According to an article written by Culturemap columnist Marene Gustin, Killen's BBQ is making some pretty strong statements. In his own words, "I don't want to be the barbecue place that has the best brisket. I don't want to be the barbecue place with the best sausage. I want to be the best barbecue place period." My first words were - "Oh yeah?" Now, Chef Ronnie Killen, who also owns the popular Killen's Steakhouse in Pearland, clearly has his eyes set on a bigger prize. I will admit, I was personally a bit taken back by the claim, but hell, I've had the barbecue so I nodded in agreement that this statement may not be too far off. Confidence is very attractive on a man and I am a firm believer in speaking things into existence. So speak chef!
Not too long ago, Texas Monthly released the top 50 barbecue joints in Texas. You had the heavy hitters and even BBQ trailers were represented (shout out to Brooks Place BBQ for making the list), all proud to be named one of the best given that barbecue is not the easiest cuisine to master. Time, dedication, and skill are just a few of the characteristics required to turn out a great and even good piece of smoked meat. The best pitmasters hone their craft for years and some still don't obtain the notoriety that you would expect. Well, Chef Ronnie Killen is no stranger to barbecue and actually owned a barbecue spot back in the day. When a restaurant closes, it is not always due to the food, the location or the service. Sometimes it is just timing and now chef is bringing his barbecue back and the timing couldn't be more perfect.
I've sampled Killen's BBQ on several occasions - first at the Monday Night Mayhem tailgating event at Triniti Restaurant this past December, second at the Rodeo Uncorked Roundup Best Bites Competition a few months back (Chef Killen took home the Trailblazing Appetizer/Entree Award for his Beef Short Ribs), and finally at a media tasting a month or so ago. Each and every time, Killen's BBQ was consistent. Each and every time, I finished my beef ribs, pork ribs, pork sausage, or brisket with a proud lick of the fingers because I had no shame in letting everyone know that is was THAT good. Each and every time, I took my time devouring pieces of slowly smoked meat because I knew at some point my belly would no longer support the overzealous nature of my mind. Each and every time I left pleased and more than satisfied.
If I had to pick a favorite, and it would be quite difficult, I would have to go with the pork ribs. A good pork rib is usually described as "falling off of the bone", "tender", or "having the perfect amount of smoke" (as indicated by the smoke ring). Well, it is all of those things plus the added fact that it can hold its own, standing alone, bare-butt naked, with no one holding its hand - and with no sauce! Am I surprised? Nope. Chef Killen is known for having a creative edge over his competition as witnessed by many over the years via a multitude of events, challenges, and awards. He is competitive, to say the least, but the guy knows what he is doing.
The beef ribs don't straggle to far behind, and I find myself surprised when I gaze at this hefty piece of meat, only to find it is just as tender as the pork version and for those that know BBQ, that is a small feat in itself. The pork sausage is killer too and I could easily live off of them if I didn't mind the weight gain. However, I wouldn't call the brisket at Killen's my favorite, but it's well on the way. They also offer three sauces which, if you choose, can accompany your BBQ. Labeled generically based on the flavor derived (sweet, tangy, and coffee), they are all tasty, but not needed unless you just like your BBQ that way. Me, I am a purest unless I am eating a chopped brisket sandwich. For dessert, the banana pudding is just like your mom used to make...only better. And this takes me right back to where I started, nodding in agreement, that the "strong" claim previously made by Chef Killen may really have some merit.
Plain and simple - it's just amazingly tender, solid, and consistently good barbecue.
With that said, I will end with this - A few months back we told you to "Get Your Ass to Killen's Steakhouse" and now this is the second time and we really mean it! Like baseball, three strikes and you are out. Hopefully we won't have to have this conversation again...lol! As shared by Eater Editor, Eric Sandler, you have about three months until the Killen's pop up will be moving to a permanent location and the buzz is already hitting given the lines on the weekends. In the interim, you can grab some of this great BBQ at the pop up located at Killen's Steakhouse every Saturday and Sunday starting at 11:00 a.m. But don't take my word for it even though you really should.
2804 S Main St.
Pearland, TX 77581
Urban Swank did receive a complimentary tasting, but the opinions expressed are our own.