A recent trip to the Houston area included stops at the New Zion Missionary Baptist Church (in Huntsville) and Hugo's (in Houston).
The Church is long on personality. (The barbecue annex is pictured below.) Though the customers are a lot like what you see at places like RO's Outpost outside of Austin or Clark's Outpost outside of Denton (i.e., the Prairie Home Companion set, weekend Harley riders, etc.--few, if any, non-Anglos), there's none of the faux "authenticity" that's often geared to that crowd. The smokers are out front for all to see. The kitchen is open. Barbecue can be ordered by the plate or in an all-you-can-eat format. Brisket was poor--dry and tough, but with good smoke flavor. Sausage was slightly above average--a little texture, peppery seasoning. The ribs were the best of the meats, with good bark (softened a bit by the sauce, though), smoke flavor, and firm texture (without becoming tough). Not great ribs, but very good ones.
This was my first meal at Hugo's. I started with a trio of half-dollar sized gorditas--rabbit, pork, and chicken. Nicely crisp masa. Good contrasts in the meats and three different sauces (i.e., adobo, tomatillo, and salsa de ajo).
For my entree, I had roasted rabbit. The rabbit, wrapped in a football-shaped banana leaf bundle, was tender and reasonably moist, but a little bland in flavor. The guajillo adobo sauce served with it, however, was enough to make it enjoyable. One side was a typical citrus-macerated jicama salad. The other was mashed purple sweet potatoes, topped with crema. Quality was good and portion sizes were ample. I ended up leaving a fair amount of the rabbit on the plate, even though I didn't plan on ordering dessert.
But, after seeing the dessert menu, I had to keep going. Churros and hot chocolate. A large mug of Mexican hot chocolate, frothed up with a molinillo, was served along with cajeta-filled churros and a scoop of Mexican chocolate ice cream (garnished with candied almonds and cacao nibs). Good contrasts of bitter and sweet in the dessert. I wouldn't mind having this one again.
Total tab for the meal at Hugo's ended up being a little over $30. Not bad for the quality and quantity of food served. I'd like to get back there and explore the menu some more.
Photos and more details at the link below.
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