Nestled off the winding 19th Street, the smoky smell of the three pits behind Gatlin’s small storefront wafts through the air. Around 10:30 a.m., cars are filling the parking lot, and the line forms for the limited quantities of brisket, chicken, sausage, ribs and pulled pork.
Meanwhile, the Gatlin family readies for the day packing orders, cutting meat and stirring rice. This is how it starts at this award winning barbecue spot at 1221 W. 19th Street that began as a catering business and evolved into storefront restaurant in 2010. Gatlin's food is all about the flavor which has attracted visitors from near and far. It’s not hard to see why when a rib falls off the bone dripping juice as the brisket also melts gently in your mouth, both abundant in flavor and texture.
Their latest recognition will be an appearance on the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise show coming the summer of 2014.
Add this to their long list of awards and accolades including Best Barbecue Restaurant 2010 and 2011 from Houston Press, Texas Monthly Magazine’s Top Pick and being included in Food & Wine Magazine’s Houston Eating Tour with Joel Stein as well as the Houston Culinary Tours. Don't forget those rave reviews from the Houston Chronicle and CultureMap Houston too.
Greg Gatlin, father, Henry and mother, Mary have all teamed up to put forth some of the best barbecue in Houston where it’s not uncommon to have taxis lined up front straight from the airports. Local visitors come from Pearland, Katy, Kingwood and the Greater Houston area to grab a plate of the succulent meat.
The sides, ranging from dirty rice to green beans, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw, are a welcome addition to the flavorful and plentiful servings where sauce, both sweet and spicy, is set to the side. Desserts, such as bread pudding and peach cobbler are made here, and cakes from Joyful Delights fill the front counter to grab and go.
Greg Gatlin, a native Houstonian and St. Thomas High School graduate, leads the charge with his former years of experience as a kitchen manager with Pappas Family restaurants. Using his Economics degree from Rice University, Gatlin is able to balance the additional demands of the business while the family keeps the recipes true to their longtime flavors.
The secret to their success is the simple fact this is the kind of food you’d expect when visiting family for big gatherings said Gatlin. “At the end of the day, we put out a product that tastes like home. We enjoy the whole process. We take care in making it authentic. This is the kind of food that brings back childhood memories. Our customer service creates that atmosphere where people want to come in,” he explained.
Seeing loyal customers and those who have made a special trip to the cozy cottage continues to inspire the Gatlin family. “It feels great. It means we’re doing a good job at what you do. It’s all been word of mouth,” said Gatlin.
Hours of operation are Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 713-869-4227 or go to www.gatlinsbbq.com.