Convenience West BBQ
The vast landscapes and immense night skies don’t intimidate the close-knit BBQ community of Convenience West. The Marfa BBQ joint, one of the Top 50 BBQ Joints on the 2021 Texas Monthly BBQ List, is the latest stop for Chet Garner, AKA The DayTripper, in the next installment of BBQ Cooler Talks in partnership with Coca-Cola.
Garner made the trek out to West Texas to better understand what makes people drive for hundreds of miles to visit the town of 2,000 just to eat BBQ. Is it just the ‘cue, or does something unique happen when you pass the Pecos river?
According to Khaki and Mark, co-owners of Convenience West, once you pass the river, you’re home. The two grew up in Marfa, and you can regularly find their families mingling with customers at the bbq joint. Those customers include tourists visiting for the Marfa Lights, camping in Big Bend, or (usually) the last stamp for their BBQ Passport.
Garner meets with folks who have traveled from South Texas just for the BBQ, and locals who don’t miss the Friday night dinner. Convenience West is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings, and they have weekly regulars in addition to the out-of-towners. On days when Mark is not running the pits, he’s providing food for school fundraisers, weddings, or local charity events.
When asked why they didn’t open their joint in a bigger market, Khaki and Mark both say the same thing. This is home. They want to be part of the community, whether that’s the bbq community, the Marfa community, or both.
Brett’s Backyard Bar-B-Que
Almost exactly halfway between Longhorn country and Aggie country sits a welcoming pit stop for all kinds. Brett Boren, the owner and pitmaster of Brett’s Backyard Bar-B-Que, likes to say there are 2 million people within 100 square miles, and he doesn’t care what color they wear on game days, he just wants them to have a good time.
Garner found out quickly that it is difficult not to have a good time at Brett’s. From the live music to the local regulars, to the friendly cat named Brisket, this Friday afternoon felt just like a neighborhood backyard barbecue that Brett promises.
In talking with the BBQ fanatics in line, Garner meets with hunters on their annual hog trips, a tourist from Queens, a pitmaster from down the road, and locals who come every weekend. With all of them, there are two constants: the quest for good ‘cue and friendly communities.“You’re not going to find better people anywhere than people who travel for Rodeo or BBQ” says one customer.
These two stops in the series have proven to Garner the BBQ community is unlike any other. Their patience to wait in line for hours, their dedication to travel for days, and their willingness to make strangers friends in minutes is unmatched. Follow along as we continue to uncover what makes these BBQ fanatics tick.
On a bright, crisp sunny day in January, Garner finds himself deep in the heart of BBQ fandom on the outskirts of Ft. Worth at Goldee’s Barbecue.The #1 joint on the Top 50 list, there are people waiting in line even before the sun comes up, so Garner lands a spot at the back of a line of 30 people.
“What makes you wake up this early for BBQ?”
“You drove from Odessa to be here?”
“You do this every weekend?”
These are the questions he asks these BBQ fanatics as they wait in line and drink a cold beverage. Every answer has a common theme: For the love of ‘cue and the community you encounter.
A ways back in the line, Garner runs into the pitmasters’ elementary school principal who is proud of the boys she mentored during their childhood, and when talking to Jalen Heard, one of the founders of Goldee’s, Garner asks him about the community. “Standing in line is part of the experience! We try to make it feel like a party. My mom came once and I told her she better get here early, cause I can’t guarantee you we won’t run out.”
The pitmasters at Goldee’s say they stand in line wherever they go even if they know the other joints. It takes hours overnight to smoke the brisket, why can’t the customers wait a little to enjoy it?