Blood Bros. BBQ opens today in Bellaire, a significant opening for a variety of reasons. The first is that it’s the first brick and mortar location for what had hitherto only been a pop-up barbecue concept. The second is that it’s the first craft barbecue joint in Houston where the pitmaster is Vietnamese-American. The third and most compelling reason, however, is that Blood Bros. is the classic story of the American dream, this one with a distinctly Houstonian spin.
It started out as a side hustle, a hobby, something they were doing for fun. Quy Hoang, 45, Blood Bros.’ pitmaster, had been friends with brothers Robin Wong, 43, and Terry Wong, 45, since their days at Elsik High School in Alief in the early ’90’s.
By day, Hoang and his uncle ran and sold and maintained custom aquariums. But he loved to cook, so about six years ago, when the Wongs — who own Glitter Karaoke in Midtown — wanted to do a steak night, Hoang offered to do it. It was a huge hit, so the guys started doing regular steak nights, until Hoang decided he wanted to sharpen his backyard barbecue skills with some creative ‘cue.
Chris Shepherd, who had Underbelly at the time, took notice. He invited the crew to do a mini barbecue pop-up in Underbelly’s parking lot one weekend alongside Patrick Feges (Feges BBQ) and Greg Gatlin (Gatlin’s BBQ). The lines got to be so long, and the demand for their barbecue so strong, that the guys started accepting gigs to do barbecue pop-ups on a regular basis.
They held pop-ups approximately twice a month, first at Refinery, then Liberty Station, then Lincoln Bar. They started catering the private events at Buffalo Bayou Brewery. All the while, Hoang was getting more creative with his barbecue, gaining a cult following for items like his beef belly burnt ends made with spicy Korean gochujang red chili paste, or his Thai curry boudin.
Adding to the the momentum were the invites to participate in the local barbecue festivals, including the Houston Barbecue Festival and The Woodlands BBQ Festival. There, says Terry, “People would ask, ‘Where’s your restaurant?’ and ‘When can we visit?" As their barbecue rose in popularity, the brothers, who all held full time jobs that didn't involve barbecue and had no formal knowledge of how to run or open a restaurant, decided to take a leap into the unknown.
Now, after close to a year of construction, Blood Bros. BBQ finally has a place to call home. Their brand-spanking new, built-from-the-ground-up 3,100 sq. foot space is located in the Bellaire Triangle strip mall, just a few doors down from Bernie’s Burger Bus. The walls are painted in a bright orange hue (the color of the Blood Bros. logo) and currently feature paintings by local artist JJ Baker. The tabletops are all custom woodwork by the Wongs’ stepfather, lovingly crafted from fallen cedar from his farm in Giddings, Texas. There are flat screen TV’s throughout. Yet to come are the inset patio (awaiting furniture) and the full bar (awaiting license). But Blood Bros. is ready for business.
When they first open, Quy—who is sourcing most of his meats from 44 Farms and Black Hill Meats—says he’ll be serving the Texas trinity of brisket, ribs and sausage, and smoked turkey, with plans to slowly add some of the more creative offerings such as reuben sausages and giant beef ribs as weekend specials.
Robin, who does the sides, is doing potato salad, mac ’n cheese, cole slaw, baked beans, and roasted creamed corned. Port Arthur native Allen Duhon (who was probably best known as Randy Evans’ sous chef at Haven) is also on board, so bet on some killer gumbo in the future.
“Our logo says Texas barbecue, because we wanted people to know that we can do Texas barbecue, but what we’re really doing is Houston barbecue,” says Hoang. “We’re not using just salt and pepper. We’re taking spices from all these cultures that make up Houston — Vietnamese, Korean, Mediterranean—and from all these restaurants that we’ve been eating at in Houston, and we’re putting that into our interpretation of barbecue.”
Blood Bros. BBQ is located at 5425 Bellaire Boulevard and will open to the public on Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. until the food runs out. For more information, visit facebook.com/BloodBrosBBQ.