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Dining Guide

The Smoking Oak

Photograph by Daniel Vaughn

In an area where most barbecue joints offer tacos along with beans and rice, Mario Dominguez Jr., owner of The Smoking Oak, wanted to bring a flavor of Central Texas to the Valley rather than duplicating what was already here. He may be from Mercedes, but his barbecue schooling is straight out of Austin. The brisket is a stunner; tender, well-seasoned, and juicy, no matter which end it was cut from. The brisket is not just good for the Valley, it would hold up in Central Texas too. Praise for the pork shoulder, however, need not be bound by state lines. Every tender chunk of meat and bark is warmly embraced by luscious pork fat. Smoke and spices mingle amongst morsels of meat that a blind man would swear had been smoked confit. This is barbecue that makes you want to close your eyes so your mouth doesn’t get distracted.

City: Mercedes


Method: oak in an indirect heat pit

Pitmaster: Mario Dominguez Jr.

Price: $

Rating: ★★★★

Address: 546 Hidalgo St., Mercedes, TX, 78570

Hours: W-Sun 11-4

Phone: (956) 565-2246

Year Opened: 2015

Last updated: November 12, 2015