Food & Drink | June 24, 2022 6:00 am

These Childhood Friends Are Cooking Up Some of Houston’s Most Creative Barbecue

“Maybe a year or so in, I was like, ‘Hey, let's try something crazy.’”

Spread from Blood Bros
Spread from Blood Bros
Vyvy Nguyen

Texas barbecue is the stuff of legend, but it’s also varied in its offerings. For the trio that opened Blood Bros. BBQ in Houston, it was important to showcase the city’s diverse range of international influences. And as the name implies, family is also a significant part of the business.

“[Brothers] Robin and Terry [Wong] were [my] childhood friends, and they owned a bar for about 10 years. After high school, we kind of lost touch a little bit, but we’d run into each other here and there,” says pitmaster Quy Hoang, who was born in Vietnam but grew up with the pair in Houston’s Alief neighborhood. 

Hoang ran into them years later, in 2014, when the Wong brothers owned a karaoke bar. The three started hanging out more and more. At the bar’s customer appreciation party, Hoang offered to cook. It was well-received, so the bar started having a weekly steak night. He had until then avoided barbecue because of the time and effort required, but soon started experimenting with his Weber grill. 

“I started taking food down to the bar during our steak nights just for the staff,” he says. “Customers would start like, ‘Hey, I smell barbecue.’ So we start kind of handing out samples and a lot of customers are like, ‘Man, y’all have a good product — have y’all thought about doing anything with barbecue?’”

Hoang had his hands full with his day job, but a friend of Robin’s was selling a smoker. The three pals pitched in to buy it, starting what would become Blood Bros. as a pop-up. 

“We did that for quite a while, and we got invited to a barbecue fest here in town — it just kind of grew in popularity,” Hoang recalls. 

Not long after, they signed a lease in a Bellaire strip mall, starting with the “Texas trinity” of brisket, ribs and sausage. But it wasn’t long before the flavors from their upbringings were incorporated. 

“I think maybe a year or so [in], I felt comfortable enough with our product, and I was like, ‘Hey, let’s try something crazy,’” Hoang says. “And we did this gochujang beef belly burnt ends — I think that was the dish that got us invited to the first barbecue festival.” 

The best time to experience what sets Blood Bros. apart is on Thursdays, when the team let their creativity run wild, with menus often following a theme. You never know what you might find, like brisket burnt end steam buns and smoked turkey banh mi. 

“It is almost like our research night,” says Hoang. “Originally, our Thursday nights were going to be sandwich heavy, like a lot of cooked to order sandwiches and stuff like that.” Now these nights are also reservation-only and often filled by friends and family of the owners. As Hoang notes, “The support from the community’s been great.”