Sunnyside Sup

Reid's is an awesome barbecue time capsule

I have to agree. The meat is so tender it falls easily away from the bone. The ribs have been spiced with a dry rub, which gives them a nice salt and red pepper tang. On the outside, the meat has a crunchy black crust. They are truly world-class ribs, except for the sauce.

"What do you think of the barbecue sauce?" I ask my lunchmate.

"I think it makes an excellent face cream," she says with an orange smile.

Ribs, links and the occasional smile: Eddie Reid of 
Reid's Barbecue.
Daniel Kramer
Ribs, links and the occasional smile: Eddie Reid of Reid's Barbecue.

Location Info


Reid's Barbecue

4101 Clover St.
Houston, TX 77051-2719

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Outer Loop - SW


Order of ribs: $7.50
Pound of ribs: $12.50
Sliced beef sandwich: $3.75
Link sandwich: $3.50
Onion and pickles: 50 cents
4101 Clover, 713-734-9326. Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays through Saturdays.

On my next visit, I'm the only customer sitting at a table. I order a link sandwich and a Coke, and an order of ribs to go. I also risk Eddie's wrath by asking if I can get the ribs with the barbecue sauce on the side. To my surprise, Eddie has no problem with the request.

Seven or eight people come and pick up sacks of barbecue, but no one else sits down. I wonder why. Though the decorations are dated and the floor is worn, the restaurant is spotlessly clean. Almost too clean, I muse. I wonder if Eddie Reid is one of those obsessive neat-and-tidy types who puts plastic covers on the sofa.

She brings me the link sandwich, which consists of ten or so little sections of East Texas links doused in barbecue sauce with three pieces of bread on the side. But this time I discover that deep down under that put-that-menu-back-where-you-found-it exterior, Eddie Reid has a heart full of pent-up hospitality she's dying to share. Not only does she bring me a glass of ice for my Coke, she brings me an unsolicited glass of ice water.

East Texas links are made of finely ground beef, lots of fat and plenty of cayenne. They aren't like the coarse-ground German- or Czech-style sausages found in Central Texas. Among Anglos, they're an acquired taste. Although they're stuffed in edible natural casings, they tend to ooze out of the skins. Many people squeeze the sausage meat out onto a piece of bread and leave the casings uneaten. This is the essence of a link sandwich.

Reid's links are very peppery and well smoked. Already I've used up two pieces of white bread making fold-over sandwiches with link meat, sauce, pickles and onions, and I'm down to my last slice. That's when it happens.

Eddie Reid walks over to my table and asks, "Would you like another slice of bread?" I take advantage of her offer. And now, between the sauce on the side and all that free bread and water, I'm full of warm and fuzzy feelings.

She hands me the ribs wrapped to go, and I give one a try. In my opinion, James Reid's spectacular ribs are even better without sauce. The crust is crunchier and the flavor of the smoke is unmasked. Later that day, I bring the ribs to the office and hand them over to two colleagues who haven't had lunch. Both rave about them. One likes them better with the sauce, and one prefers them without.

I work up the courage to walk up front and ask Reid if I can take a look at the barbecue pit. Having checked it out already from the back of the building, I know it's a brick pit with the classic old Third Ward design -- the firebox opens to the outside, and the meat-smoking chamber opens on the inside. But I would love to get a closer look.

"Nobody goes behind the counter," Reid says, scowling.

"Just a peek?" I plead.

"Are you some kind of inspector?" Reid asks.

"No," I say.

"Then why do you want to inspect my pit?"

Finally, I give up and leave.

I highly recommend that you go visit Eddie Reid and her awesome barbecue time capsule. Don't worry: She barks, but she doesn't bite.

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