The concept is markedly dissimilar to the standard Pappas Bar-B-Q brand on many levels. For one, the full service bar, restaurant and scratch kitchen is more upscale than any traditionally casual Pappas Bar-B-Q location. This is no counter-service, pay by weight, in-and-out kind of joint. It's a craft cocktails and beer, prime steaks on the menu, $33 for a three-meat plate kind of joint.
When it opened, Delta Blues was perhaps the first of its kind in Houston. Goode Company had already introduced the upscale BBQ-Tex-Mex concept earlier the same year with their Kitchen & Cantina opening in the Woodlands. And Ronnie Killen had, the year before, wowed with his even more upscale, beef-centric Killen's STQ. Both concepts incorporated elements of their creators' initial concepts into new menus. Still, Delta Blues is something else altogether. An expressly barbecue-focused upscale reinvention of the Pappas Bar-B-Q name.
While the moist slices were far too fatty, with a near 50/50 ratio of actual meat to pure fat, the so-called "lean" slices were essentially perfect. A bark-covered fat cap sat atop a thick slice of perfectly tender and flaky beef. Smoke flavor was plentiful and the coloring consistent. On quality of brisket Delta Blues Smokehouse scores an 8/10.
Smoked until bones are little more than formalities, these ribs were thoroughly glazed, with a thin and chewy outer bark concealing small slabs of tender meat.
Our two-meat rib combo came with two sides: Brussels sprouts and creamed corn pudding. The former was drab. Under-steamed and under-seasoned, the preparation did little to mask the sprouts' natural bitterness. The latter, however, shone. Thick not watery, the corn's natural sweetness countered by the slight heat of jalepenos and taste of cilantro. Other sides choices include pit-smoked pork and beans, chilled kale and buttered mashed potatoes. On quality of sides Delta Blues Smokehouse scores a 6.5/10.
With a Dallas-area location on its way (set to open in September) the Delta Blues Concept may well replace the original Pappas chain in the future. A possibility this writer is admittedly giddy about. Despite its prices, Delta Blues is a top-flight Houston smokehouse. One of the finest smoked meat establishments in and of Houston, and a brilliant combination of Texan and non-Texan barbecue traditions. While the original Pappas often feels like a bad parody of Houston barbecue, Delta Blues is the saving shot of adrenaline the company desperately needed.