This article is part of a series that spotlights Texas pitmasters in their own words, available exclusively to TM BBQ Club members.

Esaul Ramos Jr. got his start as the lead pitmaster at La Barbecue in Austin. In 2015, he moved back to his hometown of San Antonio and opened up 2M Smokehouse, an unassuming spot that impressively melds the flavors of Tex-Mex and barbecue. 2M just landed its second spot on the Top 50 list after making it back in 2017 after only two years in business.

Tell me about the first person who taught you about barbecue.

I grew up cooking barbecue with my dad. Cooking either just for our family on the weekends or for parties we would have through out the year.

Do you remember a backyard or a barbecue joint that started your barbecue obsession?

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew was the first joint I ever ate at outside of San Antonio. It was one of the main things that lit my passion for barbecue.

What message are you trying to share to your customers through your food?

We want people to feel like they’re eating with family. That’s why we use ingredients that we grew up with. Food brings all walks of life together, and that’s what we try to do each day here at 2M. Leave the BS at the door and have a great meal with great people.

As a professional pitmaster, are you a BBQ Freak just like the rest of us? 

I’m one hundred percent a BBQ Freak! For me, it’s the constant fire burning each day that drives me to improve, continue learning the craft, and better my techniques. It’s understood that nothing in this trade is given. Everything is earned when it comes to barbecue.

When was the last time you ate someone else’s barbecue besides your own?

I had Bandit BBQ on Thursday for dinner, and it was really good!

What’s the most surprising BBQ dish you’ve eaten?

The prime rib sandwich from ZZQ.

What’s the best beverage to wash down BBQ?

Really good homemade tea or lemonade.

What’s a tool you use in cooking that might not seem like an obvious barbecue tool?

I wear cotton gloves under my nitrile gloves. You wouldn’t think you’d need them, but when you’re cooking and handling hot meat, they’re one of the best tools I have.

What recommendations do you have for someone new to Texas ’cue?

If a place is sold out of what you came for, give whatever’s available a try. Barbecue in Texas is an experience, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and chat with the crew.

Want to connect with some of your favorite Texas pitmasters, like Esaul? Join our members-only TM BBQ Club Facebook Group.