First Chew: The acclaimed Houston Barbecue is now served within the Spring Department

Growing up in rural Missouri in the 1970s and 1980s, “barbecue” meant a backyard get-together, not a method of cooking. The only “low” things were the strapped aluminum lawn chairs and the igloo cooler. The only things that were “slow” were the June bugs huddled against the screen door. Don’t get me wrong, there was meat too – St. Louis spare ribs with Maull’s BBQ sauce cooked over charcoal, grilled hot dogs and burgers, and, if my grandpa played along, a very rare T-bone, mostly from a cow he made raised.

Later in my life, of course, especially after 18 years in Texas (this time) and a trip to Foodways Texas’s Camp Brisket, I understood that barbecue is also a cuisine influenced by multiple cultures – West African, African American, Indigenous, Mexican, German, and more – that focuses on slow and slow smoking of meat.

The new stationary location of Feges BBQ in Spring Branch combines both definitions of “barbecue” and creates a family atmosphere in which expertly smoked meat is served. Located at 8217 Long Point, on the corner of Long Point (one of Houston’s great food streets) and Hillendahl – which is named after one of the German farming families who immigrated to the area in the 1840s – the spacious restaurant is anchored the newly renovated Strip Center, which also houses Tacos Del Julio, a long-standing favorite that serves food inspired by Monterrey, Mexico, and the newcomer shoot The Moon.

Erin Smith and Patrick Feges at their location on Greenway Plaza. Photo by Robert Jacob Lerma.

Cooks and owners Patrick Feges and Erin Smith are no strangers to the Bayou City food scene. Before launching Feges BBQ as a pop-up, Feges, who earned a Purple Heart in the Iraq War, cooked at Underbelly, Brennan’s, Killen’s Barbecue – where he honed his pitmaster skills – and Southern Goods. After working in New York’s renowned Per Se and Babbo restaurants, Smith returned to Houston to run Plonk! Beer & Wine Bistro before becoming culinary director for the Clumsy Butcher Group (the restaurant group that grew out of Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly Hospitality), where she perfected Blacksmith’s famous square cookies. She was also the inaugural cook for Main Kitchen at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Houston.

After a successful pop-up run, the couple opened the first Feges BBQ location at The Hub in Greenway Plaza, the food court that launched other Houston favorites: Greenway Coffee, The Rice Box and Burger-Chan. Feges’ cleverly smoked meats and Smith’s one-of-a-kind grill side dishes, such as Moroccan Spiced Carrots and Elote Corn Salad – dishes that could stand side-by-side with those in Houston’s finest fine-dining restaurants – quickly garnered critical acclaim. After being open for a little over a year, the first Feges BBQ made it onto Alison Cook’s Top 100 list and was named one of the “Top 25 Best New BBQ Places in Texas” by Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn .

At their new location, the couple made use of the large kitchen and dining room and developed a larger, yet focused menu. There is, of course, a full range of smoked meats that sell for half a pound. During a recent lunch, when the crowd included locals from nearby businesses, I indulged in both moist brisket with a crackling, spicy crust and tender pork ribs. Both were as good as those at the acclaimed Greenway location.

Customers can round off the Texas Trinity with sausage or opt for Boudin instead. You can also choose between Brisket Burnt End, Turkey, Pulled Pork or Chicken.

Southern roast chicken, charred coleslaw and buttermilk biscuits in the Spring Branch of Feges BBQ. Photo by David Leftwich.

But the new Feges BBQ offers more than just smoked meat. One recent evening when the diners were as diverse as the neighborhood, my wife and I came back for dinner and skipped barbecues altogether. I opt for the snappy southern fried chicken with a touch of spiciness, a charred coleslaw that was as crispy as a late fall day (as opposed to a damp, humid August afternoon), a flaky buttermilk biscuit, and some hot homemade condiments: Gochujang BBQ- Sauce and White Alabama Sauce.

Hanger steak with a mushroom crust with roasted cauliflower and a quick Romesco sauce. Photo by David Leftwich.

As my grandpa would have done, my wife opted for a steak: a perfectly cooked porcini-crusted hanger steak served with roasted cauliflower and a brisk Romesco sauce. We also tried one of the classic side dishes, roasted sweet and spicy Brussels sprouts, and one of the new additions, Spicy Korean Braised Greens, a generous pile of tender greens bathed in a tangy sauce.

Spicy Korean braised greens in the Spring Branch of Feges BBQ. Photo by David Leftwich.

Other new sites include Hog Fat Cornbread, Chana Masala, Sweet Potato and Banana Mashers, and Money Cat Potatoes, an underground favorite created for chef Justin Yu (Theodore Rex, Better Luck Tomorrow, Squable) that occasionally appears on menus in Town , Village.

To round off the “main”, there is the Feges BBQ Burger, a double patty affair that was already rated “A” by Alison Cook of the Houston Chronicle. In addition, guests will find a Loaded BBQ Baked Potato, several sandwiches – including a fried chicken sandwich with riot sauce and a delicious Brisket and Pimento Grilled Cheese. There are three salads, including the fascinating-sounding Charred Caesar. You can add smoked meat of your choice to each of them for a market-driven surcharge.

The only starter is cracklin nachos. Yes, fried pork skins replace the tortillas chips in this loaded concoction that features smoked queso and pickled jalapeños. However, if you want more starters, you can start your meal with one of the side dishes, such as: B. spiced french fries.

Feges BBQ and wines from GermanyFeges BBQ Spring Branch recently teamed up with Wines of Germany for a hearty event during the week. Photo by Abbie Arnold.

Even if there might not be a well-stocked picnic cooler next to your table, like at a home BBQ, you can order from a selection of mostly local craft beers, ciders, and hard selters (the modern day equivalent of the wine coolers that would do this). found in an igloo in the 80s). But more impressive – and unusual for a BBQ area – is the well-prepared wine list, which offers both glass and bottle options. Plus, keep an eye out for regular Wednesday specials that feature a select wine at half price per bottle or glass and the occasional couple of wine dinners or tastings.

No garden-style get-together is complete without some options for the kids or dessert. Feges and Smith offer both. Those under 12 can opt for a cheeseburger, grilled cheese, or fried or grilled chicken (but not a hot dog just yet). And you really don’t want to miss out on the tender but decadent PB&J Chocolate Layer Cake that I luckily can say made the leap to the new location.

All of these elements come together in a minimalist but cozy and family-friendly restaurant that is well on its way to being both a barbecue destination that should attract smoked meat enthusiasts from across the state and a useful neighborhood eatery that it will be serving memorable meals for years.

Feges BBQ’s Spring Branch is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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