Last Saturday, the parking lot at the old Hickory Hollow and soon-to-be Killen's on Heights Boulevard was full. Near a tent full with families and eager foodies, Ronnie Killen and his staff members from across his hospitality company were smoking and frying meat. The seats under the tent were all occupied, so naturally, a couple guys ate from the back of their truck like they were tailgating.
Killen has hosted several pop-ups at this parking lot over the past few months, serving as periodic reminders of the restaurant that will soon go into the old space. The pitmaster announced he had leased out the property nearly a year ago, and after long pauses in work because of red tape, construction crews are finally working on filling in the space. Killen says he's about six weeks or so from the opening of Killen's, a comfort food concept that pays homage to his grandmother, so we're in the home stretch. Until then: outdoor cookouts.
And how. The Killen's pop-up menu last week looked like a weekend Texas cookout with buckets of fried chicken, chicken fried steak, tamales, and of course, sausage, pork ribs, brisket, beef ribs, turkey, and chicken sweating it out in the smoker. Sides available included macaroni and cheese, potato salad, barbecue beans, creamed corn, and mashed potatoes.
Naturally, it's all good. The fried chicken has a crispy shell, and its meat stays juicy. The barbecue half chicken is on another planet—painted with a sweet and peppery glaze with the juices oozing out from the meat. You know how good the mac and cheese and creamed corn is at Killen's Barbecue—this is that stuff.
The pop-ups should continue until Killen's is ready to go—while the next one isn't yet scheduled, chances are you'll have a few more opportunities to sample some chicken, beef, and pork before the new place opens. Meanwhile, the pitmaster is hoping to host another pop-up for his upcoming Woodlands location of Killen's Barbecue. We'll update when that's announced.