Beef ribs at Killen's Barbecue.

Image: Robb Walsh

Center Court Pizza & Brew

This is your best bet if you find yourself in Pearland, thirsty for a brew that’s not a Bud—not to mention some pizza to soak it all up with. Center Court specializes in thick, messy slices of pizza, spicy wings, pizza rolls, and pints. The craft beer selection here is extensive, and the place often nets sports-bar special releases such as Saint Arnold’s Divine Reserve and hosts parties for the prize pints. Of course, $10 pizza nights on Mondays are always a party.  

Central Texas Style BBQ

Barbecue isn’t the only thing to get at this homey joint—you’ll want to grab some of the family-run restaurant’s Cuban food alongside your brisket or shredded beef–stuffed baked potato. Just know that the Cuban dishes are off-menu items, often found only in unmarked steam trays or listed on pieces of paper stapled to the wall next to the long line of customers. Order a Cuban pressed sandwich with two kinds of pork, cheese, mustard, and pickles, or the rice and black beans as a side. Feeling ravenous? You can also order the Texas Challenge: a double baked potato loaded with six pounds of sausage and barbecue for $34.95. 

D’Caribbean Curry Spot

Family-owned and -operated D’Caribbean draws people from all over Houston who swear by the authenticity of its West Indian dishes. Curried chicken, beef, and shrimp roti plates are served with more curried potatoes and fluffy flatbread, while generous portions of spicy jerk chicken and oxtails come with sweet plantains and mounds of rice and peas. Don’t miss Trinidadian treats such as saheena and pilouri—both make great appetizers.

Killen’s Barbecue

This newly opened barbecue joint inside a renovated school cafeteria already sees lines rivaling those outside Franklin Barbecue in Austin—though Aaron Franklin doesn’t serve inventive ’cue like Ronnie Killen’s bone-in pork belly or sides like his creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, so expect the line at Killen’s to only grow over time. Get there around 9 a.m. if you plan to have lunch. The line starts moving when Killen’s opens at 11 a.m.; the barbecue usually lasts until 2 or 3 p.m. on weekdays, and goes much faster on the weekends. 

Killen’s Steakhouse

Don’t want to wait in line at chef Ronnie Killen’s barbecue joint? Visit the Pearland native’s original claim to fame, his dinner-only steakhouse down the street, though you’ll need to dress a little nicer before sitting down to a meal of American Wagyu bone-in ribeye, dry-aged in-house for 21 days, or real-deal Japanese Wagyu from Saga Prefecture (a four-ounce filet runs $100, and you can add an additional two ounces for $45). Save room for dessert: Killen’s is equally acclaimed for its crème brûlée bread pudding.

King’s Biergarten

There’s no need to book a ticket to Oktoberfest when you can hoist authentically massive pints of authentic German beer, served by cheerful women in sehr deutsche dirndls, at outlandish, sprawling German outpost King’s Biergarten, which overlooks the surprisingly picturesque Mary’s Creek. Owner and native Austrian Johann Sitter and his family, decked out in lederhosen, lead sing-alongs in German as they deliver plates stacked high with homemade sausages and strudel. 

Peña’s Donut Heaven

Peña’s isn’t just heaven for donuts. In the afternoon, affable owner Ray Peña trades the fryer for the griddle and turns out the best burgers you’ll find in the area, including the Bun B Burger with bacon, chili, cheese, and jalapeños, and the Hawaiian, topped with ham and pineapple. In the mornings, the shop quickly sells out of favorites like “dosants” (its version of cronuts), maple-bacon bars, and kolaches—but if you call ahead, Ray will set aside your order so it’s ready when you are.

Dossants (the Texan version of cronuts) at Peña's Donut Heaven.

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