The 2018 Houston Barbecue Festival In Pictures—And Some Of Our Favorite Bites

As usual, the 2018 Houston Barbecue Festival seemed to be a roaring success with many attendees. The mild, sunny day with temperatures in the low 70s couldn’t have been better.

An increase in barbecue purveyors this year meant shorter lines at most booths. There were a few exceptions. Huge lines persisted at the Truth Barbeque booth and Killen’s Barbecue, which wasn’t exactly surprising.

This was the first year the festival was held at the Humble Civic Center. From those traveling from inside the 610 Loop, it was an easy Sunday drive up I-69. The new venue meant free parking—and more flexibility with which craft beers could be served thanks to not being subject to another company’s beverage contracts. The Saint Arnold Beer Garden sported three serving stations. Based on the perpetual lines, festival goers were thirsty for a taste of the company’s local brews.

We didn’t get to try everything, but here are some of the best bites we had at the festival:

    • El Burro & The Bull’s Smoked Pork Cochinita Pibil served on top of a delicate, housemade organic blue corn chip with a side of smoked avocado gazpacho.
    • Smoked pork belly from Roegels Barbecue Co.
    • Willow’s Texas BBQ’s rich, moist brisket and spicy creamed corn.
    • Ray’s BBQ Shack’s battered, deep-fried mini corn-on-the-cob with brisket alongside.
    • Louie Muller Barbecue’s beef rib bites.
    • Buck’s Barbeque’s smoked boudin (sourced from J&R’s) topped with crawfish gravy.
    • Victorian Barbecue’s smoked tri-tip with chimichurri.
    • CorkScrew BBQ’s sweet and spicy ribs and bowtie macaroni salad.
    • Killen’s Barbecue’s Korean-style ribs.
    • Feges BBQ’s smoked wings with Alabama white sauce, plus their PB&J cake.
    • Tin Roof BBQ’s chuck beef rib with housemade jalapeño and cheddar beef sausage.
    • Blood Bros BBQ’s bulgogi bao, Thai green curry boudin, and Thai peanut butter pork belly burnt ends on papaya salad.
    • Tejas Barbecue & Chocolate’s chocolate panna cotta.
    • Fluff Bake Bar’s “Star-Crossed Lovers,” a chocolate-covered rice krispie bar with sea salt.

Collectively, the offerings at this year’s festival showed a maturing of the Houston barbecue scene—one that is defined by more than the influence of central Texas barbecue culture. A look at the list above reveals ingredients and dishes pulled from the cuisines of Louisiana, Mexico, Korea, Argentina and even Italy.

In addition, the sides have become as important as the meats. Many on display this year boasted interesting twists or housemade ingredients, such as the blue corn chips from El Burro & The Bull. The chocolate panna cotta served by the Tejas Barbecue barbecue booth and the Big Red ice cream from Buck’s Barbeque were as fine as any and both were a refreshing respite from the heavy meats.

While Houston BBQ Festival co-founder (and Houston Chronicle barbecue columnist) J.C. Reid can’t yet confirm any details for next year’s event, he still had one simple but important thing to say:

“Thanks to all the volunteers, barbecue joints, sponsors and guests for a great festival!”

Thanks also to Houston Food Finder barbecue columnist Scott Sandlin for the photo ID help and contributions to the best bites list.

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