My best friend took me to Gatlin’s during my first trip to Houston. It was so good that I stopped by the Black-owned restaurant for another taste on my way to the airport at the end of my trip.
If you picture a classic, casual, southern restaurant—that’s Gatlin’s. It’s a super chill place with a ton of wood accents that is comfortable and almost makes you feel like you’re in someone’s kitchen or backyard for a cookout.
Clearly, I loved the food; I have gone twice in one weekend each time I’m in town. This may sound like hyperbole, but a year after my first trip, I was still thinking about the food and hoping that I had not hyped it up in my head. But a return visit did not disappoint. In my experience, soul food cooked in bulk doesn’t always live up to expectations. However, Gatlin’s is the exception. Their website boasts that “love is the secret ingredient” and I can testify that I can taste it. Everything was seasoned well and cooked to perfection. The menu offers all your traditional barbecue meats—brisket, pulled pork, sausage, ribs, turkey, and chicken—and sides—greens, mac and cheese, yams, smoked corn, baked beans and more. They also have wings, salads, and sandwiches and have added a breakfast menu since my last visit.
Gatlin’s prices are comparable to similar BBQ spots I’ve been to. You can get a plate that comes with meat and two sides for $13-$20 (beef ribs cost more). Sandwiches cost between $8 and $15. I’d say it’s worth it. I have not had the chance to try the breakfast there (yet!), but looking over the menu, it seems like you could have a hearty breakfast for $15 or less (unless you want shrimp & grits).
Service was excellent during my first visit, and I initially suspected that it was because the guy behind the counter thought I was cute (heyyyyyyy boo!). But every other visit has been much of the same—exceptionally friendly and helpful service from the entire staff. When you walk into this family-owned and operated establishment, you instantly feel welcome.
The line to order is often long (clearly, I’m not the only one who likes the food), but the staff stays positive and works quickly to take everyone’s order and bring out their food as soon as possible.
Gatlin’s BBQ is definitely somewhere I am intentional about visiting a couple times every time I go to Houston. I highly recommend them and suggest that you experience the love in every delicious dish for yourself.
Updated July 5, 2020