Customers wait for the 11am opening of Killen's BBQ in Pearland on Saturday morning. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Even before we had finished eating at Killen's Barbecue in Pearland on Saturday, the great debate began.

"When you factor everything in, this is the best barbecue place in Texas," declared Posse co-founder Chris Wilkins.

We ate brisket, pork ribs, pork belly, beef ribs, turkey and sausage. Everything was excellent -- moist, flavorful and nicely cooked.

On a scouting mission in May, Posse member Jim Rossman called the food at Killen's, which opened in a permanent location early this year, "spectacular." Allison Cook, the restaurant critic at the Houston Chronicle recently gave the joint that newspaper's highest rating, four stars. We wouldn't argue.

Wilkins also pointed out that on a warm, humid, rainy Gulf Coast morning, we were sitting comfortably inside an air conditioned restaurant. Trailer joints, charming as they can be, lose some attraction when it's very hot or very cold or raining.

There were six Posse members on our 35-hour, 610-mile barbecue tour to the Houston area. While a couple of us agreed with Wilkins about Killen's, a couple others urged more restraint before making such a declaration.

We continued our debate on the drive back to Dallas. Each of us rated, in no particular order, our five favorite places, joints that we'd drive across the state to visit, or recommend to good friends to do the same.

Three places made everyone's list: Killen's, la Barbecue in Austin and Pecan Lodge in Dallas.

Four other places received mentions, but weren't unanimous: Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor and Miller's Smokehouse in Belton.

Franklin, run by now-celebrity pit master Aaron Franklin, is often mentioned as the best place in the state, but it made only three Posse members' lists. Daniel Goncalves said he would never recommend to anyone that they go there because of the long lines.

Every meat we tasted at Killen's BBQ was perfectly cooked. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)

Phil Lamb, who included Franklin on his list, noted the barbecue renaissance in Texas.

"It is an important factor that enough people caught up to Franklin that you don't have to put them on your must-go-to list," Lamb said.

And Wilkins, so adamant in his initial support of Killen's, came up with a different No.1 when he altered his criteria a bit.

"If there's one place in the world I would send someone so they would understand Texas barbecue, it would be Snow's on a Saturday morning," he said.

Let the great barbecue debate continue.

Houston Redemption BBQ Tour

Friday 6/27
7:45am: Leave Dallas

10:30am: CorkScrew BBQ, 24930 Budde Rd., Spring, 832-592-1184. Open Tues-Sat 11am-til the meat runs out. Website: (Texas Monthly Top 50)

1pm: Virgie's Bar-B-Que, 5535 Gessner Dr., Houston, 713-466-6525. Open Tues 11am-2pm, Wed-Fri 11am-6:30pm, Sat 11am-5:30pm. Website: (Texas Monthly Top 50)

3pm: Brooks' Place, 18020 FM 529, Cypress, 832-893-1682. Open Wed-Sun 11am-til the meat runs out. Website: Website: (Texas Monthly Top 50)

7:10pm: Detroit Tigers @ Houston Astros, Minute Maid Park.

Overnight in Houston, Club Quarters Houston hotel

Saturday 6/28
10:30am: Killen's BBQ, 3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, 281-485-2272. Open Tues-Sun 11am-until they run out of meat. Website:

1pm: Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack, 4529 Old Spanish Trail, Houston, 713-748-4227. Open Mon-Sat 11am-8pm. Website:

3pm: Brisket House, 5775 Woodway, Houston, 281-888-0331. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sat 11am-6pm. Website:

4:00pm: Head back to Dallas

The Posse enjoys an incredible spread of smoked meat at Killen's BBQ. L-R: Phil Lamb, Tom Fox, Daniel Goncalves, Jim Rossman, Gary Jacobson & Chris Wilkins. (Photo by Bryan Norton)


Austin Top 5 plus Snow's

Texas BBQ Posse eBook Let the Meat Speak for Itself

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Texas BBQ Posse eBook Let the Meat Speak for Itself

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