Bob’s Bar-B-Que is a Family Affair


By Patti Light

Bob’s Bar-B-Que and Catering Service
1205 Pope Street
Henderson, TX 75652

Driving down Highway 79 in Henderson you can’t miss the red flags dancing in the wind stating “barbecue” at the corner of Pope Street. Almost no one in Henderson needs a map or assistance to find this small brown storefront that has smoked savory meats and sides since 1987 — it’s Bob’s (or in my family Mr. Bob’s). 

Bob Allen and his wife Billie began serving up ribs and chopped beef sandwiches under a shade tree by the now-demolished Washington Grocery in 1980 with a pit and warm hospitality. They soon became so popular they moved the business to a small one-room walkup on Highway 79 across from the current location. Folks from all over East Texas lined up for a juicy chopped beef sandwich. Then in 1987, the family moved to the current restaurant location where people stream in and out all day until the family closes at 7 p.m. 

“If we won’t eat it, we won’t sell it,” Allen states proudly. After 35 years of serving hungry East Texans and other folks craving true East Texas barbecue all over the world, Allen still sticks to the simple basics of good people and good food to keep everyone happy. 

Allen always wanted to cook and is a legend to many in East Texas. These days he leaves most of the cooking to his sons, Michael and Mitchell. 

Allen family members don’t just make great food, they make great friends. When Bob retires, the smoke will keep billowing from the building filling the streets with hickory scents and the stories still will be served at the counter with St. Louis-style ribs by the next generation. 

Allen does not do a recommendation. 

“Anything on that board that your taste buds want,” he smiles as he lines up my brisket on the cutting board. 

So, let me and my taste buds point out a few ideas. The chicken is smoked long and slow and falls off the bone. The sausage is mild and always juicy. 

If you like hot get the hot link or savory boudin. My favorite meal is a half-pound of smoked sausage cut with beans and a piece of round cheddar cheese. 

The key to eating at Bob’s is to take the simple way. The gentlemen trim all the bark and fat off your beef, so if you want it ask for it. For some bark fans, you may be disappointed, the smoke ring is in the meat, but the bark is not layers thick. 

The turkey is smoked and trimmed deli-thin, but order some to go for lunch the next day. Ribs are smoked all day and you can order them by the pound or half-pound. If you are alone, order a one, two, or three-meat plate and pile on the creamy potato salad and beans. Sauce is on the side unless you ask for it. 

Home is what Bob’s Bar-B-Que defines for many locals. Folks drive from everywhere to get the taste that brings them rooted back to family and friends. 

“I have kids that stop to see me and get food before they go see their parents when they are coming home,” said Bob, who laughs as customers flow through getting a Thursday night dinner. 

It is true, I have been one of those kids. There are many great pit masters in East Texas and the world, but there is only one team like Bob, Billie, Michael and Mitchell Allen creating love, pride and legacy with hickory wood and spice for anyone who is hungry.

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