if we were going to divide and conquer, might as well split up into 3 groups and include the oft selling out and Houston favorite Corkscrew BBQ. So a plan was hatched. We would divide up the first leg into three groups and secure a spread at each location, then kick off BBQPalooza9 with the ultimate family feast....but where to meet? Where else should you kick off a Houston BBQ feast than at 8th Wonder Brewery? Chowing down on Hou smoked meats while sitting in Astrodome seats? Yes please. So as soon as we all arrived at 8th Wonder the spread was unveiled: a record breaking meal upwards of 9lbs! Six Reubens, brisket, sausage, pastrami, turkey, a few sides..... it was a FEAST. Several of the group immediately latched on to the Roegels' Reuben which delivers the ultimate flavor explosion. Russell has perfected the art of just the right amount of tangy, acidity to pair with what we all thought was the best smoked pastrami. His Reuben has bark and.....bite. But before you crown him, let me assure you that several other members swore by the smoother yet just as tasty Tejas sandwich. From the toasted rye down to the house made sauerkraut and Russian dressing this sandwich is a slightly smoother and silky Reuben. Everything in the Tejas Reuben perfectly compliments each other. If you ask me to pick? That feels like trying to choose between my son and my daughter. I take the easy out and say that both are the best sandwiches I have eaten and declare this Pastrami-off a draw.....the winner.....ME and the rest of the crew that got to eat both. Other than the Reubens, the star of the show was Tejas' chile relleno sausage which almost caused our BBQ fellowship to fracture one meal in, when the last bite was up for grabs. I can tell you that nothing was left from that Tejas spread....there is a reason they were in the last TX Monthly top 10. Corkscrew was not quite on par with our previous visits. Not sure if the ride in the car affected the meat more, but we have had some amazing spreads at Corkscrew and will have to get back soon to eat on site. Epic start to BBQPalooza9!
Finally, we decided to head over to the best patio in Houston at Pinkerton's Barbecue. Luckily, we caught Grant right before he headed out on a previous engagement and got to visit for a bit. When you go to Pinkerton's you are literally visiting Grant at his house, and there is no better host. BBQPalooza mastermind and current BBQ missionary to Nashville, Chris Hicks, was able to place one of his The Oak TX BBQ stickers on the door at Pinkerton's which was awesome.....then we went out on the patio for college basketball, drinks, and settling food. We ended up spending about 5 hours at Pinkerton's enjoying the absolutely perfect Houston spring break weather. Once the appetites returned as always Pinkerton's did not disappoint. Firmly in my Hou top 5 with moist brisket, great sausage, world famous candy painted ribs, and the best side in barbecue....duck jambalaya! Although I am not a huge sauce guy, another big reason Pinkerton's is a personal favorite is that his sauce is my favorite. Perfect for dipping complimentary bread into between meats, I love it! A few other friends showed up late, and we actually made a second order before finally bringing day 1 of BBQPalooza9 to a close. In the words of Borat....SUCCESS!
Day 2 of BBQPalooza began as several days lately have.....waking up early to be first in line at Truth BBQ! In fact we were actually the first patrons waiting at the door not so long ago when Truth first opened their Houston location (we kinda have an unhealthy love for Leonard and his smoked meats). BBQPalooza OG Jason Denham is said to often be waiting at the door as the workers show up! This visit was especially cool because one of our own, former student/athlete Cole Parkman is working at Truth and got to help make our tray. Super proud to see a former student who got to tag along on some of BBQPalooza this year living the BBQ dream! Another first is that the wives were finally allowed to break through the smoke ceiling and tag along for day 2 to "see what all the fuss" was about. Truth has the cities best brisket IMO, and their ribs somehow continue to get better every time. Combine those with the excellent sausage, ridiculous sides (tater tot casserole #1), and the homemade cakes and you can see why we feel Leonard could soon find himself in the top 5 and a legit #1 overall contender in the next TX Monthly list. The other thing about Truth is that more than any other pit master Leonard recognizes the art of making the perfect tray. Every meal at Truth is meticulously crafted as an artist would paint a canvas! I could sit at the line for hours and marvel at the trays he puts together.....the ultimate Instagram spot. So once the ladies got their fill of cake and pics we left Leonard and Cole and crew to a packed house and wrapping up yet another sold out day in Houston.
After Truth we thought the ladies might enjoy some "off the grid" BBQ so we headed over to Blood Bros. BBQ. Holy Brisket Fried Rice Batman! This was the revelation of the trip for me personally. I had heard how great the brisket fried rice was, but none of the superlatives actually did this perfect mash up justice! I never thought anything would give tacos a run for "best use of Texas brisket" title, but I could eat that fried rice every night. One of the "Bros" Terry, and pit master Quy were there and could not have been nicer. Terry talked to us for a long time about our adventure, and Quy was cool enough to give us a behind the scenes tour. We had brisket, ribs, reuben sausage (the ONLY sausage of the weekend to compete with the Tejas chile relleno), Big Al's gumbo, Thai Green Curry boudin, brisket fried rice, a turkey banh mi, and Quy threw an extra slice of wagyu on our order. FANTASTIC! These guys are doing things I have never tasted before and it ALL works. I loved the meal and this spot further solidified my hypothesis that some of the coolest and most creative people in the world are currently doing Texas BBQ. Thank you so much Terry and Quy.....can't believe it took me this long to come by but rest assured I WILL BE BACK!
Much like Day 1 it was now time to chill out for a while, and what better place to do that than The Pit Room? With an entire corner of Houston including outdoor seating, tacos, The Patio, craw fish, cold drinks....we once again spent several hours at our last stop of the day. After a few hours of the first ladies of BBQ hijacking the digital jukebox, some cold drinks, and some well timed craw fish it was once again time for Q. The Pit Room has the best tacos in Houston. If you have not been here you are ineligible to have a taco opinion or develop any kind of Houston taco ranking. They can throw a trinity plate together with the best of them, but the true star are the brisket, chicken, and pulled pork loaded with Tex-Mex favorites and wrapped in brisket fat tortillas! We had several tacos, and then like the night before we made a second and final order of BBQPalooza consisting of perfect chips and queso and the best smoked frito pie I have had. The Pit Room is another of my top5 Hou joints and if you haven't been put it at the top of your list.
|Pit Room Tacos|
BBQPalooza9 contained the largest ever spread, service from one of our own, and the first ever bring your wife to BBQPalooza day. Once again the eating was tremendous, but the real take away was the awesome people of Texas BBQ and how it brings friends together. I had my first experiences at Feges and Blood Bros. and spent time in some of my favorite places on Earth (In the NEW TEXAS BBQ CAPITAL). It's probably time for my yearly month long BBQ hiatus, but rest assured I will be back eating with the rest of you soon!
See you out on the BBQ trail!