I have eaten enough east Texas barbeque to know that you can determine with a certain degree of accuracy on how good is the food by observing non-food clues long before you take your first bite of your meal. Although barbeque joints are not as prevalent as Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston, TX; there are more than enough for most people to have an opinion on the one’s they like best.
I have eaten at John-Wayne’s Smokehouse (now closed), Nonmachers, Swinging Door and ordered from Big Mike’s Barbeque Pit to name a few. Recently I had lunch with a friend at Carl’s BBQ located off of US 290N, just over a mile north of Huffmeister before Telge. For me, how full the parking lot is during the Friday lunch hour is not an indication, for it seems like most people eat out for lunch in Houston. As I walked into the restaurant, it was three things that let me know that I was going to enjoy my meal.
The first indication was a great cross section of Houston society. At one table there was a foursome of bikers, outfitted in their Harley clothing, at a couple tables there were mechanics and construction workers, a few tables of ties and white shirts (probably splattered with barbeque sauce), a couple of families and even a large table of friends for a birthday party. The second indicator was that the décor was not new, shining and looking like it was ordered from some restaurant décor catalogue. It was decorated in that lovable tacky east Texas way that is understated but everywhere there is something unique to view. There was even a fully stuffed deer that had seen better days. The third observation is that although the menu looked extensive, it was simply explained on boards above the serving line where you ordered your meal. The serving line was efficiently handled by the restaurant staff with patrons knowing what they wanted to order, a sure sign that their customer base is regulars.
There were numerous meats and sides to choose. I ordered the sausage, brisket with sides of potato salad and cole slaw. I enjoy good smoked east Texas barbeque, but sometimes I think that the smoking can be overdone and in turn remind me for hours afterwards that I had eaten barbeque. Not at Carl’s BBQ. The meats were perfectly smoked, tender and the brisket was trimmed of excessive fat which made it that much more enjoyable. Overall, it was a great meal, the perfect portions and for this Delaware boy living in Katy, TX wishing that Carl’s BBQ was located closer my house. Granted, a 30 minute drive is really nothing in Houston, TX.