When we started this podcast three years ago we had no idea what the show would become or the places it would take us. We are incredibly grateful to all of the amazing people in the BBQ industry that have given us the gift of their time and their story.
The world, and more recently the United States, has begun to deal with the effects of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As large events cancel, corporations and school districts suspend operations, and people begin to stay home in large numbers, the inevitable decline in sales that small businesses will experience is frightening for many Americans.
In August of 2015 Leonard Botello and family opened up a tiny BBQ joint just outside of Brenham, Texas. There was no big grand opening, there was no meeting of the #BBQFam or podcasts, and no social media campaign. That is precisely how Leonard wanted to launch.
Bryan noticed the name change from "J's BBQ" (not to be confused with LJ's which was to open later) to "Truth Barbeque" as he drove back and forth from Austin to Houston. Gone were the old school rectangular pits and in their place was a large Klose pit. Curiosity prevailed and a stop there resulted in surprisingly good barbecue. Repeat visits proved it was not a fluke and the word began to spread.
By 2016 the word was out and lines began forming before open. In 2017 Truth landed a spot in the Texas Monthly top 10, cementing their name as one of the best barbecue joints in Texas. Plans were afoot to open a larger location in the heart of Houston's Heights neighborhood and by 2019 the almost impossibly small restaurant in Brenham had a big brother finally open.
The opening wasn't easy. Leonard wanted a quiet build but the location was identified and the demand for Truth Houston to open grew. Battling confusing and inconsistent health department enforcement and dialing in all new pits custom built for the Houston location while dealing with not just expanded cooking volume but additional business days took their toll. There was a lot of lost sleep and tweaking required to dial things in to where Leonard was satisfied with the quality.
A little after a year after opening Leonard is finally able to take a deep breath and step back a bit to enjoy what he, family, and team have built. We caught up with Leonard and Corey Taylor to find out what it was like to scale and transform a sleepy little barbecue joint into Truth BBQ Houston.
For additional background:
Visit Truth at their original location in Brenham, Texas or at their Houston location
On our way back from a recent road trip we came up with five of our favorite things happening in BBQ right now.
We discussed the following topics:
- What's old is new again
- Breaking away from the brisket bubble
- Accessibility of great BBQ
- Expansion of quality BBQ joints
- The full meal experience
Take a listen and if you like our show please make sure to tell others, and if you visit a BBQ joint or buy a pit from someone you found out about on the show, please let them know!
The DFW barbecue scene is blowing up, and popups, food trailers, and brick and mortars are opening around town.
Brandon Hurtado has progressed through popups and food trailer into a retail store front, bringing his spin on Hispanic influenced Texas Barbecue to the game.
The brick and mortar retail establishment is having the grand opening Sat Feb 22, 2020 at 205 East Front Street, Arlington, TX - go check it out!
In our episode we talk about his background, what Tex Mex influence means to him, and his vision for Hurtado Barbecue
Texas BBQ has seen massive growth in the last 10 years and many of us have been lucky to witness it firsthand. The epicenter has shifted and morphed from Central Texas; top tier BBQ is available in every major city and most towns. With the popularity, the supply and demand economics of the growing world of BBQ have altered the price of a BBQ meal from a modest blue collar staple to a luxury - but is this a bad thing?
BBQ has also embraced more cultural influences of Texas, growing beyond the original German, Czech, and African-American backgrounds to encompass Mexican and Asian flavors.
Andrew and Bryan discuss these changes, reflect on the pricing shift, and talk about a few of the more recent openings and closings.
When Justin Earley and Steven Bailey began fine tuning their barbecue skills they did what many in the current generation of pitmasters did, they turned to books and videos. While knowledge requires both learning and practice, the wealth of information available today provides a great starting point.
Their chimichurri, made by Justin's mother, helped them land a spot in Texas Monthly's Best Texas BBQ Bites of 2019 and Daniel Vaughn wrote a positive review of their menu in January of 2020. Their customer base continues to grow and is starting to bring traffic from outside of the small town of Cleburne, a little over 30 minutes south of Fort Worth.
We sampled a large part of the menu, and enjoyed it all. The Brisket and ribs were top tier. The chicken was moist with a nicely done skin, but was even better when dipped in some of their white sauce which had a hint of horseradish and citrus. As noted, the chimichurri was tasty and unique. It was thicker than standard and more like a cross between a salsa verde and chimichurri. The sausage was also a Bare Barbecue innovation with muenster cheese and a delight to eat. The pork steak was one of the reasons they were put on our visit list and we were rewarded with a great steak, normally cooked over direct heat on a Chudbox built by Bradley Robinson. Tortillas freshly made from Steven's stepmother wrapped up the meats nicely.
Bare Barbecue is open every other Saturday and we highly recommend a visit. Keep your eyes on this team as they continue to grow
Open Every Other Saturday 11am to sell out
904 W Chambers St. Cleburne, TX
Catch them online at
We answer listener submitted questions to kick off 2020
- Our prediction of BBQ trends for the year
- Tips on cooking pork steaks
- BBQ Pit recommendations
- And more!
Mentioned in this episode:
Butcher saw - Weston 47-1601 Butcher and Bone Saw with 16 Inch Stainless Steel Blade (47-1601), 16 Inch, Stainless Steel
Cut Resistant Gloves - Premium Cut Resistant Gloves - Food Grade - Level 5 Protection, High Performance Kitchen Work Safety Cutting Gloves for Food Prep, Oyster Shucking, Fish Fillet, Meat Cutting and Wood Carving, 1 Pair
2019 was another whirlwind adventure for your hosts and we had an amazing time interviewing, eating, and cooking BBQ. In this episode we recap our year including some of our favorite bites and even our worst ones too. We hope 2020 will be as fun, rewarding, and challenging as 2019 was.
Some of the events we had the pleasure to attend:
- Charleston Wine+Food
- Sausage Wars
- Red Dirt BBQ and Music Festival
- Windy City Smokeout
- Smoked Dallas
- The Butcher's Ball
- Houston Vs Austin HOU BBQ Throwdown
We describe our best and worst bites of the year, including an explicit description of a very bad visit
and an announcement of another big cross country road trip we are planning for 2020
Ben Lambert started cooking meat over fire at an early age, hunting and cooking animals with his dad. After a varied career that included everything from working as a tattoo artist to a slaughterhouse job to being a meat cutter at an old school joint, Ben eventually made his way to Austin where he’d meet his wife Sarah.
It was in Austin that his professional cooking career began to take shape. Ben worked at a well regarded place for its time, Blue Ox BBQ, and when a job opened up at Franklin Barbecue, he made the leap over there. For the next five years Ben honed his craft in the Franklin pit room with dreams of eventually opening his own place.
In mid-2019 the time had finally come for the Lamberts to launch their own business, JNL Barbecue. JNL is now serving at Buzz Mill in East Austin in their new service trailer with the meats smoked on a thousand gallon Mill Scale pit. Open weekends for now, Ben and Sarah are expanding their menu and hours as they get their operations streamlined. Armed with an undeniable dedication to the craft and a wealth of cooking knowledge, expect big things from JNL Barbecue.
Catch JNL Barbecue on Instagram: