| Meat! |

Unassuming and Delicious: The Hickory Barn

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When is it appropriate, even necessary, to have two pounds of barbecue ribs and a whole pecan pie in your carry-on luggage? When you're off to Miami to visit the friend who introduced you to, IMHO, some of the best barbecue in Houston, a care package from the Hickory Barn is the best way to say I love you. The Hickory Barn is an unassuming slice of barbecue heaven, located in a shopping center off Wilcrest. I've been eating there for at least 15 years.

Paul Kiddy moved to Houston from Mississippi in the early 1950s and opened his first place, Paul's Kitchen, shortly after moving to town. He later added locations and brought each of his five brothers to manage the kitchens. Bobby Kiddy may be the last remaining brother from the original Kiddy clan, but together with his niece, Shiree Nichols, his wife Vicky and daughter Debra, they are keeping Paul's traditions alive and well at the Hickory Barn.

There's just something about Hickory Barn's food that makes me plan my next visit before leaving the restaurant. It may be the secret rub that has not changed in 60 years, the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, the incredibly moist brisket, or the ribs that literally fall off the bone. And don't get me started on the pork.

Kiddy's serves the Cadillac of baked potatoes, piled high with the usual trimmings and your choice of meat: Chappel Hill sausage, brisket, pork, chicken or turkey. By the time they're done with it, you have a two-and-a-half-pound potato in front of you.

The fried catfish is also excellent -- piping hot, flaky and moist. The catfish comes along with perfect hand-cut fries that are crisp on the outside and crazy-creamy on the inside.

Hickory Barn is a must if you like good food in an unpretentious environment. Go for the barbecue, catfish or salad, and top it off with MawMaw's peach cobbler, and you will not be disappointed.

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