Tartare presentations are passé these days. I haven’t seen tuna tartare on a menu in years. I thought beef tartare had passed its sell-by date, too, until a burger at Barnaby’s Shepherd location convinced me otherwise. Ordered medium, the meat was peony pink and bled rosé.
A pretty palette, perhaps. But not a pretty palate. Server summarily summoned, conversations ensued, and I walked out not a penny poorer.
When I’m hungry for nostalgia, I like my retro food to be cooked as intended. And nostalgia is alive and well, tasting better than ever, at Barbecue Inn.
I could swear I’ve told you about Barbecue Inn before. But a trip through the morgue (all my old columns saved on OneDrive) proved I’ve been remiss.
Of course, who among us doesn’t already know the legend of Barbecue Inn? It’s been in business for 73 years (though the dining room doesn’t look a day over 55). The Skrehot family recipes used in 1946 are largely the ones they use today. And Barbecue Inn does serve barbecue, but it’s not what made it a legend.
That would be fried chicken. Specifically, the fried chicken that many local, state and national publications have declared the best in Houston, Texas, or America. And I got to have some just a few days ago!
How they make it is a closely guarded secret, naturally. All they’ll say is that it’s cooked to order, it takes 25 to 30 minutes (more like 20 minutes on my visit) and it’s worth the wait.
And while you wait, you get a big plate of chilled lettuce and tomato salad to munch on. Take my advice and get it with their homemade Thousand Island dressing. Don’t knock such simplicity — it’s bliss!
A three-piece platter comes with fries, but I upgraded to a baked potato and you should do the same. The potato comes with butter and a rack full of little plastic cups; inside the cups you’ll find sour cream, fresh chives and shredded cheddar cheese, all to load your potato as you please.
Then, of course, there’s the chicken itself. It’s hot — fresh from the fryer. It’s simply seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s perfectly crispy outside, warm and moist inside, and it’s terrific. Barbecue Inn makes fried chicken an art form, as it does with fried shrimp, chicken fried steak and other homestyle meals.
And to be honest, the barbecue doesn’t get its fair share of recognition. St. Louis style ribs, in particular, are thick and juicy, the meat just begging to be set free from the bone. This isn’t the holy “Texas-style” barbecue for which critics proselytize, but it’s plenty good.
So are the servers, some of whom have been with Barbecue Inn for close to 40 years. They always get your order right and check on you frequently to make sure you’re happy.
Barbecue Inn is a Houston treasure. It isn’t the healthiest cooking out there, and it’s certainly not the trendiest, but when you’ve got the craving, nothing else will do.
116 W. Crosstimbers Street
Houston, Texas 77018