This Sunday is the ninth annual Texas Monthly BBQ Fest in Austin. Thirty of the state’s best pitmasters converge on The Long Center to smoke their best and offer it up to all comers. Barbecue joints as far away as Pecos and Wolfforth are making the trip to Austin, so you can enjoy what amounts to the lengthiest barbecue road trip you’ll ever take all in one afternoon.

Miguel Vidal is one of those pitmasters. He’ll be there representing Austin-based Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ, and he shares a preview of the menu they’ll be serving at the Fest with us during our interview. We also discuss how his culinary path was set during his upbringing in San Antonio, one  full of great food and fellowship. He reflected on those times when developing his unique barbecue business, which seamlessly weaves in Tex-Mex flavors along with incredible smoked meats. Unlike other Central Texas joints, which tend to prefer oak, Vidal uses only mesquite wood. He adds that smoke flavor, with great success, to fajitas, barbacoa, and of course some of the best brisket in town.

Valentina’s has also started a bit of a trend in the barbecue world. Tex-Mex and barbecue are now coming together on menus all over the state. Tamale Thursdays, enchilada Wednesdays, and Tex-Mex Tuesdays are a rapidly expanding phenomenon, and Vidal has some thoughts on how to pair these two beloved Texas cuisines in a way that respects them both. A barbecue taco is a great way to start, but Vidal explains that Tex-Mex barbecue means more to him that just adding smoked meat to a tortilla.