Pappa Charlie’s Barbeque

That pepper crust looks mighty fine.
Photo courtesy Pappa Charlie's
Pappa Charlie’s Barbeque doesn’t have quite the magnetic cachet of groundbreaking barbecue restaurants like Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland or CorkScrew BBQ in Old Town Spring. Its offerings, though, are quite solid and, best of all, it’s close to downtown Houston. It’s just down the street from BBVA Compass Stadium, where the Dynamo soccer club plays, and just on the other side of the freeway from the George R. Brown Convention Center. The standouts are the pork ribs, moist chicken and turkey. In fact, the chicken breast is so good it will convert white-meat-haters. Proprietor Wesley Jurena says his pork rib recipe for the restaurant is very close to his competition recipe, and it certainly seems like a winner. It’s beautifully balanced between sweet, salty, savory and saucy, and leftover ribs seem more compelling the next day as flavors meld overnight in the fridge. Jurena’s hot-and-fast cooking method leads to tender brisket that still holds structural integrity, but other meats, like huge pork ribs, might veer into pot roast territory. The potato salad is the mustardy kind, and we found it would be helped with more bright acidity, like some dill pickle relish. The ranch-style pinto beans are thankfully devoid of a surfeit of sugar and are instead savory. On our review visits, it seemed like everything needed more salt, but perhaps that problem has since been rectified. Pappa Charlie’s Barbeque is a boon for downtown workers, game-goers and urbanites who need to fulfill their smoked-meat cravings.