Greater Houston's Greatest Pits

Ten of the best old-fashioned barbecue pits within a one-hour drive of downtown Houston

1. Austin's Barbecue
Eagle Lake, (979)234-5250.
Established: Store opened circa 1950
Type of pit: Fabricated steel cylinder on wheels
Style: Meat market
Atmosphere: This former filling station has no charm; it's the barbecue outlet of the old Austin's Grocery Store next door. Get it to go.
What to get: Austin's meat-market sausage is outstanding. Get a couple of pounds to go and skip the tomato-heavy barbecue sauce.
Price: Sausage, $6.50 a pound

2. Dozier's Grocery
FM 359 in Fulshear, (281)346-1411
Established: 1957
Type of pit: Fabricated steel, Oyler, old-fashioned smoking chamber for bacon
Style: Meat market
Atmosphere: A Central Texas meat market at its finest
What to get: Meat-market-style ribs, brisket and housemade German sausage rank with the best in the state. The sauce is good, but you don't need any. Get it to go. And while you're at it, grab some of the pecan-smoked bacon George Bush served at the White House ($3.69 a pound) or a smoke-your-own pork sausage ($3.49 a pound for German, garlic, plain or sage) or a ready-to-eat dry sausage ($4.69 a pound).
Price: Three-meat plate with two sides, $8.90

3. Drexler's Bar-B-Q
2020 Dowling Street, (713)752-0008
Established: Circa 1952 (as Green's)
Type of pit: Original masonry, one of the oldest in the city
Style: Meat market
Atmosphere: Smoky old Houston joint established by Harry Green, now owned by Clyde Drexler's family. Sit and eat, or get it to go.
What to get: Fall-off-the-bone East Texas ribs, tender brisket and definitive East Texas beef links. This is the best East Texas-style barbecue in the city.
Price: $11 a pound for meats to go. Mixed dinner, $7.75

4. Green's Bar-B-Q
5404 Almeda, (713)528-5501
Established: 1947
Type of pit: Masonry with unique exterior firebox
Style: East Texas
Atmosphere: Sit down in the paneled dining room and watch the soaps or a basketball game.
What to get: East Texas-style ribs
Price: Rib plate with two sides, $6.45

5. John's Country Store
Egypt, (979)677-3536
Established: 1900 (as G.H. Northington's)
Type of pit: Fabricated steel
Style: Meat market
Atmosphere: This rambling wreck of an old country store, with meat market and saloon attached, has been around for more than 100 years. Eat at the bar. Call before you go to make sure it's open.
What to get: Brisket sandwich. There are no sides (unless you count potato chips). Tell them to go light on the vinegary sauce.
Price: Brisket sandwich, $3.25

6. Leon's "World's Finest" In & Out B-B-Q House
55th at Broadway, Galveston, (409)744-0070.
Established: 1987
Type of pit: Fabricated steel
Style: East Texas
Atmosphere: It's a good place to grab something for the beach, but if you want some turnip greens, you ought to sit down at one of the eight tables. The potato salad is the best I've ever had a barbecue joint.
What to get: East Texas ribs, potato salad, turnip greens
Price: Rib plate with two sides, $6.75

7. New Zion Missionary Baptist Church Barbecue
2601 Montgomery Road, Huntsville, (409)295-7394
Established: 1981
Type of pit: Fabricated steel on wheels
Style: East Texas camp meeting
Atmosphere: Church of the Holy Smoke. Sit down and eat family-style at community tables in a little church hall.
What to get: Tender East Texas-style ribs and brisket, wonderful homemade sides. (Skip the commercial sausage.)
Price: Family-style, all-you-can-eat, $7 per person

8. Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue
1703 Shepherd, (713)227-2283
Established: 1936 (as Shepherd Drive Bar-B-Q)
Type of pit: Masonry
Style: Cowboy. (Although originator John Davis probably cooked East Texas-style barbecue, Jerry Pizzitola's direct-heat method is closest to the cowboy style.)
Atmosphere: Lunch with the wildcatter set, in a funky dining hall decorated with fishing-trip photos and Aggie memorabilia
What to get: Tender cowboy-style brisket is cooked right over the coals; the dry, chewy ribs are great. Excellent sauce. Pizzitola's mom makes the coconut cake.
Price: Two-meat dinner with two sides, $8.95. Coconut cake, $2.95.

9. Swinging Door
3718 FM 359 in Fort Bend County (near Richmond), (281)342-7591
Established: 1973
Type of pit: Fabricated steel
Style: Mixed
Atmosphere: Funky homemade building with stained-glass windows. There is a dance hall out back with live music on Saturday nights.
What to get: Brisket
Price: Regular (one meat) dinner with two sides, $10.95

10. Williams Smoke House
5903 Wheatley, (713)680-8409
Established: 1987
Type of pit: Masonry
Style: East Texas
Atmosphere: This little cabin in the pines feels like it's out in the country; in fact, it's only a short drive from downtown. Sit under the trees at a picnic table if the weather's nice.
What to get: Brisket, East Texas beef links, ribs
Price: Three-meat plate, $8.50
Greater Houston's Greatest Pits

 
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