Without weekend hours and only a four-hour window for lunch service (plus a shorter breakfast service in the mornings), Feges BBQ is doing absolute gangbusters business. They're also killing it as a smokehouse. They've made all the best-of lists, been positively reviewed by every local outlet and some national. By their own merits, and under the promotional wing of Patrick Feges' old mentor and executive chef Chris Shepherd, Feges has become a household name in Texas barbecue circles. And still, I had not been.
Despite my apprehension about its location and frustratingly sparse hours, I went in with high hopes and optimistic expectations. Anyone who's seen photos of those colorful sides and beautifully marbled brisket knows they're in for a good meal walking up to Feges. On first sight, the large gray counter inside the Greenway food court jumps out as a well-decorated, minimalist and urban barbecue joint.
Naturally, no matter how well decorated, a food hall won't carry the same nostalgic barbecue charm of an old school country smokehouse, or even a modern standalone building. Yet thanks to the building's natural light and the restaurant's crisp color palate, the small open-face concept carries several elements of both contemporary and traditional barbecue culture. Even with the competing aromas of its neighboring restaurants, the smell of brisket fat reached across the hall to greet us right away. On smokehouse aesthetics, Feges scores a 7/10.
Feges made a name for himself in Houston cooking circles with his popup barbecue and catering company years before launching a brick and mortar alongside his wife and business partner Erin Smith. Back then he wasn't exactly known for his brisket. In fact, the Houston native cut his barbecue teeth smoking whole hogss, a Southern tradition uncommon in the world of Texas barbecue.
Over the years Feges has applied his culinary education and fine dining pedigree to developing a menu of fine smoked meats that incorporates the traditions of Central and East Texas, along with some elements of traditional Southern cooking. The boudin link in my three-meat platter was smoky and well-seasoned. While it could have used more spice, it was not overly greasy nor overwhelming in its saltiness. While getting to the meat on the pork ribs took some gnawing, they were a sweet glazed delight and took beautifully to either the Alabama White Sauce or traditional BBQ house sauce. On quality of non-brisket proteins Feges scores a 7.5/10.
It has been the sides, perhaps more than anything, that have made Fege's BBQ the buzz-worthy must-try concept that it is. Since its debut, critics and reviewers have raved ceaselessly about the elevated and sophisticated sides at the food court barbecue stand. The sides menu, like the concept itself, is a joint effort by Feges and Smith. While Feges' barbecue credentials have shaped the meat program, Smith, the former executive chef and culinary consultant, can be credited with shaping the impressive sides menu. From Asian cucumbers to sweet & spicy sprouts and spiced cracklin, the menu is a combination of internationally and domestically inspired small plates that pair excellently with hearty smoked meat.
I can't say my experience at Feges did anything to assuage my frustration with its location — if anything my newfound love only made me curse the inconvenience even more. But I do get it. Restaurants need to make money. A low overhead, high traffic location like Greenway Plaza is a business owner's dream. I only hope their success will lead to an expansion in the near future to a standalone, more neighborhood friendly location. And if you do work in Greenway, don't take your incredible lunch options for granted.