Lauren’s Food Truck Reviews, Vol. 2: Brooks’ Place

The front of Brooks’ Place, a barbecue food truck that has been active in the Houston area since 2009.

Lauren Washington, Feature Editor

Barbeque has always been a staple of southern cuisine, especially in Texas; in the greater Houston area, there seems to be a barbecue restaurant at virtually every turn. Barbecuing is also a large part of Texan culture. On holidays, for parties, during sports games, or even for fun, many Southerners like to throw a few sausages and slabs of beef onto the grill to share with family and friends. As a native Texan, many of my childhood memories are of lazy Sunday afternoons at my grandmother’s house, where my aunts, uncles, and cousins–and my grandmother’s freeloading neighbors–would come together, sharing stories and gossiping over ridiculously large racks of ribs.

As a child, I was never a huge barbecue fan; in fact, I found beef gross. As the years passed, I got better about eating beef (and any meat, really), though I was never convinced that I had the capacity to love beef.

Until I tried my first rack of ribs from Brooks’ Place.

Located near the corner of FM 529 and Barker Cypress, Brooks’ Place is a food truck that has served the Cypress community for eight years. I’d heard a lot of positive things about the truck from friends at school, as well as my father, who eats at Brooks’ often. As I began the short trek from my car to the truck, I sniffed the air; the aroma of smoked meat filled the atmosphere and made my stomach rumble. As a person who rarely craves meat, I was surprised at how good the food smelled and how eager I was to dig into whatever was cooking.

When I arrived at the counter, the employees in the truck were busy taking care of another customer’s order, so I took in my surroundings. The first thing I noticed was the sarcastic–and frankly, hilarious–signage that covered the walls of the truck; the sign above the tip jar read in big bold letters: “IF YOU ARE ON YOUR PHONE, WE CAN’T HELP YOU!” Another next to a bench advised patrons to pull their pants up, or they’d be refused service. My personal favorite, however, was the message written on the whiteboard pinned above the menu: ”We are not mind readers. If you don’t order LEAN, don’t complain!” The abundance of customers sitting at benches near the front counter didn’t seem to mind the signs one bit; a woman sat with her young son, pointing at the cars that passed by. A group of older men played cards, each staring intensely at their deck. A teenager sat alone at one of the corner benches, taking a picture of the skyline. Brooks’ seemed to bring people from all walks of life together.

“Can I help you, hon?” A voice almost as loud as my own pulled me from my reverie. A female employee had come to the counter, wearing a warm smile.

I froze. I hadn’t even looked at the menu.

“Ribs,” I sputtered like an idiot. I’d never even touched a plate of ribs. “I’ll take a rib plate.”

“Any sides?” The kind woman’s patient gaze was piercing my soul. I picked the first thing I saw on the list of sides.

“Garlic potatoes, thank you.”

When my food was ready, I decided to sit at one of the benches and eat; that way, the barbeque experience would feel more “authentic”. The smell of the food was tantalizing; I all but ripped the take-out container open, more than ready for the meal waiting for me.

Because I’d never eaten ribs before, I decided to ease myself into things by trying the garlic potatoes first. Upon first glance, the potatoes seemed pretty simplistic; a few cubes, seasoned with garlic and a few other herbs. I nonchalantly popped one into my mouth, expecting it to taste like any other batch of boiled potatoes one could find at a barbeque joint. I found myself absolutely floored by the explosion of flavor in every bite; I could definitely taste the garlic, but it meshed well with the other seasonings in the potato. Even though it was only the side, the garlic potatoes had a “kick” to them that made them worthy of being the star of a dish.

Then, I had to tackle the ribs. Though I’d never eaten ribs before, I decided not to think about the logistics too much; I simply poured barbeque sauce over the ribs, and popped one in my mouth.

The ribs felt like childhood, if that makes sense.

When I bit into the meat, I couldn’t help but think back to those distant summers in my grandmother’s backyard, when I’d play tag with my cousins while my uncles tended to the grill. The well-smoked meat practically fell off the bone, and yes, it was so tender that it “melted in my mouth”. Each bite made me feel a mixture of happiness and nostalgia; the ribs made me think of happier, simpler times. When I finished the plate, I realized that only the bones were left of the ribs; for an eater as picky as me, that’s definitely a feat. I also realized why people looked at me strangely when I told them that I’d never eaten ribs before; with how amazing they taste, I’m sure people felt sorry that I’d never experienced the almighty power of the rib firsthand.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Brooks’ Place. The atmosphere was nice and very fitting for a southern barbeque establishment. The signs gave the place a more personal feel and definitely made me laugh. The food, as you can infer from my description of it, was amazing; Brooks’ Place undoubtedly has the best barbeque that I’ve ever consumed. And to make it even better, visiting Brooks’ Place gave me a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Rating: 13 ribs out of 13.