Here, Eat This

First Look at Harlem Road Texas BBQ

Chef Ara slices tender, juicy beef brisket for orders at Harlem Road Texas BBQ
Chef Ara slices tender, juicy beef brisket for orders at Harlem Road Texas BBQ Photo by Doogie Roux

In Texas, there is plenty of BBQ to be had, but not all of it is good and distinct. Traditions and known methods are reliable but putting a twist on them and adding style along with elements from another culture goes a long way. A certain BBQ brand was doing just that while making its way around Houston at various events, pop ups, and cook offs. Once it was confirmed that this brand was set to have an establishment open for business, a first look was necessary.

Customers form a line that wraps around the parking lot - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
Customers form a line that wraps around the parking lot
Photo by Doogie Roux

Just on the outskirts of southwest Houston, sits a small, rustic, building on the side of Harlem Road. A bronze horse rears at the entrance, and a line of customers out the door is wrapped around the parking lot. Smoke rolls from massive pits on the backside of the building and the place is packed with people and the city's newest BBQ flavor. Harlem Road Texas BBQ now has a home from which they'll serve locals and those traveling far and wide.

Pork ribs fresh from the smoker just before they're cut for customers - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
Pork ribs fresh from the smoker just before they're cut for customers
Photo by Doogie Roux

Chef Ara Malekian is responsible for bringing this goodness to the area. He spent his childhood in the kitchen with his grandmother, and was trained in Switzerland. In the late '80s, he moved to the United States and began his culinary career. He was later recruited by celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck. After years on the road and at various restaurants, a love for Texas BBQ arose and Malekian developed unique flavors that one can only find at Harlem Road Texas BBQ.

Chef Ara explains the methods and measures behind the unique flavors at Harlem Road Texas BBQ - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
Chef Ara explains the methods and measures behind the unique flavors at Harlem Road Texas BBQ
Photo by Doogie Roux
This place boasts slow-smoked meats and other locally-sourced ingredients. Smokers are packed with special branches from a certain fruit bearing tree and pieces of wood barrels that have retained the flavor of wines they once held. On the menu, you'll find beef and pork ribs, handmade sausage, beef and pork brisket, chicken, and pulled pork. All of which has the most proper tenderness, crisp layers and juiciness. Seriously, the only thing dry here are the bones and the rub. Along with that, sides of potato salad, coleslaw and BBQ beans. It's worth noting that the burnt ends can be found in the BBQ beans, and they're extra awesome. You can wash any of the goodness above down with eight flavors of Stubborn Soda from the fountain or get one to go in a bottle.


Chef Randy Duncan enjoys a plate with friends - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
Chef Randy Duncan enjoys a plate with friends
Photo by Doogie Roux

If you have a sweet tooth, and any room left in your tummy after downing the tasty meats and sides, there is dessert.The pecan pie here contains 50 percent less sugar than most normal pecan pies, but somehow has an amazingly sweet and savory flavor. Then there is the chocolate bread pudding. The taste of it sets off the endorphins and triggers some serious feel good sensations.


Chef Ara handing out free samples of his homemade chocolate bread pudding - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
Chef Ara handing out free samples of his homemade chocolate bread pudding
Photo by Doogie Roux

To top top it all off, it's a BYOB establishment. It's strongly recommended that you get there early or call ahead as they do sell out of this awesome BBQ. Harlem Road Texas BBQ is located at 9823 Harlem Road Richmond, . Business hours are Monday - Tuesday: closed, Wednesday – Friday: 3 p.m .until sold out, Saturday – Sunday: 11.a.m. until sold out.

Friends and family of Chef Ara gather at the end of Harlem Road Texas BBQ's first day of business - PHOTO BY DOOGIE ROUX
Friends and family of Chef Ara gather at the end of Harlem Road Texas BBQ's first day of business
Photo by Doogie Roux

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.