Austin might get all the fanfare when it comes to Texas barbecue, but Houston can hold its own. And while you'd be hard-pressed to find a Houstonian who doesn't love chowing down on a plate piled high with succulent, smoked meat, there's more to a meal than just protein.
Some barbecue joints consider sides an afterthought, but not these seven. Here, the pitmasters and chefs put just as much care into their beans as they do their brisket. For delicious barbecue that also comes with good, quality sides, try out one of these great Houston eateries.
This Pearland hot spot tops just about every "Best Barbecue" list for Houston, but while the beef brisket and pork ribs tend to steal the show, the sides are tasty, too. Like its barbecued meat, Killens' sides are basics prepared really well. The baked beans, cole slaw, and green beans are delicious pairs to meat plates, but the creamed corn, in particular, is worth ordering all on its own. It's crisp and chewy—not mushy like at many barbecue joints—and swims in a salty, sweet cream that is surprisingly light and refreshing.
Pro tip: Killens is the worst kept secret in Houston. Peak times on the weekends have lines going out the door and down the street, so expect a decent wait before getting to sit down and eat.
If you find yourself downtown for work, jury duty, or an Astros game, it's hard to find better barbecue than at Jackson Street. This downtown hot spot is within throwing distance from Minute Maid Stadium and a short walk from the METRORail's Convention District station.
Consistently ranked one of the best barbecue places in Houston, Jackson Street BBQ has killer meats, yes, but the sides are what keeps you coming back. The deep-fried mac and cheese is far from healthy, but it is delightful. Cube-shaped and crunchy with a cheesy, gooey center, it's the best side in the joint. Jackson Street also serves bread from Houston's beloved Slow Dough Bread Co., so you know they care about quality.
Pro tip: If you're planning on stopping by before an Astros game, get there early. It gets busy quick. Or better yet, avoid the game day crowds, and instead swing by for happy hour Monday-Friday from 4-7 p.m.
The pitmaster at this family-owned and operated restaurant knows that barbecue isn't just a cuisine, it's a calling. Rayford S. Busch—also known as "Ray"—started making barbecue as a side gig in a food truck, selling to the late-night crowd outside of dance clubs. His barbecue became so popular, he quit his day job at the sheriff's department to man the pit full time and open a brick-and-mortar location.
Dinner plates come with two sides, but do yourself a favor and just make them both the fried corn on the cob. When it comes to Texas barbecue, corn totally counts as a vegetable, and the crunchy, salty coating around the sweet corn is nothing short of amazing.
If smoked meats aren't your thing, Ray's also has a full menu of other entree options, including po'boys, fish, salad, and burgers.
Brookstreet has locations throughout Houston, but the Montrose spot is arguably the one to go to. The restaurant's location, near the corner of Westheimer and Montrose in the heart of the neighborhood, is a renovated home with a cute outdoor patio and a cozy ambiance. Best of all, this location has a drive-through.
You might come for the meat, but you'll stay for the baked potato casserole. Made up of fluffy mashed potato, cheese, and pieces of savory bacon, it's one of the site's most popular sides. In lieu of the tasteless slice of white bread typically served at other barbecue joints, Brookstreet uses a high-quality bread that's light and flavorful. While the serving sizes are bountiful, be sure to save some room for dessert. The bread pudding alone is reason enough to swing by.
Just on the other side of US-59, The Pit Room is a contender in a neighborhood known for killer barbecue. This Montrose-area spot is a short drive from both the Med Center and the Museum District, and while it gets busy during peak times, the line moves fairly quickly.
The Pit Room has plenty of deliciously smoked meats, but if you're not feeling it, the menu also has features great sides and alternative entrees to choose from. The mustard potato salad—with its mashed potatoes and chunks of hard-boiled egg—is a fan favorite. Smothered in just the right combo of mustard and mayo, it's light enough to pair with a full meat platter without making you want to roll out of the place. Portion sizes are huge, so be prepared to share.
Pinkerton's Barbecue isn't just the best barbecue in the Heights area. It's also a beacon. During the massive flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, Pinkerton's stayed open through the storm to offer a warm, dry place for cooped up locals to get out of the house, enjoy a hot meal, and be among friends during a tough time in the city's history.
Anyone who steps inside can see that owner and pitmaster Grant Pinkerton has as much love for food as he does for his neighbors. All meats and sides are prepared from scratch daily from beloved family recipes. The jalapeño cheese rice is especially a must-try, as the creamy, slightly gooey rice has a bit of a welcome kick. Finish it all off with a piece of the stellar banana cake on the patio, and you'll be in hog heaven.
The Brisket House
For great barbecue at a good price, it's hard to beat The Brisket House. Located in the Uptown/Galleria area of Houston, this cozy, no-frills restaurant has become a regular go-to for locals looking to get their fix of jalapeño sausage or pulled pork.
Like its portion sizes, The Brisket House doesn't skimp on the number of side options. In addition to the basics, you can get slightly healthier picks like mashed sweet potato or a house salad. But the baked potato is the favorite among many locals. Get it loaded with sour cream and cheese, or stuffed with your choice of barbecue meat. Either way, it can be a meal in itself.