Cotten’s Barbecue – CLOSED

226 W. Bitters Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78216

Phone: (210) 403-2277

Opened 2013
Method Gas-fired Rotisserie with Mesquite

TMBBQ Rating: 2.5


Comments from our joint finder app.
Awesome brisket and ribs!
David Monasmith @ Pecan Lodge, 2014-09-19 18:10:20
Kent Black's BBQ. San Marcos. Brisket moist smokey an TENDER! Keeping up the family tradition.
Andrew Imm @ , 2014-09-19 18:10:13
Tender, good flavor, could use more smoke. Much better than the fast food barbecue down the street
charles hodge @ Big Boys Barbecue, 2014-09-19 18:04:52
Stanley's - Tyler Ribs - beautiful, perfectly pink. Soft, almost oddly mushy, but with a tasty sweetness that I enjoyed. Brisket - well cooked, tender, but a bit dry and not much smoke flavor at all. The bark was thin, as was the smoke ring. Overall good, but nothing to really make it stand out. Gets a 'meh' B from me.
Scott Jarvis @ Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q, 2014-09-18 18:14:00
Had the brisket ribs and sausage all very good. Sides are over the top good. Smoked jalapeño app is amazing.
Roman @ Two Bros. BBQ Market, 2014-09-18 16:53:37
Went for "My Ribs" and "Your Ribs". Both good but latter wins out. Brisket definitely dry; was hard for me to get into. Sausage was okay. Definitely try key lime pie. Enjoyed the decor. Overall a good, not great Q place.
Rahul Yaratha @ Big Boys Barbecue, 2014-09-17 23:24:47
Brisket sandwich was good. And that's all she wrote as there is nothing else (chicken, sausage, turkey, potato salad, etc). Not even my friends who all went to Tech even heard of this place. Scratching my head on such a high TM ranking.
Rahul Yaratha @ Tom and Bingo’s Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que, 2014-09-17 23:21:48
We had Friday night dinner here. Brisket was tender and delicious. A little too much fat for my husband, but my daughter and I thought it was PERFECT. Good seasoning and good bark. No sauce needed. Homemade creamed corn is the best I have ever had. Coleslaw is delicious and not overdressed. We finished the meal with the homemade fried strawberry pies - one of the tastiest desserts I have ever put in my mouth. Live music. Dishes served family style. <$40 for 3 people including soft drinks and several beers. Definitely will go back!
Marcy Newman @ Two Bros. BBQ Market, 2014-09-17 22:16:13
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Cottens SA Header

September 10, 2013

Update: This joint is permanently CLOSED.

2013: This is the second in a dual review. It’s rare to find two barbecue joints with food so similar to one another, but Cotten’s Catering in Calallen and Cotten’s Barbecue in San Antonio are nearly dead ringers. It all goes back to 1947 when Joe Cotten starting selling barbecue in Robstown just south of Corpus Christi. The joint was host to presidents and celebrities and was one of Texas Monthly’s Top 50 barbecue joints in 1997. All of that history came to a dramatic close when a fire erupted on March 2, 2011 and destroyed the much heralded Joe Cotten’s. Its burned out remains stuck around for months while owner Cecil Cotten hoped that it would be rebuilt as did his brother and Joe Cotten’s manager Kenneth. The cause of the fire was never determined, and the rebuild never happened. The building was leveled in early 2012, but the empty lot and the lonely sign still remain along US Highway 77.

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The sign at the original location in Robstown

Kenneth Cotten was a manager at Joe Cotten’s. The fire started during dinner service, so he and dozens of employees and patrons watched it burn. After plans for rebuilding didn’t materialize, Kenneth moved to San Antonio to open a new location of Cotten’s Barbecue. It’s in a strip center, but the space is enormous. There weren’t many customers when I was there in a Wednesday night, but I sat at the bar anyway hoping for a quick stop and a to-go order.

There wasn’t a menu, at least one wasn’t offered. The bartender recited the options for plates, and I went with the three meat option. I didn’t specify lean or fatty, so I got lean. From what I’ve read the menu denotes a “stringy brisket” option which I surmise to mean fatty. I’ve just never heard it referred to like that. I was driving, so I also missed out on the white peach sangria and the prickly pear margarita just added to the menu too. When the bill came it was a comedy of errors. The credit card machine was out, but the bartender said she’d just do it manually. They needed my ID as well. Those were held hostage for ten minutes before I realized they were sitting on the other side waiting for what I wasn’t sure. I offered to pay cash and get out, but the sale had already been made. I just needed my receipt. The bartender huddled with two other employees in what I thought was a discussion about my receipt, but they all dispersed into different directions, none toward my seat at the bar, as my card sat there. I had my food by now, but had to walk over to a manager and ask for a the receipt before it found its way back along with my credit card. It was finally time for dinner.

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The food was packaged exactly as it had been in the Calallen location. Just one taste of the beans, potato salad and sauce confirmed they were the exact same recipe that was being used in Calallen as well. The taut sausage link bursted with juice and flavor while the pork filling was well seasoned. The pork ribs needed more time in the smoker to tenderize and to pick up more smoke, but their black pepper kick was pleasant enough. The smoke on the brisket was much more pronounced, as was its girth. This was the thickest slice of brisket I’ve ever been served. It nearly equaled the rib and the sausage link in width. It didn’t help matters that it was a tight slice of flat which was a bit dry and undercooked. It took some real jaw power to put away a few bites. I thought this might be an anomaly until I read a number of online reviews complaining of this very thing. Brisket is already a tough cut of meat, so it’s just adding one more potential problem to slice it so thick.

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Service issues aside, this new version of Cotten’s Barbecue is still serviceable. Seeing the consistency between the food served here and at the family’s other location in Calallen is heartening. It’s good to know that family traditions can be carried on over such a long period, and in this case a long distance. Now I’m just hoping that thick brisket slice can become a thing of the past.