Little did I know when I wrote the following words nearly four years ago—“Please, patronize Wild Blue before it’s too late”—that my greatest fear would come true. One of the true stalwarts of Texas Barbecue–Wild Blue B.B.Q., located in the near-Brownsville city of Los Fresnos—will shut its doors on February 4. Wild Blue was included in Texas Monthly’s June 2008 story on the top fifty barbecue joints in Texas and participated in both of our barbecue festivals, in 2010 and 2011. Owner/pitmaster Abraham Avila said in a story in the Brownsville Herald that business was just too spotty in his out-of-the-way location. I remember distinctly the day I ate at Wild Blue, on my road trip through the Valley in 2008, for our top-fifty story. In a word, its barbecue blew me away. In spite of not being done on a traditional pit, it was deeply smoky, tender, and had a rub that wasn’t like anything else I had come across before. After I decided (instantly) that it was worthy of our list, I started talking with the young owner, Abraham Avila. That blew me away again. The guy had about, oh, a hundred cookbooks and food magazines lying around the joint. It turned out he was whip smart and a trained chef to boot. We must have talked for thirty minutes or more about the New York food scene (he keeps up with it), chefs we admired, and, oh yes, the future of barbecue in Texas. He admitted to me then that his true dream was to open a serious restaurant, but that barbecue seemed like a better bet in the Rio Grande Valley. He told the newspaper he’s hoping to open a restaurant (maybe his dream place) and will revive Wild Blue if he finds a good spot. Abraham, all your friends here wish you well and are keeping our fingers crossed. You people in the Valley, head over and have a brisket plate while you still can! Here is what I wrote about Wild Blue in June 2008: “Food is my life,” says young owner-pitmaster Abraham Avila, who fusses over every detail, from the brisket-seasoning rub (paprika, brown sugar, ancho chile, cumin, oregano, coriander, and kosher salt) and the satiny sweet-potato flan to the blend of apple and pecan woods in the smoker. But business is slow, as South Padre—bound tourists zoom by, hell-bent for bad tacos. Please, patronize Wild Blue before it’s too late. 31230 Texas Hwy. 100, 956-233-8185.” Breakfast Mon–Sat 7–9. Lunch Mon–Sat 11–3. Dinner Sun–Tue 5–9, Fri & Sat 5–10. (Hours and photograph from Wild Blue’s website.)
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