Special Barbecue Update: 9th Annual Houston Barbecue Festival
A celebration of the incredible barbecue scene in Houston, Texas
In this golden age of barbecue, the city of Houston has become a cultural destination for smoked meats. In order to show off the incredible barbecue scene that the nation’s most diverse city has to offer, the good folks at HouBBQ put together one hell of an event and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.
When I rolled up to the Humble Civic Center at 9:30AM ahead of the festival I was greeted with the type of weather you dream of for an event like this and the scent of smoke heavy in the air, a combination that set my mouth to watering in spite of the fact that the event wasn’t set to begin until noon. It was a double-edged sword as the sights and smells of the prep taking place were an enormous temptation but to be able to watch these incredibly talented pitmasters prep for a ravenous crowd was a real treat. 28 joints made the trip out to the festival so there was no shortage of delicious food being offered.
To narrow down the bites at the festival to one favorite is probably impossible. I did not have a single bad bite which is part of the reason I had to crawl back to my car after the event as walking was a little too difficult given the amount of ‘cue consumed. I will, however, talk about some of the bites that are still stuck in my head after experiencing the cornucopia of offerings.
First, I have to mention the beef cheek confit from Brett’s BBQ Shop in Katy. Served with mushrooms and a red wine reduction, I have to imagine it’s something we’ll be seeing on the menu there at some point because hooooooooly cow was this thing delicious. As you would expect from a city in Southeast Texas, there was also a nice Louisiana influence in the form of boudin. Southern Q, Feges BBQ (who also had some delectable rib tips with a Dr. Pepper glaze and a hot gut sausage), Roegel’s, Brotherton’s, and 1701 Barbecue all brought some of the stuff and my cajun cuisine loving self was very happy both with that development and with the recent prominence of boudin in the Texas Barbecue scene. Blood Bros. BBQ had a smoked & fried Peking pork rib that was unlike anything I have ever tasted.
The legendary Texas Twinkie was brought by Dozier’s. Daddy Duncan’s BBQ had a culinary creation they called “The Stick Burner”, which you can see pictured above. It consisted of smoked dirty rice topped with pulled pork, sweet & spicy sauce, garlic aioli, and cotija cheese. Yes it was as good as it sounds. Pictured below is the “Garden of Evil” from Nomad Barbecue. A diablo sauced quail egg on top of pork belly which in turn rested on a jalapeno-cheddr biscuit and a bed of mixed greens making for one of the more decadent bites of the day.
Killen’s was serving up some absolutely magnificent smash burgers, simple yet so effective. Pinkerton’s blessed us with Memphis-style pork on nachos, a meal that would probably be worth it’s weight in gold if any sporting event served them. I am sadly probably forgetting some additional deserving bites but you will have to forgive me as my head is still spinning from the day much like the pork belly lechon from Blood Bros. that you can find at this link.
Of course, there was way more to the festival than just the food. All of the incredible work put in by the staff who made this thing tick was evident to me in my time out there. I also loved getting to bask in the glory of barbecue with fellow fans from all over (shout out to you especially Jorge). There were so many incredible conversations with pitmasters but probably my favorite thing about the festival was just the sense of community I got by being out there around all of those hardworking folks. Just being a fly on the wall for some of the conversations between people who work in this infinitely challenging industry was a treasure. Moments like the one below where Patrick Feges of Feges BBQ and Leonard Botello IV of Truth BBQ worked together to create a little fire magic are the types of moments you only get to see at festivals like the 9th Annual Houston BBQ Festival and if all of this doesn’t convince you that you need to be in attendance next year, I just don’t know what will.
BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT, if you do need a little more convincing here’s some additional pictures:
This post was made possible by the good folks at HouBBQ allowing me out to cover the Houston BBQ Festival. It was a fantastic event and I really would encourage all of you to attend next year if you have the means. Until next time, thank you for joining me on this barbecue journey!