Houston’s barbecue scene has been booming in recent years, with barbecue joints of all stripes – mom-and-pop shops, chef-driven restaurants, and trucks – serving up tasty smoked meats to the delight of barbecue fans. Houston barbecue is further enriched by its deep cultural influences. From Cajun to Korean and Mexican, Houston’s diversity can be seen in its ‘cue.

Pay a visit to Ray’s BBQ Shack in the Third Ward, where pitmaster Ray S. Busch dishes out some fine East Texas-style barbecue and soul food, including smoked boudin and smoked oxtails (on Thursdays). In north Houston, husband and wife Steve and Sherice Garner put out their take of the East Texas-style ‘cue, including boudin and smoked turkey legs, at Southern Q. The “Taste of the South Sampler,” which includes turkey, sausage, brisket, ribs, beans, potato salad, Cajun rice and grilled corn, is a good introduction to what they have to offer.

Soon to have a permanent home in Bellaire, Blood Bros BBQ has gained a following with its pop ups at Glitter Karaoke. Brothers Robin and Terry Wong, and their friend and pitmaster Quy Hoang, create innovative takes on traditional barbecue. You’ll find gochujang burnt ends, togarashi beef ribs, smoked meat bahn mi, and a mac-and-cheese-stuffed sausage that has somewhat of a cult following.

In Tomball, Tejas Chocolate Craftory brings together an unlikely pair: barbecue and chocolate. And the smoked meats here earned the family run joint the number 6 spot on Texas Monthly’s  50 Best BBQ Joints in Texas list. Its mole barbecue sauce, an elaborate and expensive endeavor, is worth a try. Tejas is also one of several barbecue joints in town that serve barbecue pastrami as a special. Roegels Barbecue Co. in the Briargrove area, also puts out a tasty pastrami Reuben on Thursdays. Don’t limit your visit here to Thursdays, though. Roegels, also on Texas Monthly’s 2017 list, serves tender and moist brisket, ribs and smoked turkey that don’t disappoint.

At The Pit Room, which also made Texas Monthly’s list last year, try chefs Michael Sambrooks and Bramwell Tripp’s brisket tacos served in tortillas made in house with smoked brisket fat, and their homemade pork jalapeño cheddar, Czech-style beef and venison sausages.

Husband and wife chefs Patrick and Erin Feges have been serving their barbecue in pop-ups around town. While the smoked whole hog that Patrick has become known for falls more into the barbecue traditions of the Carolinas and Memphis, it has developed a strong following in Houston. Expect more of his cooking and less traditional sides such as Moroccan-spiced carrots and green papaya salad at Feges BBQ now open at Greenway Plaza.

It’s hard to cover the wide variety of good barbecue coming out of Houston so barbecue fans shouldn’t miss the opportunity to try the food from many of these smokehouses in one place. The Houston Barbecue Festival, to be held at the Humble Civic Center Arena on April 21, brings together well known joints such as Pinkerton’s and Killen’s and mom- and-pop shops like Gerardo’s, which festival co-founder and Chronicle barbecue columnist J.C. Reid praises for its authentic Mexican barbacoa. You can also expect Truth BBQ from Brenham, which will soon open a Houston outpost, Victorian’s Barbecue, a newish Heights barbecue trailer, and Harlem Road Texas BBQ, chef Ara Malekian’s new brick and mortar BBQ joint in Richmond. For tickets and a full list of participants, go here.

For more Houston barbecue, check out our 19 Awesome BBQ Spots in Houston list.