by Lorraine Cherry
Southern fried chicken and pie, oh my!
Fried chicken! Over the last year or so, this tasty down-home delight has become the darling of the foodie world. It seems that every restaurant in town, from the most avant-garde bistro to the lowliest greasy spoon, is advertising that they have the best fried chicken in Houston.
So, who really does have the best? A lot of people, including the foodies, would say that the honor goes to Barbecue Inn, serving barbecue and good Southern cooking at the corner of Yale and Crosstimbers since 1946.
Walking into Barbecue Inn has an element of time travel to it. You’d swear you were back in the 1950s, with the fake leather booths, iceberg lettuce salads, and waitresses who have been there for 30 years (or more!). They will warn you that there is a 30-minute wait for the fried chicken, because every batch is cooked to order. The chicken comes to your table crispy on the outside, juicy and perfectly seasoned on the inside. It’s served with a salad and French fries (baked potato with all the fixings for a little extra). And it’s so, so good. I try not to eat fried foods that often, but when I want fried chicken, get out of my way! I want the best, and I go to Barbecue Inn to get it.
The restaurant got its start cooking pit barbecue, and there’s still a lot of folks that drive here for their brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, or half-chickens. They do a fine job with fried shrimp, too. If you go, go early. They fill up quickly at both lunch and dinner, and you might not get in if you leave it too late.
Barbecue Inn has beautiful pies for dessert, but I usually try to muster up the willpower to say no, especially after one of those big lunches. That willpower lasts about 2 blocks, or until you run into the Flying Saucer Pie Company on the north
side of Crosstimbers between Yale and Shepherd. Some of the best pie crust I’ve ever had (sorry, Mom!), with wonderful homemade fillings, everything made fresh every day with no preservatives. On the last outing, Texas peaches were in season, and the fresh peach pie they put together was something I still dream about. Ditto for the coconut cream, my husband’s favorite. You can buy any of their pies by the piece and take them home to enjoy later. That is, if you don’t have a fork, or a couple of kids, or an out-of-control husband in your car, in which case the pie may not make it all the way home!