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June 10, 2008

Meaty Greetings from Houston

Otto's BBQ
Smoked offerings from Otto's.
Photo: kfdm.com

by Julia Bainbridge

As promised, I ate my way around Houston and I'm here to tell you about it.

Reeling from the success of my ice cream experiment, I celebrated with some Goode Company barbecue. From what my GlorifiedYetNamelessTexanFriend told me, Houstonians prefer to smoke beef, not pork. Sure, you can find spare ribs and the like in this town, but what makes Houston truly meat-tastic is the beef brisket and the Czech sausage. Loaded onto a plate with cole slaw, jambalaya Texana (rice with bits and pieces of ham, onion, and Lord knows what else), and Jalapeno bread and washed down with Shiner Bock; it doesn't get much better (or more filling). Don't miss the pecan pie at the end, topped with Blue Bell ice cream. My Virginian grandmother would have a fit, but I admit Goode Company's rivals her pecan pie. (As I type, I can feel her hands planting firmly on her hips and her head cocking sideways in consternation. Thankfully, she's not the most Internet-savvy cook.) A note to New York BBQ (and, well, all) joints: Goode Company has cafeteria-style communal tables outside that sit under fans spraying nosh-happy customers with cool mist. We could use some of that.

Otto's is the other BBQ place to try in H-town. I'm not going to say much here, so as not to affect your experience with my own. Just go.

At 10:30 p.m., I passed out cold, tummy full, only to be awakened the next morning by the smell of the Kolache Factory. A nondescript building in a strip mall, Houston's outpost of this chain is nothing to look at. But the Polish take on pigs in a blanket was just the thing to rouse my senses for another day o' meat. These guys wrap all kinds of things inside fluffy bread rolls--eggs, cheese, bacon--but the Houston-Slavic classic, I'm told, is sausage and cheese. So that's what I had. Twice.

For lunch, it was on to Ninfa's for chicken fajitas (had to throw some poultry in there). I'm not sure if this classified as Tex-Mex or what, but it was sizzling and it was very enjoyable. Also enjoyable were my lunch dates, jewelry designer Seanna Harrington, her husband, and their adorable, 11-month-old daughter, Ivy. (Kudos to Ninfa's for being quick and painless with high chairs and guacamole galore for our little teething wonder.)

Unfortunately, I only had a weekend to taste what Houston has to offer, and part of that weekend was spent dining at people's homes (although fortunately for me, the dinner party was delicious all around). I did stop through some of the city's best, though. My only regret is not picking up some Whataburger for the flight home. Oh well, I guess there's always Austin. I'll be there later this summer for more BBQ-in-action, and you'll be hearing about it.

Further reading:
* Two Texans had a lot to say about the last post
* Texan burgers at the Love Shack
* Could NYC rival Texas BBQ?

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