“You know that’s gonna take 25 minutes,” the waitress will warn when you order fried chicken at the Barbecue Inn in North Houston. Just smile politely and tell her that’s fine with you. And be forewarned–nobody orders barbecue at Barbecue Inn.
The legendary restaurant at the corner of Yale and Crosstimbers opened in 1957. The waitresses have all been there for decades. And the cooks make the best fried chicken in the city. The chicken-fried steak in evaporated milk-spiked cream gravy is also sensational. And so are the “French-fried shrimp.” Get a baked potato and the waitress will bring you the stainless steel condiment carousel loaded with sour cream, green onion, cheddar and bacon bits.
I asked David Skrehot, the third-generation manager to fill me in on the history.
How did a restaurant named Barbecue Inn get famous for fried chicken and how did it get the name to begin with? Skrehot told me that his grandfather was a butcher and when he started the place he built a big brick barbecue pit. His father, Wayne Skrehot, replaced the old brick pit with a stainless steel smoker. The restaurant’s reputation for barbecue went into decline after the pit was demolished.
David brought an order of barbecued ribs over to our table and insisted we taste them. They were pleasant, but had very little smoke flavor. My advice for Barbecue Inn visitors is to stick with the fried food.
What’s the secret of the utterly greaseless chicken? Skrehot said the chicken was simply single-dipped and deep-fried. “But we are one of the last restaurants in town that makes fried chicken to order,” he added.