I have proclaimed my love of Kansas City barbecue on this very venue a many a times. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the place that I currently reside is also known for being home of the best barbecue in the country as well (I only acknowledge Texas, Memphis and KC for this accolade!). When I mention that I have a food blog there are certain places that people always ask if I have visited, Killen’s in Pearland usually tops the list. When I say that I have not been, there is initial shock and then I have to explain that I really only get excited for Kansas City barbecue. Also, that I have this thing about eating outside the 610 loop and for sure the beltway!! I also note, that I do not do lines, I make reservations. During my trip to Buffalo Bayou Brewery with a friend and his coworkers, the conversation started the same, but this time they were adamant that I go to Killen’s! It was decided that we would go on Sunday morning to get ahead of the line and make a day of it by tailgating until they opened.
Killen’s Barbecue and Tailgating
The things I do for this blog y’all! Here I was on a Sunday morning, the lords day, making the thirty minute drive to Pearland to get in line for some barbecue at 8:30am ,when the place does not even open until 11am!!! When I arrived there was no line just yet. *insert side eye* By 9am, folks were beginning to join us in line and by 10am it was a full on line to the parking lot. To pass the time we played some games and drank mimosas. We also brought chairs which I was grateful for. As the line grew I felt like the Queen sitting at the front of the line while everyone else could only hope that barbecue would be left by the time they made it through the doors.
When 11am rolled around I could proudly say “I’m first in lineeeeee” (*in my Ren and Ten Hip Hop Dalmatians voice*). We busted through the doors and placed our orders with the friendly staff. The owner was even there to greet us and once he knew we that a good portion of our group were KC barbecue aficionados, he offered us some sausage and ribs to prove that his barbecue is the best around.
For my food, I ordered the three meat plate which comes with two sides. I picked, fatty brisket, sausage and a pork rib. I grabbed an order of bread pudding too because after waiting for several hours I earned a dessert. The collard greens and mac and cheese were good for what it was. I didn’t expect them to have a chef in the back trained in the art of soul food. When you think about it in that way, then those traditional soul food dishes were good! Oh and that bread pudding! This was my first time trying croissant bread pudding, but my goodness every bread pudding should be made with croissants. It made for the best snack after I awoke from my food coma. It is a must try.
For the meats, the key thing I believe that keeps everyone lining up is the quality of the meat. These are good quality grass fed cows! For example, the beef rib looks like something out of the Flintstone’s movie. Without a doubt, that is the rib of a cow! The meat is also smoked to perfection so much so that you can cut it with a fork. The key differences between Killen’s and your typical KC barbecue is the sauce. It seems that with Texas barbecue the meat is meant to stand alone whereas in KC, the sauce is equally important. Your plate comes slathered with the signature sauce, but at Killens we had our choice of three sauces that were bottled at the table for you. Nothing about the coffee flavor sounded appealing to me, but the sweet was good.
A few things:
Why the line and why does it run out? No one has officially confirmed this for me, but there seems to be a lot of pride in the cooking process. I and my fellow barbecue fans have surmised that in maintaining the integrity of the smoking process you cannot pack the smoker with meat. On top of that, it’s a slow process so once you see you’re running out of brisket, you can’t just go make some more. Since the restaurant is only open for a few hours, it will likely be closed by the time it’s ready. So knowing that they will run out, means you need to get there early to get your choice of food, hence the line.
Also, you are going to wait either way. On the front end or the back end. Despite my gripes, I see the benefits of waiting on the front end and we had fun while we waited. We had our choice of everything. Nothing was gone yet. Also, I hate waiting in food lines where I see other people eating and I still haven’t made it through the door, so again that makes the early waiting more appealing. Bring some chairs and games and make a day of it like we did!
Overall I enjoyed Killen’s! The distance and the wait remain hurdles for me, so it will probably not become my go to food spot in Houston. I did enjoy it though and I will probably take my Kansas City family there the next time they come to town.