JJ's Cluckers satiates poultry-loving palates with an extensive menu of flavorsome fowl served in a fun and family-oriented setting. Warm up incisors with pickle chips—battered and fried dill slices served with ranch dressing ($5.25)—before treating taste buds to sauce-soused wings ($7.99 for 10 bone-in wings). Liquid wing enhancers range from the silky-smooth honey barbecue to the hotter chipotle to the scorching code 5150, which provides an epicurean experience akin to hacky sacking a lava rock with your tongue.
The grill gurus at Railroad Crossing BBQ pack a menu with meat-focused eats, inviting guests to dine inside restored train cars. Perfect for restaurant-wide games of catch, baked potatoes stuff themselves with butter, sour cream, and cheese ($4.99) or your choice of protein ($7.99). Combinations of beef, links, pork tenderloin, ham, turkey, and chicken define Railroad Crossing BBQ's dinner platters, which are protected by moats of homemade sauce and feature names such as Brakeman (choice of one meat, $7.99), Conductor (ribs, $10.99), and Engineer (choice of three meats, $10.99). Both chicken-fried steak ($7.99) and fried-chicken tenderloins ($7.99) are served with two of the eatery's Side Tracks, such as coleslaw, pinto beans, or railroad ties—french fries designed to be strong enough to support the weight of a caboose.
You can tell a good barbecue joint when one of its menu sections is simply titled "Meats." These meats slay the bland and defend the savory. Smoked for hours in a solid brick pit (originally built in 1934), Pizzitola's spareribs leap off the bone and onto your plate ($9 a half pound) or into your car with a Grab a Slab takeout special ($17.85), while the chicken turns buttery soft beneath skin cracked and crisped ($8 by the half pound, on the bone). The rough-textured sausage, made as it has been for years by two Czech brothers in Cistern, sidles up well against pinto beans and mustardy potato salad ($12.45), while the chopped beef-brisket-stuffed baked potato with sour cream, butter, melted cheese, and green onions ($9) demolishes even a large to extra-large linebacker. Hydrate with an Arnold Palmer ($2) or a couple bottles of domestic suds ($3).
The Brisket House allows meataholics and barbecaddicts to satisfy smoky cravings with a menu of meaty favorites, all smoked with a combination of oak and pecan. Tear into the restaurant's signature "Brisket House Special," with your choice of meat (house sausage, hot sausage, brisket, pork ribs, turkey, or chicken) alongside a slab of cheddar cheese, a whole pickle, onion, and bread. Orders come in sizes of six ounces ($7.50 for one meat), eight ounces ($9 for choice of up to two meats), and one pound ($18 for choice of up to four meats). Guests can back the stomach truck right up to the counter and order smoked meat by the pound—1/3 pound ($4.50), 1/2 pound ($6.50), or one pound of juicy, flavor-dripping slow-fired goodness ($12). For people who want to rain sides on the meaty parade, The Brisket House slings up half-pints ($2.50–$2.75), full pints ($4.50–$4.95), or quarts ($6.95–$7.50) of appetizing accompaniments, with a three-meat plate ($11.50) and choice of two sides.
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.