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An Aggie Tradition

The Brisket House on Woodway serves up a College Station classic.

See inside the smoker and watch the brisket get trimmed at The Brisket House in our slideshow.

A half-pound of slick, fat-capped brisket and tender pork ribs sat on a gleaming, glossy white sheet of butcher paper on the table next to me at The Brisket House. It looked like barbecue as still life: to the meat's left on the tableau was a whole pickle, a great lump of Cheddar cheese and a knob of raw, white onion. It was a Hungry Man-style meal, served with a knife, a fork and a sense of satisfaction. It was also a surprising sight in Houston. This meal is a College Station classic, known by those who love it as The Aggie Special.

Fans of the long-gone Tom's BBQ in College Station, which closed more than ten years ago, will possibly remember the old pitmaster there, Wayne Kammerl. But they will definitely remember the Aggie Special, a half pound of meat served on a piece of butcher paper, pared down and simple.

The Aggie Special — we mean, Brisket House Special — takes alumni back.
Troy Fields
The Aggie Special — we mean, Brisket House Special — takes alumni back.

Location Info

Map

The Brisket House

5775 Woodway Drive
Houston, TX 77057

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Galleria

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
Six-ounce special (one meat): $7.50
One-pound special (four meats): $18
BBQ plate (one meat): $8.50
BBQ plate (two meats): $10
BBQ sandwich: $5.75
Stuffed baked potato: $7
Slice of pie: $3


READ MORE:
SLIDESHOW: Barbecue Done Right at The Brisket House
BLOG POST: The Brisket House: A Barbecue Tradition


The Brisket House
5775 Woodway, 281-888-0331.

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"The Aggie Special was probably 80 percent of what we sold at Tom's," says Kammerl, who ran the College Station barbecue joint from 1992 until 1998. Kammerl opened The Brisket House last June, and has been shocked by the overwhelmingly positive response that his Aggie Special — renamed The Brisket House Special here — has drawn from the local community.

"When I opened, I said I'm gonna do a couple of things the way we did at Tom's," says Kammerl. "It was the quickest recognition of where I came from. The very first day I opened, one of my ten customers looked at the menu board and said, 'Who's the Aggie?!'"

The dish known as The Aggie Special was so popular in College Station that even after Tom's closed in 2001 after 45 years in business, in what Kammerl calls a "heart-wrenching" end to a few years of mismanagement by new owners, the special survived — with its Aggie name intact — in other barbecue joints around town.

At The Brisket House, the butcher-paper meal costs only $9. You can get it in a full-pound size for $18 or a more petite six-ounce portion for $7.50, but what are you — a tea-sipper?

The slight hint of Aggie-Longhorn rivalry runs through the joint, tucked into a classy red-brick strip next door to Cylone Anaya's. The walls of the ever-so-slightly upscale Central Texas-style barbecue restaurant literally bleed maroon here (maroon paint). But Kammerl's team wears both burnt orange and maroon T-shirts as they take orders and chop beef in the open kitchen.

"When an Aggie comes in my building, they always let me know they're an Aggie," Kammerl says. "But I have a huge Aggie and Longhorn following. And that's kind of neat." He continues: "Easily 30 to 40 percent of my repeat business is Aggie alumni. And I'd say half is from a three-mile radius of the Tanglewood neighborhood.

There's the feeling that The Brisket House serves as a sort of living room for the area by both day and night, with regulars who live or work nearby sprawled comfortably at tables in the dining room. Cords of firewood sit stacked by the entrance and genuine smiles emerge from behind the counter when you walk in. Slices of pie tempt you from an ice-packed counter, and Robert Earl Keen joins Jason Boland & The Stragglers on the stereo.

The clientele at lunch are mostly well-dressed businessmen from the surrounding Galleria area, tucking ties into buttoned-up shirts as they politely attack their heaping barbecue plates. The restaurant does a brisk take-out service at lunch as well as dinner, although only 10 percent of the business now is in Aggie Specials.
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At night, the dining room has a different vibe, with more families than suits occupying the tables. There isn't a kid's menu to speak of, but what kid wouldn't be happy with the sloppy joe-esque barbecue sandwich, whose buns overflow with finely diced brisket under a peppery, house-made sauce that's always served wonderfully warm?

Nighttime isn't typically the best time to get good barbecue. If you head to places such as Goode Co. or Rudy's, you're faced with the same problem that would exist if spots like Thelma's stayed open into the evening: barbecue that's been taken off the pit earlier in the day, becoming tough and stringy as the meat slowly cools back down.

Because of that, I was hesitant to try The Brisket House past, say, 3 p.m. During lunch, I'd never been disappointed with a single piece of barbecue at the place. What happy feelings would be crushed by a nighttime visit? Only one, it turns out.

My solitary issue was with the lean brisket one weekday evening, which didn't have the same sweetly fatty taste and texture, the same oomph, as the regular brisket served during the day. My dining companion, however, loved it. "I just prefer lean brisket, though," he conceded, after I brought him some of The Brisket House's fatty brisket the next day.

"Crazy talk," I told him, and snatched the rest away. Luckily, The Brisket House generally agrees with me on that point, its brisket normally cooked and cut with a generous amount of fat left on the meat. I did watch one afternoon, however, as a man behind the counter callously cut off all the lovely fatty, slightly blackened parts of the brisket and threw them into the trash, continuing to blithely chop up the rest of it for an order of barbecue sandwiches. I watched silently, mouth agape.

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16 comments
Carlos Closinhtown
Carlos Closinhtown

Seriously guys, the Brisket house is mediocre at best. It's edible, but definitely not worthy of the high praise you guys gave it. Good bbq is getting harder and harder to find here in Houston these days.

Elijah Wolford
Elijah Wolford

Correct, there's no fantastic bbq in houston. Hinzes down 59 south is damm good. I am embarrassed that there is not one, for god sake its Houston !

Ray Guy
Ray Guy

Poooor butthurt Gary:( whooooooooooooooooop! The Brisket House is the tits!

AggieGirl97
AggieGirl97

No Aggie special should come with a fork - just a knife - but I'm dying to try it.

Augustus
Augustus

Went today, do away with the plastic knife and bring back the real one and we're good to go...Place filled up quick too, I'm sure Katharine helped spike their business with the review...

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

LOL! Well, considering it's now "The Brisket House Special," I suppose a few concessions are in order.

yahoo-6XOC7JC6GUH7XCUNMAT4SHHNZM
yahoo-6XOC7JC6GUH7XCUNMAT4SHHNZM

You want to know what's bound to come... :)?

How about the fact that the Wizard of Westbury can't pass up the chance to take a shot at A&M while you just blatantly suck up to Aggies in a restaurant review?

I was an undergraduate in College Station when the original Tom's ruled Texas Avenue and I'm familiar with its downfall. I've looked for a substitute since 1993.

Brisket House might be the soul of Tom's original locations. I'll check it out.

And then I'll tell Wayne that "This looks good but Rich Connelly says anything related to A&M is an abomination to civilized people. Gotta go!"

Don't be hypocrites. And tell Rich to focus on press releases supporting his wife "acceleration" problem.

Jamie Schultea
Jamie Schultea

Yes the orignally location was on Texas Avenue, then was moved to S. College Avenue, along with 2nd location on Tx Avenue & Hollemann.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

"Blatantly suck up to Aggies?" Hmm. That's a new complaint. But nicer than the others usually are, so I'll take it.

Aside from the place serving great barbecue in and of itself, I was surprised to see an old Aggie tradition crop up like this in Houston and thought it was pretty cool. And that, as Paul Harvey would have said, is the rest of the story. Or, rather, the entire story in a nutshell.

craig
craig

Considering A&M wishes it were located in Houston. It kills them their world class school in in hickvill USA.

Had my first Tom's BBQ in 1988 and it was great. My wife and I make this at home all the time and always talk about Tom's.

Rob Hays
Rob Hays

I knew there was a reason I loved Brisket House.

Tom's was on its last legs when I got to College Station in 1999, but I definitely had an Aggie Special more than once. Glad to know that Kammerl's doing well here.

Hunter
Hunter

Waa -waa-waaaaaaa. The first of the BBQ snobs has arrived. Guess what? I used to say the same thing until I tried Brisket House. Their meat is superb. Sorry Gary, but you're wrong.

Augustus
Augustus

Nice review Katharine, I'm look forward to getting an Aggie Special again...

Gary
Gary

The bbq at the Brisket House is terrible. I would not call meat cooked in an oven pit barbeque. If you want the real deal go around the corner to Baker's Ribs....

 
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