It seems that Franklin Barbecue isn't the only star in the Texas barbecue scene these days. Killen's Barbecue in Pearland is widely acknowledged as the best barbecue joint in the Houston area, and the rest of the country is starting to notice.
On Monday, Top 5 Restaurants, a new show on Food Network that aims to provide the "definitive lists" on dishes ranging from burgers to steak, added to Chef Ronnie Killen's acclaim by calling his brisket one of the five best pieces of barbecue in the country.
"Our experts dug through tons of reviews, devoured countless pounds of meat all over the nation, so we can tell you where to find the five best barbecue joints," host Geoffrey Zakarian told viewers on Monday's episode.
Killen's brisket comes in ahead of such celebrated dishes as the chopped pork at the Skylight Inn in North Carolina, barbecue chicken with white sauce at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que in Alabama, and the burnt ends sandwich at Joe's Kansas City Bar-B-Que. The pork ribs at The Bar-B-Q Shop in Memphis take the top spot.
In the segment, Zakarian cites Killen's three-step brisket preparation as the key to its success, specifically the different grinds of Tellicherry pepper used in the rub. Killen sees the ranking as validation for the hard work he and his team have put in during the restaurant's 16-month existence.
Of course, it's impossible not to note that Killen's beat out a local James Beard Award-winning barbecue joint. Killen has never shied away from saying he aimed to take the best barbecue in Texas title away from Franklin Barbecue; the restaurant even sells T-shirts that read, "the best barbecue, period." The new acclaim from Food Network is the first time he's achieved that goal.
"My intention isn't to say we're better than Franklin because of one list. On any given day, he could have great stuff and we might not, because there are so many variables to making barbecue," Killen says. "I’m very happy with the outcome. To me, being named top five is huge, especially to be the only place in Texas. I'm sure Franklin has had his time to be No. 1. He can share the spotlight. It's okay."
One thing's for certain — if Killen keeps this up, an enterprising 13-year old is going to make some money waiting in line for people, just like at a famous joint in Austin.