Monday, February 02, 2004

Houston BBQ

Drexler's ribs, I am happy to report, are falling-apart tender and coated with tangy sauce, just like they were in the old joint. The Texas-style beans, finely chopped coleslaw and mashed potato salad are likewise still excellent. Drexler's brisket, a hit-or-miss proposition in years past, seems to have improved with the relocation. When I tried it for dinner the other night, it was extremely wet and very tender, though not particularly smoky.

The rest of the menu includes a lot of dubious innovations. A rib eye steak ordered medium rare was thin and tough. The steamed asparagus and new potatoes that came with it were plain. I also tried the shrimp kabobs, made with what appeared to be precooked frozen shrimp threaded on two wooden skewers with some red and green bell peppers in between, heated briefly on the grill without benefit of any marinade, glaze or discernible seasoning. And, oh boy, were they awful.

I stopped by the restaurant again at lunch the other day and picked up an order of hot links. ($11.95 for a pound of hot links with no sides?) Texas hot links are an African-American specialty, made with finely ground beef, lots of fat and plenty of red pepper. They ooze out of their casings, and you catch the meat on white bread and call it a sandwich.

Drexler's hot links aren't as greasy as the old-fashioned variety, so they taste dry. But the spice level is truly inspiring. Have a soda or some iced tea ready, because these babies will burn your mouth.

Drexler's World Famous BBQ
Details: Sliced beef plate: $8
Ribs: $8
Two meats: $9.75
Chicken wings: $5.95
Ribs, wings and eggroll appetizer plate: $10.95
Where: 2300 Pierce, 713-752-0008. Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; closed Sundays

Old Style 5th Ward BBQ

Here are Adrian Cooper's top five for true barbecue hounds:

J&J Lounge, 3303 Lee Street, 713-222-7104

J&J Lounge doesn't have lunch ready until two or three in the afternoon, but it stays open until 10 p.m. Get a brisket sandwich and some ribs, Cooper suggests. Be forewarned that this joint -- with its ramshackle pool room and cocktail lounge -- is not a place for small children, old ladies or the faint of heart.

Two Brothers Smokin' Oak Kitchen, 3001 Ennis, no phone

Leroy Wilson smokes meat seven days a week and sells great chopped brisket sandwiches and ribs out of the window of his trailer in a parking lot near Texas Southern University. The ribs are firm and meaty. Sides are available on weekends. There's a second truck in the Sam's parking lot on 610 South on the weekends.

Kozy Kitchen, 1202 Lockwood Drive, 713-673-7830

"The fatty part of the brisket is the best thing at Kozy Kitchen," Cooper says. Opened in 1946, Kozy Kitchen is the last of the Fifth Ward's once-famous black barbecue joints. It's a no-nonsense place with plastic forks and Styrofoam plates. There's no tea, and don't bother asking for peach cobbler. Order an "in and out" brisket sandwich, a mix of inside and outside cuts, and specify meat from the fatty end. This may be the only place you'll ever see barbecued veal.

Guy's Meat Market, 3106 Old Spanish Trail, 713-747-6800

"Ask for the sandwich they call a 'cardiac arrest' at Guy's. It's got lots of fatty bits from the end of the brisket on it," Cooper says. If you get there before noon, you might also try one of Guy's famous barbecue burgers. (Be sure to order it with barbecue sauce and jalapeƱos.) "The brisket at Guy's has been pretty good lately," Cooper says.

Davis Meat Market, 2204 Lockwood, 713-672-1803

"When I'm just picking up something to take home, I get the barbecue at Davis Meat Market," Cooper says. "The barbecued chicken is excellent." The smoked meats are stored cold here. You can heat them up later, or have the folks behind the counter microwave the brisket or ribs and make you a sandwich. Also available: cracklins, boudin and pickled pigs' lips.

143 Houston BBQ Listings

Check customer reviews at Houston B4-U-Eat

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