Pot Luck

Help Us Find the Worst Barbecue in Houston

It's generally agreed upon that unless you have a fancy-pants tent ticket for the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (a.k.a. The Cookoff), the three-day-long 'cue contest isn't worth the price of admission. A poor, benighted visitor to Houston may think that The Cookoff -- and official kick-off to what is essentially the planet's biggest rodeo -- would be an excellent opportunity to taste some of the world's finest barbecue. But they'd be wrong.

What you get with a general admission ticket to The Cookoff is cafeteria-grade barbecue, the kind of stuff that any Texan should be ashamed to serve to visitors -- let alone fellow Texans. I say this with a lot of love for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo: It provided me with my first job out of college and nearly a lifetime's worth of pleasant memories both before and after that.

But if it were up to me, I'd nominate the non-tent, non-cookoff-team barbecue at the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest as the worst in Houston. Luckily for the Rodeo, it doesn't serve that barbecue all year round -- only through Cookoff.

However, there are plenty of other offenders throughout Houston serving some truly despicable barbecue. And we want your help finding them.

Last month, Gawker issued a call for its readers to help them find the worst hamburger in New York City. "There are a lot of bad hamburgers in New York City," wrote Gawker's Max Read, "and we mean to try them all."

Well, to quote local barbecue expert J.C. Reid: "Houston barbecue sucks."

It's a sentiment with which I agree, with only a few notable exceptions. And we here at EOW intend to try the really bad stuff so we can warn people away from the bad and steer them instead toward only the truly good barbecue, the stuff we can be proud to call Texas 'cue.

As with Gawker's call, we have a few of our own ground rules:

  • List the full name and address of the barbecue baddies in question
  • Tell us exactly what makes the barbecue there so bad (this goes to a question we'll hopefully address later: What exactly is Texas barbecue as defined from a Houston perspective?)
  • We're not burning anyone in effigy here; there's no need to be slanderous or over-the-top in your description of the 'cue, so keep it simple and to-the-point
  • Make sure this is a barbecue restaurant we can actually try; no church potlucks or tailgating teams

At the end of the week, we'll round up the suggestions into a poll. Next Monday, we'll have our readers vote on the five worst barbecue restaurants for our panel of experts to try. And by the end of this month, we hope to have an answer to the question: Where is the worst barbecue in Houston?

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Katharine Shilcutt