Driving down Lockwood the other day, I was delighted to see smoke billowing out of the chimney at Kozy Kitchen. I stuck my head in the back door and had a chat with owner Bill Taylor who was getting ready for the Saturday lunch rush. Taylor is also the guy who cooks the barbecue at the Continental Club on Main Street. He has been smoking meat for a long time.
He told me there was a fire February of 2007 and Kozy Kitchen was closed for part of last year. The historic 5th Ward barbecue joint was opened in the 1940s. It is the last of the famous African-American barbecue joints that thrived in the 5th Ward during the days of segregation. Simpson’s, the Lockwood Inn and two others were located nearby.
Kozy Kitchen used to be the only place in town that offered barbecued veal, but that tradition didn’t survive the fire. Taylor told me he only cooked brisket, ribs and hot links these days.
At lunch time I found a crowd lined up at a little window that opened into Taylor’s kitchen. Nobody was sitting down at the tables inside, they were all getting barbecue to go. “White people cut the fat off their brisket, but it’s the fat that makes the meat tender and moist,” a guy named Richard Chenevert told me while I stood in line. Chenevert was from Baytown. He said Kozy Kitchen was the only place he could find good hot links these days.
When my turn came, I ordered all three meats with slaw and potato salad and got a brown paper bag handed to me through the little window. The three-meat plate was just under $10. The thin-sliced brisket was outstanding and so were the big fat pork ribs. I cut away the casings and ate my hot links in the classic style--rolled up in some white bread. If you want to sample Kozy Kitchen’s stellar barbecue on a Saturday, I suggest you get there when the place opens at 11:30 a.m. I am betting it sells out fast. –Robb Walsh
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