After making a name for himself hosting pop-up events, Brandon Hurtado finally opened his brick-and-mortar in February 2020. Hurtado Barbecue drew two hundred customers on opening day—and then the pandemic set in. Through the shutdown and the beef shortage that followed, Hurtado has remained resilient.

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

My dad taught me how to cook on an offset smoker when I was just a kid. He used to cook for the City of Irving’s Christmas parties each year. I thought it was a TON of food at the time.

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

Panther City really inspired me to get into barbecue. I remember talking with Chris and Ernie when I was only doing pop-ups, and I immediately knew I wanted to do barbecue full-time. Their humbleness and willingness to share information about their journey was inspiring.

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

I want our customers to know that we’re constantly pushing the envelope to bring inventive barbecue to the table—and that, while we have barbecue staples available, our specials will constantly change for the better.

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

Yes! I’m constantly creating new sausage recipes and finding ways to infuse Tex-Mex food with barbecue. I think there’s always room for improvement and am never really satisfied.

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

Last weekend at “For the Love of Barbecue” in Roanoke. Wright On Taco had killer “porkstrami” tacos.

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

The pork hash from Goldee’s—someone brought it to me recently and it was incredible.

What’s the best beverage to wash down BBQ?

Topo Chico – Twist of Lime

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

We use skewers from a s’mores kit to sear tri-tip and other steaks in our fireboxes.

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

Try the same place more than once. You’d be surprised how many bbq joints have different specials and revolving menus. Order online if possible and skip the line when you can!

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