BBQ History

Eugene “Hot Sauce” Williams

The contributions of African Americans to our country’s barbecue culture are often overlooked. The influences can be hard to trace, which make it tempting to ignore them. Throughout Texas and the rest of the country, records of black barbecue culture are either gone or never existed in the first place. Most newspapers and magazines were written by and for whites, and mentions of black men and women making real social contributions were few, especially when it comes to restaurants. It…

The First Barbecue Joint in Texas?

For years, I’ve been on a quest to definitively answer a question that has plagued me since I began researching the history of barbecue: what was the first barbecue joint in Texas? Loyal readers of TMBBQ will remember that in August 2013, I wrote about the post-Civil War wave of butcher shops and the resulting first boom of commercial barbecue. As I noted then: The first mention of commercial smoked meat in [the University of North…

When Dallas Barbecued a Super Bowl Buffalo

It was six in the morning on Sunday, January 31, 1993, and Karl Kuby Sr. had just started cooking a couple of bison over an open fire in a Tom Thumb grocery store parking lot. Later that evening, after OJ Simpson flipped the coin and Michael Jackson entertained at halftime, the Dallas Cowboys would defeat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII (and again the next year), but not before 3,000 people in Dallas feasted on a publicity stunt. A…

Eastern North Carolina BBQ at Skylight Inn

Skylight Inn cooks whole hogs over wood coals in Ayden, North Carolina just like they did when they first opened in 1947. This past weekend I embedded myself with Samuel Jones, the third generation of the Skylight Inn family, at BBQ on the Neuse. The event was centered around a whole hog cooking competition pitting eighty-four teams against one another. Their steel cookers, propane tanks, and cherry-red hogs were on display across the festival grounds,…

Brisket Hash in El Paso

They’ve been smoking briskets over mesquite since Tony’s The Pit Bar-B-Q opened in 1958. Tony Vargas Sr. started the place, but according to Martha Vargas, it was her husband Tony Vargas Jr. that’s responsible for its most famous menu item – brisket hash. Mrs. Vargas recited the ingredient list without hesitation when I visited recently. “It’s brisket trimmings, and potatoes. [Tony Jr.] added bell peppers, onions, and the spices. It’s also cumin, garlic, Worcestershire, and…

Texas Barbecue Appreciation Society

For forty years, Paul Burka has been a part of Texas Monthly. His retirement officially begins today, on Texas Independence Day. His legacy will live on in Texas Monthly’s list of the best and worst legislators, and his celebrated career has made an impact on Texas politics. But what few know is that before his career in journalism, Burka was a Texas barbecue lobbyist. Paul Burka’s love affair with Texas barbecue began on October 8, 1966. Griffin Smith…

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