“Low and slow are the keywords” at Gatlin’s BBQ according to the Houston Press, which named this “bourgeoning barbeque empire” the area's best barbeque restaurant in both 2010 and 2011. It's easy to see why: that old school approach yields succulent smoked meats such as sliced brisket, ribs, and pulled pork, each cut so tender it falls to pieces at the touch of a fork or the sound of the opening bars to "Unchained Melody". Lines have been known to form out the door of the tiny converted house, throngs of customers eager to get their hands on sandwiches or meaty plates paired with sides like ranch style beans and dirty rice or desserts like lemon butter cake and peach cobbler. But the premium smoked meats aren't the only winning recipe here: the Houston Press also praises the “service with a smile” that accompanies every meal.
If the “Tortoise and the Hare” taught us anything, it’s that slow and steady wins the race. And at Tony's Barbecue & Steak House, slow and steady cooking has ordinary dinners beat with pork ribs and brisket that spend a good 12 hours sizzling over South Texas hickory. The barbecue meals are joined by hearty steaks, smoked ham and turkey plates, and quail dinners. Many of the menu items are cooked with one of founder Antonio Ruiz's secret recipes for dirty rice, barbecue sauce, and pork and brisket rubs. Before opening the first Tony’s Barbecue in Baytown, Ruiz spent 15 years developing his craft at a local barbecue restaurant in Houston.
When husband-and-wife team Otto and Annie Sofka first founded Otto's Barbecue and Hamburgers in 1950, they never dreamed barbecue would become the meat and potatoes of the family's livelihood. The small corner grocery store specialized in canned and boxed goods—that is until Annie started cooking up hamburgers at the request of hungry regulars. As the popularity of Annie’s burgers grew, the store’s shelves were cleared out to make room for tables and chairs to accommodate the growing lines of customers. Within two years, the Sofkas were officially in the burger business. By the ’60s, they were ready to add old family barbecue recipes to the menu, and Otto’s has been a favorite pit stop for Houston barbecue lovers ever since.
Three generations have now manned the kitchen at Otto’s, satisfying customers as varied as George Bush Sr., Liberace, and George Foreman with barbecue that has been smoked in a hickory grill for 18 hours. Chefs pair seven meat choices, including beef brisket, slow-smoked pork ribs, and sausage links, with a range of homestyle sides and giant stuffed potatoes, creating full meals that showcase the flavors of the South better than an art installation built from chicken-fried steaks. The chefs at Otto’s also serve up their own line of bottled sodas, ensuring enough frothy root beer, orange soda, and cream soda to wash down the saucy eats.
Dickey?s Barbecue Pit has smoked beef brisket in-house nearly every night since 1941, painting each morsel with a tangy house-made sauce. Pulled pork, turkey breast, and polish sausage round out the menu with meals that are heartier than a burrito wrapped in Paul Bunyan?s plaid shirt. Boxed lunches and catered buffets brim with homestyle sides such as coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese, and jalape?o beans. Once the last pickle has been crunched and the last finger has been licked, guests can savor one of the restaurant?s most cherished traditions: a vanilla cone, on the house.
Kobecue combines flavors from the far east of Asia with those popular in the American southwest. Nowhere is this marriage more evident than its fusion tacos, where short ribs and spicy pork come dressed with onion, cilantro, and Kobecue's special sauces, and stuffed inside white corn tortillas or a self-addressed envelope. Those same meats can also be found in a hot stone bowl, sizzling just above a bed of rice and just below a fried egg, it's yolk begging to be broken and mixed in to a custom-chosen selection of veggies and scratch-made sauces. Kobecue’s signature burgers, meanwhile, feature bibimbob sirloin beef in place of a traditional patty, and arrive topped with spicy mayonnaise and all the fixings, while their Korean barbecue plates make a hefty meal out of angus steaks and short ribs served with rice, soup, and vegetables.