View Full Version : Killen's BBQ - Pearland Texas - Are the Meccas and Franklin's Superflous?

Pitmaster T
02-16-2014, 11:51 AM
Well I did it. Yesterday I went to meet my buddy from another mother BigMista at Ronnie Killen's BBQ.

He had been doing it on Saturdays in a tent and "the line" was already established. I got there at 10:15 for an 11:00 opening. By 10:45 there was a line of 300. I got in at 11:20. I sat down at a table at 11:40. The entire time I knew it was worth it. The reason why was I smelled the smell of my own bbq; smoke that is peppery, beefy and greasy, with that hint of smoke.

As I waited, the crowd was not your usual crowd either. All had working knowledge and pride in Texas BBQ. They knew what an Oyler was, what typified the various styles of Texas BBQ and all probably hated the Baron of BBQ for ever applying the "Texas Crutch" to us. Well those of us who swear against it.

No electric knife sound like Central BBQ down the street.... heck the chairs were still not on the floor and wrapped in their shipping plastic.... but the meat was superb and the eyeballed pound measurements tilted favor to the buyer.

I got the triple meat plate; long handled beef ribs, pork rib, brisket sliced thick and Texas like. Who came u with that silly assed pencil thick measurement anyway?

There was sauce but I never reached for it.

There is a special taste achieved by no foil cooks that never occur in foil or hard braised products and that is the interaction of heat, time and smoke on large grained spices like chunks of garlic and pepper with a good amount of salt. Being that he cooked these in an Oyler, thereby dripping the fat over the meat repeatedly after the weep period washes away a portion of the salt but also changes the profile of the pepper from a peppery bite to an earthy taste that is bound in Central Texas BBQ Lore. More on that later. I could do this on my Meat Mama when it had the rotisserie but not on my Klose Pit called the Brazos. You need that constant dripping. And long before yesterday, when meat absorbing flavor back into itself was finally questioned by members of this forum, the makers of the Oylers about 50 or more years ago claimed their product was better because making the meat get close to the heat then backing off it it like a rotisserie does, massages the meat and lets flavors go in and out due to the meat sort of expanding and contracting in the heat. Lunatics!

Dripping meat juices process is also apparent in the newer cabinet cookers where the meat on top can bathe the meat below and help that flavor penetrate the meat fibers. :-) I know this cuz I once tasted a markedly difference taste of the brisket on top to the briskets below from a guy who never thought to switch trays.

Once in you could really tell the facility is an old school cafeteria. You can see those institutional tiles against the walls. Like I said he has an Oyler and brick pit he just built. A brick pit that comes up to my eyeball so he is going to need some steps.

Meat resting everywhere.... hundreds of pounds going out "to go." And most importantly.... a master at the knife. You see the slicer always rules the roost at a good joint. They make the decision of what is ready to slice and what is not. Some of the 300 outside got a taste even before I did and I was 5 feet away from the slice counter. He sent some outside to let them know what they were waiting for.

So EVERY morsel of what I ate was stellar. So stellar that even before I tasted it I was chanting to Neil "No more trips to Lockhart -- ever."

Oh the beef ribs and bark on everything was incredible.

I have always been sort of embarrassed by Gulf Coast BBQ. Pity our best ditch effort now or arguably will be the best BBQ in the State favors the Hill Country style but that's okay. But there were never any places I would suggest outside Huntsville for the Houston area. If a guy said "I am going to be in Austin, shall I go to Salt Lick" I'd say no... it was good in the 80s, they don't actually cook on the pit anymore (its for show) go to Franklin's or Lockhart instead.

Now....let me put this on the record as I get scores of emails asking where I should go.

If you want good BBQ and you are anywhere in the state, go to Killens. Maybe he will have chairs by then.

Go to Lockhart for the History - its like a time machine. Go to Franklin's to see the hot college girls in line. But go to Killens if its just about the meat. Each one of these places is great in their own right.... but Killens has a big assed foot in the door.

Pictures to Come

Pitmaster T
02-16-2014, 12:06 PM

Line Already


My True Love - The JR Oyler. Been next to (Or inside) about 30; ranging in age from 50 to 10 years old - never a new one. 4000 lbs without meat.


Wow, flush door model.

Me, the Owner Ronnie Killen and Bigmista

Resting Briskets I guess before the Butcher Paper.

Beef Ribs fresh off the smoker

The 3 meat plate


Be sure and clean the fat offa yo lens

02-16-2014, 12:09 PM
I really need pictures

02-16-2014, 12:10 PM
Oh, nice, that beef looks great

02-16-2014, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the report and I'm very much looking forward to the pix. I'm hoping to visit my sister in Austin before she moves and hit a bunch of BBQ spots. This place looks a little ways off but sounds like it would be worth the drive.

edit - pix got put up while I was typing - nice! :clap2: That meat looks great!

02-16-2014, 12:27 PM
I feel a road trip commin on :becky:

smoke ninja
02-16-2014, 12:40 PM
Great. Neil makes you look so...........small.

Bbq Bubba
02-16-2014, 12:41 PM
Im going there in March! Definetly one of the best!
That Oyler is only about 4-5 years old. Wish i got the stainless doors on mine!

02-16-2014, 12:49 PM
Thanks for the pics. Ronnie makes some great Q, and as for the Oylers... Hell yeah!

02-16-2014, 01:02 PM
very nice

02-16-2014, 01:12 PM
Nice report! Will check it out if I'm ever in the area...

02-16-2014, 01:15 PM
Yeah, the flush stainless doors sure do look nice.

02-16-2014, 01:24 PM
Killens is awesome!!! Love the BBQ. Love the steakhouse. Some of the best eats anywhere in the Houston area.

Pitmaster T
02-19-2014, 08:06 PM
Wow, just wow.. What a shot.

02-19-2014, 08:20 PM
Now my cabbage and rice looks real sad