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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Counter service

Tue–Sat 11:00am–7:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar None
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx


1221 1/2 W. 19th St.
(713) 869-4227
Gatlin’s Barbecue
Don’t let the squeaky clean looks fool you—this here’s some dirty, smoky goodness

You needn’t be Texan to be highly suspicious as you pull up to Gatlin’s brand new, bland little taupe house with white trim and a shaded patio. Nothing about the look of the place says “serious barbecue;” not its deep-red curtains, nor its overproduced signage (although the Styrofoam containers are, we hate to say, legit). But the only thing that matters, where Texas barbecue is concerned, is the brisket—and this one tears down the house. Especially from the fattier ends, it falls apart in smoky chunks with peppery, salty charred bark; the fat’s rendered so well into the meat that even leaner cuts are flavorful. No sauce is required (but it’s of the thin and spicy variety, if you want it). So, Texas test #1: passed. Test #2 is ribs, which are wonderful, slipping easily from their bones with trace smokiness and a great rub. Ask Henry Gatlin if there are baby backs that day; for that matter, whatever he suggests, get it. Now, it’s rare that anyone nails all three, but Test #3, the sausage, has just the right snap to the casing and lots of squirty action. After that, it’s all gravy: sides like beans and potato salad are average, but dirty rice is spectacular; cobbler’s inconsistent, but when it’s good, it’s maybe the best in town.

Prepare to sit outside, as the inside’s only got a couple of small tables. But who wants to eat ’cue around curtains, anyway?

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