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Houston's Best Barbecue Spots

Where there's smoke, there's often good meat, at least in Texas, and Space City has some smoking-great places to indulge in Texas 'cue, including these top spots.

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Pinkerton's BBQ

Helmed by Grant Pinkerton — a young, untrained pitmaster who realized his dream of smoking meats and quickly earned fame among Houston's major players — this quaintly attractive Heights restaurant boasts an honest menu with a lot of heart. Chopped beef sandwiches heaping with meat are served on fluffy jalapeno buns, and you can (and should) get your pork ribs glazed for a finger-licking finish.

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Harlem Road Texas BBQ

At Richmond's Harlem Road BBQ, Swiss-born chef Ara Malekian —who sharpened his chops under the direction of Wolfgang Puck — presents his take on Texas 'cue in a no-frills setting. Fatty brisket, sausage and beef ribs are slow-smoked and incorporate a distinct flavor from being cooked over wood from vintage oak wine barrels. Sides and desserts are classic and well-executed, but here, the meat is unquestionably the main attraction.

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Truth Barbeque

Pitmaster and owner Leonard Botello IV first started smoking meats in small-town Brenham, serving meats and gooey mix-and-match sides at Truth. Now, the robust, earthy flavor of Central Texas-style 18-hour smoked brisket is available within Houston city limits at his Washington Corridor hangout. The whole truth is that the menu features all of the Brenham staples including tender house-made sausage, juicy duroc pulled pork — a bright pink contrast to some of the darker proteins — and pork ribs, shiny and thick to the touch. Pro tip: Save room for Botello’s mother’s banana caramel cake, a multi-layer concoction made extra festive with caramel drizzle and Heath Bar crumble.

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Pappas Bar-B-Q

As one of the pioneering restaurant families in the city, the Pappases have brought world-class 'cue to the greater Houston area for over 50 years. Consistency is key at their various locations, known for their meats cooked over hickory and mesquite on-site and their sides made fresh daily. The chopped-beef baked potato is a house favorite: An oversized Idaho russet is dressed in butter and sour cream and finished off with a generous topping of crisp bacon bits and shredded cheddar.

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