Gatlin’s BBQ, located just a few miles from downtown Houston, might have the best motto we’ve ever run into on our barbecue tours.
“Welcome to Gatlin’s,” the sign said. “Where love is the secret ingredient.”
And if you want to experience the reality of life in a no-zoning, anything-goes big city, this is the place.
Next door is a garden expo that looks like a nursery. Directly across the street are an engine repair business, a house where people live and an automotive sales building.
Welcome to Houston.
Gatlin’s gets rave reviews from some, but the Posse was underwhelmed.
“If this is the best Houston has to offer, we’ve kicked their ass,” Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins said, referring to the Dallas area.
Houston photographer Smiley Pool, who sandwiched a tour of duty at The Dallas Morning News between working at the Houston Chronicle, joined the Posse on this stop.
In Houston, Pool observed, “everyone says that if you want good barbecue you pile in a car and take a two-hour drive.” He referred to the great joints in Central Texas.
The Posse agrees. At Gatlin’s, we ordered brisket, ribs and chicken. To begin with, the service was excruciatingly slow. Then, the brisket was moist, but bland. And the ribs and chicken were just O.K.
“It’s a lot of O.K.,” Posse member Jim Rossman said.
Of course, you might want to discount Rossman’s opinion just a bit. On a solo run to City Market in Luling that morning, he had what he called the best rib he had ever eaten.
“Moist, creamy, crunchy perfection,” Rossman said.
Yes, the best barbecue in Houston is two hours away.
Photos ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse