Not terribly far from Old Town Spring, home of the amazing CorkScrew BBQ, just east of the Hardy Toll Road in north Houston (technically Spring) on Cypresswood sits a bright orange food trailer on the south side of the road. At first look you might not think much of Paw Paw Chico Barbecue (it has a similar feel as Brooks’ Place in Cypress).
But once you try their brand of barbecue, you will likely be going back again and again – partly because of how good their smoked meat is, and partly how kind and friendly Loise, the pitmaster, is to all her customers. She is one amazing lady. Loise is from New Orleans, which explains the “Tex Orleans” verbiage on the signage. And she works like crazy. Her only “day off”, if you can call it that, is Sunday. She was so friendly to us – which made it a great experience. She showed us around the pit out back of the trailer. She shared some great stories about the importance of family – she is raising 4 teenaged boys, all football players.
The week we visited she was finally going to get a short break and do a road trip back home to the Big Easy to watch her Saints plan. For her sake, I sure hope they won. Loise loves to cook. She grew up watching her mom cook and helped as she got older. She is self-trained at managing the pit. She was a nurses assistant until they opened the trailer 3 or so years ago. I asked Loise who Paw Paw Chico is. She shared that he is her significant other’s grandfather. Growing up, he always said that when he opened a restaurant, he would name it after his paw paw, regardless of what kind of food they served. Paw Paw Chico passed away in 2004. So true to his word, when they opened in 2015, it was called Paw Paw Chico Barbecue.
Now to the barbecue stuff… They have been running this trailer for over 3 years now. The pit out back is housed on a trailer, and is an all-wood-fired rotisserie pit. She only uses well-seasoned hickory. The brisket rub has 7 ingredients, and her rib rub is just a bit simpler, with 6 ingredients. I ordered some brisket and spicy jalapeno sausage. And my barbecue buddy, Craig, ordered got some of the creole sausage as well. For a side I ordered the creole mac-n-cheese, and Craig ordered the beans. That would have been plenty of food for us, and would have been a good experience. But wonderful Miss Loise was so good to us – she wanted us to try some of her other meats as well, so she loaded us up. We both got both types of sausage and both of her signature creole mac-n-cheese and beans, as well as some really tasty turkey and pork spareribs. What a sweetheart she was to us! She really took care of us.
The brisket had great flavor and a very nice bark. The fat was well rendered. And I learned from Loise that these briskets go naked the whole way – no wrapping on her pit! On to the house-made sausage – getting to try both the spicy jalapeno and the creole sausage was wonderful. Both were very tasty, carrying the flavors they were named with very nicely – and they both had a very good grind, an excellent snap to the casing, and they did not have an oversmoked flavor. The turkey was real treat – rather than being sliced like most turkey breast, this was more of a “pulled” turkey. It was very moist and quite flavorful. The rub Loise uses on her turkey is same rub she uses for the brisket. The pork spareribs use a dry rub only. They do not get a wet rub or mop, which is definitely my preference. They had a great color and bark. And the flavor was outstanding. We learned that, just like her briskets, her ribs go naked too – no Texas crutch needed. The beans were of the baked style rather than a saltier ranch bean. The taste was great, with a healthy amount of meat in there. And the “single” portion was very healthy sized. The creole mac-n-cheese was outstanding – the creole flavors and ingredients were really blended well with the shells and cheese. I might go back just for that!! Finally, the sauce was excellent – dark and sticky sweet, but it paired well with all of the different smoked meats.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to head up north and try Paw Paw Chico Barbecue, you may just want to consider it. And if you are in the area already, definitely stop on by – they’re open noon to 8pm every day but Sunday. And tell Miss Loise I said to say hello.