Tales from the pits, a Texas BBQ podcast featuring trendsetters, leaders, and icons from the barbecue industry
TFP BBQ Ep. 94 - Schulenberg City Market

TFP BBQ Ep. 94 - Schulenberg City Market

February 18, 2019

Before large scale meat packers and fast transport allowed for meat products to be cut offsite and sold by the case, towns were served by local meat markets and butchers who broke down entire animals and large cuts, called primal cuts, into portions that the end customer purchased. Unsold meats and the left over trimmings weren't tossed away, they were utilized in sausage. The art of sausage making came to Texas via Czech and German immigrants and you can still experience these meat markets, homemade sausages, and hot barbecue on the weekends across Texas. Many open early and they are a great first stop on a Texas barbecue road trip.

After deciding the big city life wasn't for him, Lukas Smrkovsky returned to his hometown of Schulenburg, Texas and is carrying on his family's meat market and sausage making legacy into their third generation.

City Market in Schulenburg has been part of the Smrkovsky family legacy since 1944 starting with brothers Rudy and Tony. Rudy bought out his brother in the early 1960s and in the 1970s moved the operation from downtown Schulenburg to where it is now, right on Highway 77 just south of I-10. Rudy's son Roy and his wife Carolyn took over the business in the early 1980s and Roy's son Lukas now oversees the day-to-day operations which includes producing approximately 10,000 pounds of sausage every week.

City Market is a classic style meat market which offers a variety of cuts for retail, over two dozen types of scratch made sausage, and their famous hot dog wieners. Be sure to try their jalapeno sausage, not overly spicy, and Schulenberg City Market may have been the first to develop the variety. On Saturday mornings they serve a BBQ menu out of their over 40 year old brick pits including brisket, ribs, sausage, pork steak, and chicken.

Check out this ad for City Market from 1952:



Schulenburg City Market
109 Kessler Ave.
Schulenburg, TX 78956

Mon-Fri: 8 am - 5:30 pm
Saturday: 8 am - 2 pm

TFP BBQ Ep. 93 - Smokin’ Z’s BBQ

TFP BBQ Ep. 93 - Smokin’ Z’s BBQ

February 11, 2019

Smokin’ Z’s BBQ

Smokin’ Z’s BBQ opened in Bayou Vista, TX less than a year ago, but young business owners Zaid and Mallory are already producing a menu of quality barbecue that is a welcome addition to the waterfront community of which they are a part.

Zaid’s passion for barbecue grew from his love of cooking and his family’s background of hospitality. A high school teacher showed an interest in Zaid and offered him her old BBQ pit, and he soon began tinkering with smoking meats. 

When Zaid and Mallory met after high school and settled in the communities around Galveston island, they began doing small catering jobs for friends. Zaid’s passion for Texas barbecue grew as he visits places like Truth Barbeque and became more aware of the craft barbecue movement.

The young couple purchased a food trailer and, after a few regulatory hurdles that often arise with new businesses, opened on weekends in Bayou Vista. Serving a menu of the essentials (brisket, ribs, pulled pork) along with embracing the craft of sausage making, Smokin’ Z’s BBQ has been a hit amongst the locals. They’ve also introduced creative menu specials such as tacos using Caramelo duck fat tortillas, brisket grilled cheese, and more. This is a truly family operated business with both Zaid and Mallory working to produce the menu and serve each weekend.


Smokin’ Z’s BBQ

Open Saturdays & Sundays: 11 am - sellout

3115 Hwy 6

Bayou Vista, TX

Instagram: @smokinzsbbq

Twitter: @smokinzsbbq


Also mentioned on this episode:

Caramelo Tortillas: https://www.caramelotortillas.com/

Sausage Kings of Austin: https://www.facebook.com/events/347167755890795/

HouBBQ Fest: https://houbbq.com/

Red Dirt BBQ Fest: http://reddirtbbqfest.com/

Pints in the Park: http://www.pintsintheparkwaco.com/  (Date to be announced soon)




TFP BBQ Ep. 92 - Brett’s Barbecue Shop

TFP BBQ Ep. 92 - Brett’s Barbecue Shop

February 4, 2019

Brett Jackson grew up in Katy, Texas eating at Nonmacher's BBQ, a long time institution in that community. After growing up and trying a few career paths, Brett went to culinary school in Austin and soon after answered a Craigslist ad to be a BBQ apprentice in Taylor, Texas.

Upon walking into the famed Louie Mueller BBQ and interviewing with Wayne Mueller, Brett knew where he wanted to be. He got the job and over the course of the next two years would learn how to make sausage and cook brisket by feel and instinct.

Brett eventually made his way back to the Houston area and after a few barbecue opportunities that ultimately didn't last, began exploring what it would take to open his own place. It was around this time they he had heard Nonmacher's, his childhood BBQ spot, had closed. Brett spoke with the landlord and owner and a deal was struck for him to open his own place in the spot he grew up eating and on the very pit Nonmacher's used for many years.

Brett's BBQ Shop opened in September 2018 and quickly developed a reputation of quality in the Katy area. Serving the BBQ essentials of brisket, pork ribs and housemade sausages as well as creative specials, Brett's BBQ Shop has hit the ground running and is a welcome addition to an area that needed more good barbecue.

Brett's Barbecue Shop

606 Mason Rd, Katy, TX 77450

Monday Closed
Tuesday Closed
Wednesday 11:30AM–sell out
Thursday 11:30AM-sell out
Friday 11:30AM–sell out
Saturday 11:30AM–sell out
Sunday 11:30AM–sell out

TFP BBQ EP. 91 - Charleston Wine + Food announcement

TFP BBQ EP. 91 - Charleston Wine + Food announcement

January 22, 2019

We recently received some exciting news we wanted to share. We do our best to bring exciting, unique, and wide ranging coverage of the barbecue world and have been so fortunate to have had some incredible experiences. We were just made aware of another fantastic event for which we will be in attendance.

We'll be attending Charleston Wine + Food March 6-10 in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. We'll be bringing you extended coverage of the event with of course a focus on the barbecue and live fire events. This event brings together dozens of acclaimed chefs, pitmasters, culinary talents along with wine and spirits professionals for a myriad of incredible events.

Just a sample of some of the amazing BBQ personnel in attendance: Sam Jones, Fox Bros BBQ, Rodney Scott, John Lewis, ZZQ, LeAnn Mueller, Jess Pryles, Mike and Amy Mills, Laura Loomis, Carey Bringle, and more. Our sincere thanks to Charleston Wine + Food for this unbelievable opportunity.

A few of the other BBQ events we're looking forward to in Texas coming soon:

  • Super Beef presented by Saint Arnold and HOUBBQ
  • HOUBBQ Festival
  • Red Dirt BBQ and Music Festival

Please follow us on social media:
Instagram: @talesfromthepits
Twitter: @bbqpodcast

Please follow Charleston Wine + Food on social media:
Instagram: @chswineandfood
Twitter: @chswineandfood
For tickets to all of the Charleston Wine + Food events please go to: www.charlestonwineandfood.com


TFP BBQ Ep. 90 - Black Board BBQ

TFP BBQ Ep. 90 - Black Board BBQ

January 14, 2019

The road to opening Black Board Bar B Q was a winding one for chefs Jo Irizarry and Jake Gandolfo.

Jo went to culinary school as a passion despite having a successful personal career. This eventually lead to being a personal chef for a professional football player, while Jake's passion for cooking earned him a spot on the popular cooking show MasterChef.

Jake and Jo began dating and through the perfect alignment of circumstances began to consider opening their own restaurant. After successful pop ups with former Sisterdale Smokehouse owners John and Lori Maywald, they were inspired to reopen that location as Black Board Bar B Q.

Black Board showcases the chef's culinary creativity and commitment to high quality ingredients alongside traditional Texas meats. With creative dishes such as Lukenbach Lollipops - mostly deboned flash fried quail - and whimsical plays on dishes such as an acidic Asian themed slaw and a version of corn maque choux featuring poblano peppers and flash fried Brussels sprouts, Black Board offers the customer a tasty and unique menu experience not commonly found in BBQ restaurants.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/127751881117224

Twitter: https://twitter.com/blackboardbarbq

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackboardbarbq


Blackboard is located not far from Luckenbach Texas on some great roads, get out and explore Texas Barbecue

1123 Sisterdale Road, Boerne, TX 78006, US

Monday - Wednesday : Closed
Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 12 PM - 8 PM
Sunday: 12 PM to 6 PM

TFP BBQ Ep. 89 - Direct Heat Resurgence

TFP BBQ Ep. 89 - Direct Heat Resurgence

January 7, 2019
Direct heat is one of the oldest forms of cooking known to man. While the offset style of BBQ cooking has taken the world by storm, we have recently seen a resurgence in the old ways of direct heat coal cooking. 

Top BBQ cooks like Evan LeRoy and his crew, John Brotherton, Brett Boren and others have begun utilizing direct heat pits to cook different proteins, while places like Cooper's BBQ and Snow's have been utilizing this method for years. Even high end restaurants have begun preparing different items utilizing direct heat and live fire preparations.

In this episode we discuss our recent direct heat-heavy BBQ tour and are joined briefly by Evan LeRoy and Brad Robinson to talk about their direct heat cooking.

TFP BBQ Ep. 88 - Our Year in BBQ 2018

TFP BBQ Ep. 88 - Our Year in BBQ 2018

December 31, 2018
2018 was an incredible year for BBQ, and we were fortunate to be able to attend some great events and had many memorable experiences in the world of smoked meat. 

We traveled far and wide to help share some amazing barbecue stories in 2018. We ate BBQ in over 60 cities across a dozen states in 2018, and we have big plans for more great BBQ travel in the new year.

A huge thanks goes out to the wonderful people in the barbecue world who were generous with their time in coming on our show and to all of those that took the time to listen to our 2018 episodes.

TFP Ep. 87 - BBQ Friends and 2019 Predictions

TFP Ep. 87 - BBQ Friends and 2019 Predictions

December 24, 2018

We begin winding down 2018 with a fun talk with some of our friends in BBQ. Patrick Hernandez, Kristin Collins, and Joseph Quellar from JQ's TexMex BBQ join us to talk about some of their favorite barbecue experiences in 2018.

After posing a list of question to our friends, we also take the time to look back at some of the more memorable moments of the year in BBQ for us and offer some predictions for what's to come in 2019.

Have any plans for BBQ in 2019? Reach out to us on Twitter @BBQPodcast or Instagram TalesFromthePits and let us know! If you are a business and have an event scheduled, tell us the info so we can share it and/or come visit

We don't have sponsors and are self funded, but want to do us a solid? You can send us a case of beer or give our podcast a review on whatever app you are listening to us on, we'd appreciate it! 


TFP BBQ Ep. 86 - Opie’s Barbecue

TFP BBQ Ep. 86 - Opie’s Barbecue

December 17, 2018
Todd and Kristin Ashmore started Opie's BBQ in 1999, a simpler time in the Texas barbecue world. The Ashmores had careers outside of the BBQ world, but decide to throw their hat in the ring after years of traveling around and eating at other places. They opened in Spicewood, Texas, a town 35 miles west of Austin. Opie's uses mesquite wood and takes some style hints from west Texas barbecue joints while bringing central Texas style cooking in as well as adding their own touches to provide an experience like no other.
Opie's started with a very humble roadside stand and over the years has expanded both in location size and menu options, and was one of the pioneers of the "full meal experience" we have come to love so much in Texas barbecue. With unique, high quality sides and desserts to complement their mesquite smoked meats, Opie's has long been a destination for BBQ lovers. Don't forget to budget for one or more of their great rock and roll themed shirts, too!
A family operation from day one, Todd and Kristin's daughter Courtney and her husband Seth also work in the restaurant as kitchen manager and pitmaster, respectively. With nearly 20 years under their built, Opie's is showing no signs of slowing down as they continue to provide a great experience for their customers seven days a week.
And don't forget, the butterbeans are dine-in only!
TFP BBQ Ep. 85 - Houston Vs Austin BBQ Throwdown 2018

TFP BBQ Ep. 85 - Houston Vs Austin BBQ Throwdown 2018

December 13, 2018
The second annual Houston vs Austin BBQ Throwdown presented by HOUBBQ was full of creativity and tough competition. A dozen competitors from both cities as well as two wild card entries battled it out for this year's BBQ bragging rights. The People's Choice Champion for this year was Beaver's in Houston, and the Judge's Choice Champion was wild card entry Bodacious Bar-B-Q (original location on Mobberly Avenue in Longview, Texas).
In our episode recapping the event we discuss the different dishes as well as speak to Jordan Jackson and Bryan Bingham from Bodacious about their winning dish. If you haven't signed up for the HOUBBQ newsletter, go to www.HOUBBQ.com  today and get signed up to get the latest news on all of their upcoming events, the next event being the Houston Barbecue Festival taking place April 14, 2019 at the Humble Civic Center in Humble, Texas.
The event was held at Friends & Allies brewery in Austin Texas, Participating Austin-area barbecue joints included: Banger's Sausage House, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue , Micklethwait Craft Meats, Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew, and Brotherton's Black Iron Barbecue

Houston barbecue joints participating were : Beaver’s, Daddy Duncan's BBQ, El Burro & the Bull, Harlem Road Texas BBQ, and Victorian's Barbecue.

Bodacious Bar-B-Q from Longview and Brett's Backyard Bar-B-Que from Rockdale participated as wildcard entries.