As much as Houston loves barbecue, it's hard to find a consistently great spot for it. After all, with so many categories and components, it's fairly easy to mess it up. Sometimes it's too dry or lacks flavor. Maybe there's no smoke ring or fat cap. Or perhaps the crust is too heavy. But, for me, that's never the case at my favorite Houston offering, Burns BBQ.
After nearly a year away, Burns BBQ was whispering my name. So I made the trip up north on I-45, to the little old house surrounded by streets with names like Victory, Prosper, Fortune and Enterprise. But in a twist of Fate (or Irony?), spanning the driveway was a handmade sign announcing that Burns was closed for renovations. Never mind that the place was badly in need of repair; where would I get my 'cue? But the two men holding court in the parking lot informed me that the Burns family would not let a few safety codes get their goat -- they've opened a new location on North Shepherd.
So I followed their off-hand instructions and found the new Burns BBQ, a pale yellow building with aqua trim located at 7117 North Shepherd (near Little York). The small inside is unadorned, except for the five or six card tables available for patrons. This is quite the revelation, since the old place was carry-out only (and YOU try driving rationally with a bag 'o brisket on the passenger seat). Place your order at the card table up front -- the ladies there are as friendly as they are striking -- and then grab your seat in a dining room badly in need of a fan to count down the time-to-glory.
I am not a tremendous carnivore. In fact, I eat meat maybe once or twice a week, at most. That's not to say I don't like it; it's just that I'd rather eat no meat than bad meat. Some of you might claim that makes me a poor judge of good 'cue, but I think it makes me more discerning. I'm not a burger whore and I never sprinkle chicken on my salads, yet I would readily trade a non-essential organ for a plate of Burns brisket. It is tender and moist, with a gorgeous smoke ring and obvious fat cap. It graciously pulls apart with the prodding of a plastic fork. I'm glad to see that the new location takes just as many pains to ensure that their 'cue is made of win. It is truly and simply delicious. Ribs, too, are smoky and moist -- and the beans are a worthy side.
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At 11:45 on their first day of business, the new Burns BBQ was nearly full. It appears its other disciples already knew that the place had risen.