Find a back issue

On the Road: Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q in Abilene, Texas

I just finished a plate of ribs, brisket, and sausage at Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q in Abilene. I’m a little short on time so I’ll make this a quick look. This joint opened in 1957 and is just about as funky a place as you’ll find. When I walked in, Harold was leading a group of about 20 school children in a gospel version of “Amen.” When he finished he said, “All right yáll, now go eat your ribs.” Then he made his way behind the counter and served us.

Jump, please.

Ribs and collard greens.

The brisket was overcooked, but the sausage was some of the best I’ve ever tried.  Ribs were small but juicy and not too fatty. Side dishes were okay—not the most inspiring versions of potato salad, cole slaw, or collard greens. The barbecue sauce was drinkable. It was deep in color and full of rich, slightly sweet flavor. All-in-all, it wasn’t the best or the worst barbecue I’ve eaten. I would have liked to ask Harold and his pit master some questions but they were closing and busy packing up the goods. 1305 Walnut Street
Abilene, TX 79601. 325-672-4451

Brisket and sausage.

3 comments on “On the Road: Harold’s Pit Bar-B-Q in Abilene, Texas

  1. I remember loving the sausage, hot water cornbread, and strawberry cobbler.

    One day Harold asked me if I was having a good day and I said “yes sir, I’m blessed.” He smiled and disappeared, returning a few moments later with a huge plate of burnt ends for me, with the stipulation that I share. Harold’s is certainly more like east Texas BBQ, and the brisket is never great, but there’s enough good stuff there to at least have sentimental longings for it.

  2. I still remember Harold’s from a business trip out there years ago.

    It’s different, as most BBQ sauces are tomato-based but Harold’s uses a molasses base that gives it a sweeter, smokier flavor. That and the hot-water cornbread makes this a standout in my memory.

  3. I went to college in Abilene and have many fond memories of Harold serving and singing his wonderful q-baskets, there is something about having to crawl into the picnic tables that elevates the bbq experience, there has been discussion about who is going to take over for Harold when he retires?