Leon’s World’s Finest In & Out Barbecue – Galveston, TX

The Texas Monthly Top 50 Barbecue List is a coveted list that any self respecting Barbecue Joint aspires for.  When the list was published I was not surprised that Leon’s was on the list. Why?  My dad (who lives in Galveston) kept telling me about this great little place that serves great ribs. I knew a trip the Leon’s would be required on my next visit.

First a warning. Don’t go to Leon’s on the 4th of July. That was a mistake. When my wife and I sat at a corner table at the small restaurant, we were amazed at how busy they were. This is a small place and people kept pouring in to get to go orders for the holiday. After ordering and waiting for 45 minutes we knew something was wrong. Our waitress said they were out of ‘cue and if we waited 30 – 45 more minutes, we should be served. We couldn’t wait. We were starving.

On our next trip the Galveston we made our way (with mom and dad in tow) to Leon’s.  This time we had a prime table and finally got to get our hands on the barbecue. I ordered a two meat plate of brisket and sausage.  My wife ordered a big plate of ribs so I knew I’d be getting some of those well.

We got our ‘cue after only a short wait. The first thing that caught my eye was the housemade sausage. Leon has an arsenal of sausage recepies at his restaurant.  This was a beef based sausage called the Downtown Link. It was not bad. It certainly has a fine grind that will turn off some sausage lovers. There were pockets where the meat congealed with the fat into a great sausage texture. There were also pockets of fine grind that fell apart on the tongue in a strange way. It felt like eating small meat pellets.

The brisket was good. Not great. It didn’t have the most pronounced smoke ring.  And the lack of a deep smoke flavor leads one to believe they smoke for a few hours and finish in the oven. The bark was decent. I wish it was placed more consistently as there were bites that needed more salt or pepper to round out the chunky crust.

The ribs are absolutely delicious.  Their smoke ring and flavor were properly pronounced. Tender through and through, the ribs easily let go when bit.  They weren’t fall of the bone tender, but I like my ribs that way. I like a rib that gives way after a very slight tug. My only problem with the ribs at Leon’s is that they cut large spare ribs in half. This is quite unusual. I want the entire rib, but you may not get them that way.

I want to go back to this Top 50 recipient. Maybe we caught them on an average day.  The ‘cue is good and certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in Galveston. But not quite road trip worthy.  If you do hit up Leon’s, don’t be surprised if you see the owner sitting in the dining room talking to patrons. My dad has had many conversations with the man bellied up to a plate of ribs.

F – 2.5

V – 3

R – 2.5

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