Thelma s – I ve never experienced nor witnessed the rudeness, but I can believe it from what I ve seen of her on TV. My recommendations: avoid the long lines, if there s a line at 11am as some of the comments on b4-u-eat suggest, go after the midday rush; that s when I always go. It s one thing to stand in line 45 minutes for food, another if you re also treated rudely. I ve never had to stand in a line of more than 1 or 2 people. Best are her ribs and catfish. This is the closest to downtown. All food is served in to-go containers. Her sides are probably the best at any Q joint in Houston.
Luling City Market – Wow, some really positive comments on this thread. I ve had excellent cue there and mediocre cue there. It s not as good as the namesake in Luling but only a handful of places on the planet are and you asked about the best in Houston, not Texas. The mustard based sauce is the real thing; from what I understand, the original owners hired someone away from the place in Luling who knew the recipe. He didn t last long and wasn t welcomed back in Luling for some reason. BBQ connoisseurs/snobs in Houston hold the theft of the name and sauce against this place and look down their noses at it, but the original owners are long gone. They don t keep the pit going all day, so go early. By mid-afternoon the focus is more on the bar, not the cue, the meat has been on the steam table for hours and the best cuts probably already used up; at least that s what I think accounts for the difference. I d say if you can t get there by 2pm, skip it, but that s not a hard and fast rule. Go before noon if you can. Here s a link to an article on the two Lulings by Robb Walsh of the Houston Press, whose book Legends of Texas Barbecue is the best there is on the subject. The book pretty well echos my thoughts on the subject.
On the thing about the sausage: I think they ve changed the recipe at LCM Houston; used to be very good, on my most recent visit, I was disappointed in the texture. They seem to have switched to a very fine grind of meat instead of coarse grind.
By the way, anybody in Central Texas tried the place in McMahan that s mentioned in Walsh s article?