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The 10 Best Houston Barbecue Joints That Showcase The Best Texas Flavors

Space City's selection of smoked meats will have you over the moon.

There's no question about it: Houston barbecue is phenomenal. It's always been better than most places in the U.S. (we are talking about Texas, after all). But in recent years, Space City's 'cue scene has really grown into itself. No longer can Austinites claim to stand head and shoulders above their barbecue brother, who lives a couple of hours away.

What makes Houston barbecue unique to Austin BBQ or Dallas BBQ is that it borrows the best from each of the state's regions. Through the '50s, the city's pitmasters embraced East Texas-style barbecue of slow-roasted meats slathered in a sweet, tomato-based sauce. However, there were also a significant number of BBQ joints in Bayou City that served sausage and pork-heavy dishes with a Cajun twist. By the '60s, brisket had joined the fray, cooked low and slow and rubbed with little more than salt and pepper — classic Central Texas style.

Houston experienced a bit of a BBQ Dark Age in the '90s, where automated pits saw restaurants churning out heaps of fast, cheap, and poor-quality barbecue. But in the mid-2000s, the all-wood smokers were back with a vengeance, propelling Houston's return to the top.

Today, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, and Tex-Mex traditions have also been added to the melting pot — er, pit — making Houston a primo destination for some of the most diverse and delectable smoked meats of all the best BBQ cities in the country.

Here are some of Houston's most essential barbecue establishments.

READ MORE: The 10 Best BBQ Joints in Nashville That Define Music City's Tasty 'Cue