BYRON – The Taste of Texas barbecue joint has become so popular among Byron residents that it has had to close several times since it opened in late 2020 because it ran out of beef.
“First come, first serve”, said co-owner Philip Dorian. Once it’s sold out, he added, they close, which could be before 6 p.m., their usual closing hour.
“We sell out just about every day,” Dorian said. “Every day is different and varies....so we try and guesstimate how much to plan for ahead when cooking.”
Taste of Texas Barbecue, located off of Byron Highway at the former location of the Byron Inn Café, offers its patrons a taste of Central Texas barbecue featuring smoked meats, homemade sausages, including a variety of homemade side dishes made from scratch daily, pulled pork, pork spareribs, and handcrafted sausages, which have been made in-house for the past year.
In addition to dine-in, take-out, and outdoor dining, Taste of Texas also offers catering for birthdays, graduations, parties, and corporate events.
“All of our meats are smoked with 100% oakwood,” Dorian said. “We don’t use propane or gas. Our beef brisket is always number one, but don’t sleep on the other meats as they are all great in their own way.”
Other specialties include beef “dino” ribs, with bones weighing a pound or pound and a half each, which are smoked for 10 hours in a salt and pepper rub and served on Saturdays only. Due to its immense popularity, Dorian encourages customers to arrive earlier versus later since they are known to “go fast”.
“After tossing out mountains of trimmings every week, we started to tinker with how to utilize the animal who sacrificed its life for us,” said Dorian of the sausage-making process. “We take our trimmings from the briskets and pork, season it to our liking, and came up with a couple of types; Jalapeño Cheddar (Beef and Pork), and Beef Sausage. Our process to make them, whether it’s one sausage or 500 sausages, takes three days on purpose.”
The barbecue journey of Taste of Texas Barbecue owners, Philip and Amanda Dorian, started like many others – in the backyard. Through many years of work, the Dorians frequented farmers markets and began to develop a following to where they were seeing repeat customers on a regular basis, which would soon grow to them visiting more local farmers markets.
“While living in Walnut Creek, we started offering sampler platters to our neighbors, and that morphed into going to our first farmers market in Orinda,” said Dorian. “After a few Saturdays there seeing repeat customers and selling out, we decided to try another farmers market, and signed up to the Walnut Creek Farmers Market on Sundays. From there, we grew into seven markets a week around the area-Alamo, Walnut Creek, Orinda, Concord (Todo Santos Plaza), Napa, Saratoga, and Mountain House. It was a tremendous amount of work, and basically living at the commissary to cook everything as if it was an approved commercial kitchen.”
After moving to Mountain House and getting familiar with the area, Dorian says they saw the vacant Byron Inn Café collecting dust for six months after the previous tenants moved out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We made the decision to try a brick and mortar, as it had the space needed, and plenty of room for the smoker and so on. If you build it, they will come. We’ve been open since December 2020.”
While there are many different styles of barbecue identifiable by different regions of the country – Kansas City (burnt ends and sweet, thick barbecue sauce), Memphis (smoked pulled pork), The Carolinas (use of pork and a wide array of sauces), West Texas (direct heat over mesquite wood), and East Texas (barbecue sandwiches), Dorian says they are influenced by and put their time into the Central Texas Style, which relies on cooking with 100% wood and dry rub. Dorian says while they make their own barbecue sauce and offer it on the side, they use only rubs on their meats, and do not rely on barbecue sauce for cooking.
“There’s nothing wrong with barbecue sauce on barbecue, but we prefer not to count on it to cook the meats, and let our rub and smoke do the work,” said Dorian. “There is a difference in taste that a gas-assisted smoker just can’t put off. That’s not to say gas-assisted smokers aren’t good. They can surely put off great barbecue, but all wood has that extra kick.”
Many local residents have raved about Taste of Texas, remarking about many of their menu items, quality of their meats, and friendly service, with many referring to it as a “hidden gem” of the region.
“Taste of Texas Barbecue is my go-to spot when I’m having a craving for really good smoked meat,” said Antioch resident Thomas Virden. “I would advise going early on a Saturday because they sell out of the barbecue beef ribs fast, and they are delicious. I would suggest trying the sampler, which includes brisket, spareribs, and sausage. It is worth the drive if you want some authentic Texas-smoked meats.”
Oakley residents Jimmy and Maria Ferrer say Taste of Texas Barbecue is their family’s first request for family get-togethers locally or for events in South San Francisco since discovering the place in January 2021, a month after their opening.
“Philip advertised on Facebook, and we decided to try a new place,” said Ferrer. “I am so glad we did because we have been going back ever since! Our favorite is the brisket. It’s so tender, and the taste is amazing! Beef and pork ribs are also great.”
While locally famous for their wide array of smoked meats, handcrafted sausages, and freshly made side dishes, Dorian had an emphatic response to what he would recommend to a first-timer at Taste of Texas Barbecue..
“Barbecue burrito!” he exclaimed. “It has our beef brisket, choice of sausage, ranchero beans, and mac and cheese. This way, you’ll get a bit of what we have to offer in every bite!”
“Barbecue in itself is a tremendous amount of work, and respect to all who take on the daily challenge,” he added. “We believe keeping our hands on the whole process from beginning, while trimming, seasoning the meats, up until slicing at the cutting board right in front of you, is key. Every piece of meat is different, how we season, picking the right piece of wood during the cooking process makes a difference, temperature fluctuations, the outdoor weather and elements all play a role on how every cook goes. We strive to be as consistent as possible on every cook, yet we learn every day as well.”
Hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. (with the exception of Sundays, when they close at 4 p.m.), or until they are sold out. Further information, including menu, catering information, and hours of operation, can be found at the following link. https://totbarbecue.com/
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