“Don’t miss dessert.” It’s a cliché often added to the end of a restaurant review, which means the reviewer assumes you’re going to skip it. But if the folks at 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ in Tomball didn’t serve anything besides their banana pudding, I’d still recommend a visit. It’s so good, the barbecue itself is hard to remember. That’s what notes and photos are for, I guess. A few suggestions of what to get with your banana pudding will follow, but let’s dive into dessert first.
I’ve eaten this banana pudding twice. The first time was inside my car in the 2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ parking lot in December 2020. The joint had installed a new drive-through window as a pandemic response, and the pudding arrived in a clear-plastic pint container. Beneath the pudding was an unexpected waffle. It got a bit messy tearing the waffle with my fork while extracting some of the pudding, fresh bananas, and chocolate whipped cream. The waffle was made to order and the pudding didn’t come from a boxed powder. I was hooked, and knew I’d be back to learn more about this creation.
Richard Rodriguez and Chris Clarabut own the restaurant, which opened in 2019. They first teamed up to cater a family member’s wedding reception in 2015, and they continued the partnership to create a successful catering operation. Ashley Clarabut, Clarabut’s wife and Rodriguez’s daughter, suggested the name for the two guys who were cooking on one pit at the time (there are now two pits at the restaurant), and it stuck. Rodriguez is the pitmaster and Clarabut is the executive chef and manager.
Clarabut said the pudding “is the representation of our old school–new school approach” and is a great example of how he and his father-in-law collaborate. Rodriguez already had a recipe for a custard-based banana pudding, while Clarabut wanted to add a special touch. He devised a waffle recipe that uses mashed bananas, and the batter hits the hot waffle iron only after a customer orders the dessert. During a recent visit to the restaurant, the dessert came in an opaque bowl, and the chocolate was gone from the whipped cream. The warm waffle barely peeked out from under the pudding. With the aid of both a fork and knife this time, it was far easier to tackle, and no less satisfying than before.
As promised, there is also barbecue. Rodriguez has been smoking meats for decades at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. He joined the Brisket Cases team in 2000, and the group is currently setting up for this year’s competition. At seventy years of age, this old dog says he’s still up for learning new tricks. In 2014 he attended Camp Brisket, put on by Foodways Texas. After using various hardwoods in his pit for years, he was surprised by the results of the blind taste test the camp held of briskets smoked with different woods. Hickory was his favorite—and the overall choice of the crowd of brisket enthusiasts—so he switched to using only hickory. That’s what flavors the meat inside the two rotisseries in the pit room. “From that class I totally changed the way I was cooking,” he told me. His changes include trimming briskets before they’re smoked rather than after.
On my generously portioned four-meat platter ($22.54), I enjoyed the well-seasoned pork ribs most. The tender meat barely clung to the bone. The brisket had great flavor, but it needed more time in the smoker to tenderize. Of the two poultry options, I preferred the smoky flavor of the sliced turkey but the juiciness of the smoked chicken.
The restaurant offers the standard range of barbecue sides all year, but I opted for the seasonal sides, which should be around for a few more weeks until the spring menu is announced. The sweet potato casserole has the sweet and crunchy praline topping mixed right in with the fluffy mashed sweet potatoes. The “Texas beans” are pintos in a rich broth, with pico de gallo and plenty of brisket chunks mixed in.
There are six beers are on draft, including three from Bearded Fox Brewing a few doors down. The most popular is Aunt Rose red helles lager, which pairs well with smoked meats. Soon, 2 Guys 1 Pit will offer twenty draft beers and a full bar once a planned expansion is complete. The restaurant has gotten so popular that it’s expanding into the two adjacent spaces in its strip center, which will triple the seating capacity. And if you need a caterer in the area, that side of the business, now run by Richard’s wife, Michelle, hasn’t slowed down—it served 139 weddings last year. They may even have to add a third pit, but I don’t think they’ll change the name. And just in case you missed the message the first few times: don’t skip dessert.
2 Guys 1 Pit BBQ
11711 Spring Cypress Road, Tomball
Hours: Sunday–Thursday 11–8, Friday–Saturday 11–9
Pitmaster: Richard Rodriguez
Method: Hickory in a gas-fired rotisserie
Year opened: 2019