Texas barbecue has changed a lot in the last two decades, much for the better. Pitmasters started learning the science behind the craft and investing in better ingredients, resulting in a more consistently delicious product. In turn, they have attracted millions of hungry tourists and started a virtuous cycle that continues to this day to improve the overall quality of BBQ in the state.
“We stay relevant by not changing,” said Bryan Bracewell, owner of Southside Market & BBQ at the flagship location in Elgin, TX. “We’re in the people business, and we honor the legacy of what this business has been for 140 years. We use quality ingredients, keep the recipes simple, and take our time cooking them.”
Great BBQ doesn’t have to be complicated, and Southside proves that point. Fans of the traditional Texas Trinity will be hard pressed to find a tastier, more authentic 3-meat plate of Sausage, Brisket, Ribs than you can find at any one of Southside’s four locations. Post Oak is the only thing fueling the fires and most of the recipes come from the Bracewell family that has owned and operated the business for three generations since 1968. As Bryan explained, “BBQ is food that connects the community. It’s how Texans celebrate special occasions, and what brings them together during tough times. We view it as part of our responsibility and legacy to serve the community classic Texas BBQ, not strive to be sexy for the food critics.”
You might guess that Bracewell, with his traditional approach, would resist some of the trends that have helped to elevate Texas BBQ lately, but the opposite is true. He has been directly engaged in fostering the community of professional pitmasters through his involvement with the Texas A&M Camp Brisket and Barbecue Summer Camp and AgriLife program. He’s led the expansion of his family’s business in recent years, and despite some understandable apprehension within the team, Southside recently changed suppliers on one of the most important menu items in search of better quality and consistency: their beef brisket.
Bryan and his team of pitmasters at the four Southside locations—Hilario Urquiza in Elgin, Josh Johnson in Bastrop, Roman Medlock in Hutto, and Izzy Garcia in Austin—began the process of evaluating their brisket options methodically with a blind taste test of 26 different products. When they had identified the one that stood out above the rest, they got an unexpected bonus: the Goodstock Angus USDA Choice brisket comes from another Texas legend: the company’s founder, Nolan Ryan.
Change doesn’t happen quickly or easily, though, and some on the Southside team were skeptical to entrust one of their best-selling items to a new product. But four months after switching, they now see it as one of the savviest moves for the business that they have made in years. Beyond the consistent quality, dedicated customer service, and dollars and cents, the biggest reason they are all believers now? “The smiles on people’s faces tell me we made the right decision,” said Bracewell.
Ultimately, Southside Market & Barbeque is about more than just carrying the banner of Central Texas BBQ. Bryan and Rachel Bracewell are committed to the having a positive impact on the communities where they operate. From supporting worthy causes to fostering the growth of the more than 200 people who work for the business, the legacy of Southside and the Bracewell family will be much more than just delicious food.
Visit Southside Market & BBQ at one of its four locations:
- ELGIN: 1212 US-290, Elgin, TX 78621
- BASTROP: 534 State Hwy 71, Bastrop, TX 78602
- AUSTIN AT ARBOR WALK: 10515 N. Mopac Expressway, Suite B225, Austin, TX 78759
- HUTTO: 106 Co-Op Blvd. Hutto, TX 78634