Austin edges out Houston in barbecue competition

Monday, 04 December 2017, 09:45:48 PM. Brotherton's Barbecue in Pflugerville and LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue in Austin were top winners at inaugural HOU-ATX BBQ Throwdown

No one disputes the prominence of Houston in the state's burgeoning barbecue scene. But a friendly face-off between Houston barbecue joints and Austin pitmasters on Sunday saw the capital city edge out H-town in smoked meats know-how.

At the HOU-ATX BBQ Throwdown, held Sunday at Saint Arnold Brewing Co., judges gave first place (a tie) to two barbecue joints representing the Austin area: Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue in Pflugerville, and LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue of Austin. LeRoy and Lewis also won the People's Choice Award. Brotherton's entry was a "Pigpen and Pasture" banh mi – pulled pork and beef cheek pate on crostini topped with house-made kimchi. LeRoy and Lewis turned in pork bacon ribs with brisket fried rice and house-made kimchi.

Austin was represented by Brotherton's, LeRoy and Lewis, Hays Co. Bar-B-Que, Micklethwait Craft Meats and Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ. It was the first time the Austin restaurants served in Houston.

The Houston side of the barbecue battle was represented by Beaver's, the Brisket House, El Burro & the Bull, Gatlin's BBQ, Harlem Road Texas BBQ, Killen's Barbecue, My Yard Reaction BBQ, the Pit Room and Tin Roof BBQ.

There were long lines for Beaver's which served up smoked fried chicken with crackling cornbread; for Killen's pork "three ways" which included a spring roll filled with barbecue pork belly; and for El Burro & the Bull's smoked wild game chile Colorado.

"It's rich on top of rich," the Pit Room owner Michael Sambrooks said of his restaurant's entry of beef burnt ends on a shrimp cracker topped with cold smoked uni butter. "We want to step up our game every time we come to this."

Sambrooks said the competition was less a rivalry and more an appreciation of what Texas' top pitmasters can bring to the table. "We're not talking trash or anything," he said.

John Brotherton, owner of the winning Brotherton's, admitted he was a bit nervous planning for the competition. But also excited to be cooking for a Houston audience that truly appreciated good barbecue, he said.

"It's been really awesome, almost surreal," Brotherton said of his debut into the barbecue world with his Pflugerville outpost, which opened in May. "It's nice after all the hard work to see it paying off."

The HOU-ATX BBQ Throwdown, which attracted a sold-out crowd of 500, was produced by the HOUBBQ Festival.

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