The Brisket House

5775 Woodway
Houston, TX 77057

Phone: (281) 888-0331
Hours: M-Sat 11-9, Sun 11-6
Twitter: @TheBrisketHouse

Opened 2010
Pitmaster Jorge Castaneda
Method pecan and oak in a gas-fired rotisserie

TMBBQ Rating: 4


June 18, 2013

Even if you know where it is, this unassuming storefront in a beige brick strip mall is easy to miss. I almost drove by it even as I stared at the blue dot on my iPhone signaling its location. I’d had eaten some samples from The Brisket House at the Houston Barbecue Festival a few months back. What I ate there was enough to get me over to their permanent location just outside the western edge of the loop in Houston.

Brisket House 01

Owner Wayne Kammerl started his restaurant career at Tom’s BBQ in College Station.  A familiar place to Aggies who dined on the “Aggie Special” and chopped beef sandwiches which Wayne remembered only as being cheap, but not especially good. Tom’s was good enough to make Texas Monthly’s Top 50 BBQ joint list in 1997, but closed in 2001. Wayne’s food service path wandered considerably from College Station. It started with multiple locations in the Hard Rock Café chain, then on to a Sbarro franchise before he ended up at Ra Sushi in Houston. When he’d had enough of raw fish he tried his hand at barbecue again. That was three years ago when The Brisket House opened in this strip mall.

Back when the joint opened, Wayne did much of the cooking. These days those duties fall on Jorge Castaneda who was slicing the meat when I walked in around noon on a Saturday. The cutting table was in full view as I placed my order at the register. Jorge unfurled a fresh brisket from its plastic wrap veil and it landed with a thud on the cutting table. It was a jet-black behemoth of barely trimmed beauty. I motioned to the back end of the brisket and he sliced of a chunk that was mostly crust as I nodded in approval. Two more thick slices from the fatty end were placed in the tray before a slab of St. Louis ribs was brought out of the warmer. I could see the bark on the slab had barely formed, but the knife eased through the meat. I noticed a sign proudly displayed that noted their sausage supplier was Ruffino Meats in Bryan, Texas. The jalapeño sausage is made to Wayne’s special blend so that became my third meat in the combo plate.

Out in the car I tucked into a thick slice of brisket. Eminently moist and pull apart tender, this was a well smoked brisket. The saltiness in the rub was a bit much, but the smokiness was bold and the black pepper provided a pleasant heat. I didn’t so much bite as just let the burnt end melt on my tongue. So many “burnt ends” on barbecue menus use the entire point which is cut into chunks, then seasoned and re-smoked. This may turn into well seasoned chunks of beef, but it’s nice to be reminded of what a real burnt end is. It isn’t labeled at The Brisket House, nor does it get a designated spot on the menu. It’s just the simple end cut of brisket with a maximum amount of crusty, smoky surface area coursed with melting fat. Ask for it.

 Brisket House 02

If only the pork ribs could have matched that level of flavor. The meat on each bone had a good pink color beneath a meager brown. Black pepper dotted the surface, but this couldn’t be called a bark. The pork came from the bone nicely without much of a tug and it was plenty juicy. Even the smokiness was there. Maybe the bark was stifled during the smoking process or maybe it was compromised in a sheath of plastic wrap, but considering the quality of the bark on the brisket I know the staff is capable of better.

A cough snuck up on me after a bite of the jalapeño sausage. There was some real chilé heat here that was easily quenched with a few more bites of sausage. The well-seasoned filling was wrapped in a snappy casing. The slices were on the bias making it a good scoop for the above average pinto beans and the eggy potato salad with a mustard base that barely held the potato chunks together. This was a solid meal even without the other meats.

When I stepped back inside to ask about their smoker I noticed the Southern Pride in plain view tucked back by the entry door. I had missed it in my rush to scarf down some lunch. A few hours later, the owner Wayne came by the bookstore where I was doing a signing. He’d seen my meaty photos from his joint on Twitter along with the announcement of the signing. We talked about his food background and the hassle of a second location. The Brisket House recently opened another location in Houston. Wayne admitted this turned his role into less of a cook and more of a manager shuttling back and forth between locations to keep it all running smoothly. Of his smoking process he says he starts the briskets in the evening at a higher temperature, but then lowers the thermostat to 190 degrees overnight to hold off the gas form kicking on as long as possible. When they get back in the kitchen in the morning they add wood to the fire and crank up the heat to finish them off. The briskets are then removed and wrapped so the ribs can go on and be done by opening time.

With a somewhat hidden strip mall location, a sparse interior and a gas-fired smoker, The Brisket House can give off a questionable first impression. If you can get beyond that you’ll be rewarded with some very good barbecue from a team whose highest priority is providing quality food instead of manufactured atmosphere.



    J. Moss says:

    Just visited there today. Had three meat plate with brisket, spicy sausage, and pork ribs. All meats were well seasoned. The brisket didn’t have quite as much bark on it as I like (I’ll have to ask for some burnt ends next time) but it had great texture and enough flavor without it. Ribs had excellent flavor, but as Daniel noted, no real bark and a bit of a mushy texture. Sausage was very good too. Had the pinto beans and baked potato salad for sides; the beans were solid, and I could have eaten the potato salad as a meal by itself. In all, definitely a cut above your average BBQ joint, and worth a drive if you live in Houston.

    Kevin says:

    I am sitting in the brisket house as I type this! This is my first time eating here and it is delicious. I will admit that I had some of their BBQ at an event I went to a few weeks ago, which is what made me drive across town to try it again. I had the 2 meat plate, brisket and pork ribs; brisket melted in my mouth, perfectly seasoned and with a delicious bark. The ribs pulled right off the bone and had good flavor, lacking bark but making up for it with strong smoke flavor and peppery rub. The sauce was sweet but complemented the spiciness well. Mustard potato salad was some of the best I have had in years, but the cole slaw could definitely be more flavorful and sweeter. This is the best BBQ I’ve had in Houston in a long time. I couldn’t care less that it’s smoked on a southern pride gas assisted pit, because they do it right. So many places are unable to smoke correctly with these pits, but The Brisket House has mastered it.

    Monroe says:

    Wayne Kammerl is a great guy. I went to school with him at Blinn and TAMU. Good to see he is keeping the Aggie Special alive and well. Wayne, come see me in Rosebud, if you ever get the chance.

    Dennis says:

    Saturday evening, Oct. 3, 2015. Came from Wisconsin to try the brisket. My 2-meat plate contained CHOPPED brisket and 2 BBQ ribs. The ribs were fine, though not the best I’ve had. The chopped brisket was a disappointment – ordinary and somewhat dry. We brought a plate home for my son-in-law. His brisket was SLICED. I tried a slice and it was fabulous – moist, tender, and flavorful. Lesson learned – make sure to ask for sliced brisket, even in a sandwich.

    Bob in Champions says:

    Really looking forward to this place opening in a couple of months. That spot has been really lonely since Fuddrucker’s closed a few years ago. Glad to see someone who knows food is moving in.
    Welcome to the neighborhood!

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