Look, I realize that we're spotlighting the World's Championship Bar-B-Que—you know, the massive 'cue cook-off that kicks off the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo each year and fills most of south Houston with the sweet, sweet smell of smoldering post oak—as one of the top things to do this weekend. But I'll be honest with you: it's not worth going unless you have a wristband.
A wristband will get you into one of the many private tents that are sponsoring the multitude barbecue cook-off teams competing in this year's event. If you don't have a wristband, expect to walk around awkwardly peering into corporate-owned tents with lavish spreads and entertainment options while you stare glumly from the outside like the little matchstick girl (or boy, whatever). Sure, you can purchase a plate of barbecue from the main tent and eat with the other unwristbanded plebes, but this barbecue isn't the championship stuff. I'm not honestly sure what it is, other than not good.
I repeat: unless you have a wristband, it's too cold outside and the parking at NRG is too much of a beast to bother with big cook-off. Instead, you'd be better served this weekend seeking out one of these two new barbecue options around town—both of which are champions in my book.
Despite the fact that it has the word "burgers" in its name, Jerry Built is the restaurant that made me love a chicken sandwich for the first time in my life. I hate chicken sandwiches. The breast is always lopsided and dry and what is the point exactly when you could be eating any other meat between a bun? Not so at JerryBuilt, where I'm not going to spoil the surprise of how the chicken sandwich is made so that you'll hopefully go investigate yourself.
While you're there, check out the Houston chain's new burger for the Rodeo season: the Outlaw. Yes, that's it in the photo above. Yes, that's chicken-fried bacon on top. You'll also find pulled pork (made in-house like literally everything else here, down to the buns and sweet potato fries), ghost pepper cheese, and barbecue sauce on top of an Angus beef patty. Of course, no barbecue plate would be complete without raw white onions and dill pickles, both of which the Outlaw stacks below that beef patty. The Outlaw runs you $10; I suggest adding an order of jalapeño fries and a Saint Arnold (beer or root beer!) to complete the Texan trifecta.
This recently renovated Richmond Ave. institution has partnered up with a champion barbecue team of its own—Hinzes Bar-B-Que in Wharton—for a seasonal selection of barbecue brisket kolaches. It's no coincidence that Wharton is the hometown of Kolache Shoppe owner Randy Hines; he purposely sought out the barbecue joint that, like his own shop, has been family-owned and run for over 40 years. It's a common theme at The Kolache Shoppe, where Hines regularly seeks out local vendors to partner with, most recently enlisting Junior's Smokehouse (also in Wharton) for the smoked venison and pork sausage kolaches on the regular menu.
The two Rodeo-inspired kolaches with Hinzes's barbecue come in two varieties: sweet brisket and a spicy twist that includes fresh jalapeño, each $3.75. While you're there, check out a few of The Kolache Shoppe's sweeter seasonal selections: strawberry-rhubarb featuring preserves from Garden Dreams Houston and lemon cream made with fresh lemon curd from Just Pure Flavors.