A dreary, rain-filled day couldn't keep Houston barbecue aficionados away from Saint Arnold's Brewery on Sunday afternoon to indulge on meat, meat, and more meat. Everything from pork belly spring rolls, skirt steak churrasco, fried chicken and tamales were on the menu for this Houston versus Austin battle of the pitmasters. This inaugural HOU-ATX BBQ Throwdown was organized by the Houston Barbecue Festival which will take place next year on tax day, April 15, 2018.
The premise of this event was simple: Who has the best barbecue, Houston or Austin? A strong lineup from the Austin-area included barbecue joints Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue, Hays Co. Bar-B-Que, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats and Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. Houston competed with Beaver’s, The Brisket House, El Burro & the Bull, Gatlin’s BBQ, Harlem Road Texas BBQ, Killen’s BBQ, My Yard Reaction BBQ, The Pit Room and Tin Roof BBQ.
Over 500 ticket holders and lucky guests had the pleasure to sample each of the barbecue competition entries as well as enjoy great Saint Arnold beer. Each barbecue joint was in line for two trophies, the Judge's Trophy, selected by the barbecue judging panel that included pitmaster Will Buckman of CorkScrew BBQ, Houston Chronicle restaurant critic Alison Cook, barbecue photographer Robert J. Lerma, pitmaster Wayne Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue and Texas Monthly food editor Patricia Sharpe, and the People's Choice trophy.
The MC of the event was Craig Hlavaty of Chron.com and Newsfix. Once it was time to award the winners, the two trophies were showcased center stage, each with a mini barbecue smoker affixed as their crown. The People's Choice trophy was won by Austin's LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, who also co-won the Judge's trophy with Austin's Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue. Besides the delicious food, the best part of the competition was witnessing the camaraderie between the pitmasters and their teams. Austin may have come out on top, but with such amazing barbecue in Texas, we all win.