The marriage of barbecue flavors and Mexican dishes is perhaps one of the most natural in our country. Cooking meat in big Texas smokers infuses them with incredibly delicious flavors, while the spices and complimentary sides in Mexican cuisine help bring out the meat’s inherent smokiness. Dive into this ultimate fusion food by learning about what it is, where you can find it, and how to make your own.
What Is Tex-Mex Barbecue?
Tex-Mex Barbecue is a fusion of Texas barbecue and another popular cuisine (which was itself a fusion), Tex-Mex. The invention of Tex-Mex first occurred in the 1940s as Texas and Mexico fused their foods together. Today, tacos, burritos, chorizo, margaritas, and taquitos are widely beloved throughout the land.
This combo cuisine has made it across the country, namely in major restaurant chains such as Chipotle and Moe’s. However, the barbecue portion of Tex-Mex BBQ is unique to the Texas style. In the United States, the four styles of barbecue are Memphis, Kansas City, Carolina, and Texas, and Tex-Mex barbecue is a modern twist on the latter style. Every state fiercely defends their own barbecue, but Texas claims to have spread the basic technique to the others.
Texas barbecue got its start from butchers smoking leftover meat to prevent it from spoiling. As the smoking process was slow, it made the meat’s quality inconsequential so it didn’t matter if past pitmasters used the best cuts. Once cooks combined the style of Texas barbecue with the flavor fusion of Tex-Mex, they created an undoubtedly delicious cuisine.
Where Is The Best Tex-Mex Barbecue?
It’s no big surprise that the best makers of this cuisine are in the Lone Star state itself. All of these cooks make smoky, spice, flavorful, and meaty dishes, while adding their own twists from their various upbringings. At Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ in Austin, pitmaster Miguel Vidal honors the food from his family barbecues that he grew up eating. Vidal grills classic Texan brisket, but uses guacamole based on his mother’s recipe for extra creaminess and tortillas instead of white bread. In San Antonio, Esaul Ramos runs and co-owns 2M Smokehouse and Catering. Ramos combines the Mexican flavors from his youth with his training at one of the best barbecue restaurants in Texas. Barbecue lovers from across the state come to eat his flavor-infused brisket, house-made sausage links, and cumin barbacoa smoked in banana leaves.
Tex-Mex Shredded Beef Barbecue Sandwiches
Are you inspired yet? You can easily make your own Tex-Mex BBQ in the form of shredded beef sandwiches. Cut a three-pound beef brisket in half and start cooking it on your smoker grill or in your slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine one jar of hickory smoke barbecue sauce, a half cup of finely chopped onion, one envelope of chili seasoning, one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, one teaspoon of minced garlic, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Brush this onto your beef to infuse it with flavor, and cook until the meat is tender and ready. Once it’s ready, shred the beef, serve on buns, and enjoy. For bonus points, add pickled jalapenos to taste.
Whether you make your own Tex-Mex Barbecue or trust the professionals to do it, you will thoroughly enjoy the fusion of style and flavors that this cuisine offers.