One heck of a husband-wife team has been hard at work for a long time now to bring their dream of a brick-and-mortar barbecue joint to life – the result of all this hard work is called Bexar Barbecue and you can find them in Tomball. It was really enjoyable to get to talk for a few minutes with Justin and Kathryn Haecker this past weekend, their first weekend of being open for full service. They began selling barbecue each weekend under a pop-up tent at the Tomball Farmers Market back in 2016 (that’s where I first learned about them not too long ago), while both were still working full time in the oil and gas industry and raising two adorable little boys. All their hard work over many years now, and a few attempts at opening the restaurant, have definitely paid off. Their location is, in my opinion, outstanding. You can find them right out up front near the road on the west side of old 249 just north of Medical Complex Drive, and thus close to pretty much everything in Tomball. They’ve worked really hard to make the place meet their vision – it is open, bright and spacious, but still has a very friendly and comfortable feel to it. There is plenty of space for small or big groups, a semi-private dining area for group get-togethers, etc., and even a turfed outdoor space on the far north side of the building. Kathryn and Justin have some really good and fun ideas for making their new barbecue joint more than just a “lunch service until sellout” kind of place, making it a good place for dinners too, etc. I’m really looking forward to seeing some of their fun ideas come to light over time.
As good as their restaurant design and location is, it is the quality of their smoked meats and fantastic sides (and accompanying service) that is gonna keep people coming back again and again and again. I wanted to try a little bit of everything – but I can only eat so much in one sitting. So I guess I’ll just have to go back again and eat the rest of the menu (and then again and again and again). I’ve had their “Candied Ends” before at the farmers market, so I just got some of those to go — but FWIW, holy cow they are soooo good!!! On this first visit I ordered some moist brisket, sausage and pork ribs, with two sides – what they call “Casa Corn” (more about that in a minute) and their “Southern Slaw” coleslaw. Justin lives by a very important principle in everything he makes – if he doesn’t like it or he wouldn’t eat it, he won’t put it on the menu or serve it to his customers. So that guides his recipes and how he preps and cooks every cut of meat and every side that they serve. There is a great deal of love and detail that goes into everything they do.
- Brisket – I had Justin cut me some moist brisket, with a really healthy amount of bark right off the end. And oh man was it good! He is very aggressive in trimming his briskets (his experience working at a certain chain barbecue joint taught him a whole bunch about good and bad practices in prep’ing and cooking smoked meat). And that doesn’t come cheap – remember these awesome folks pay per pound pre-cooked weight for their meat; and a well-trimmed brisket will lose 50-60% (or more) before it gets sliced and served. The fat was perfectly-rendered. There was a great smoky flavor without being overpowering – the beefy flavor of the meat comes through very nicely. There is a nice-looking smoke ring and the bark is gnarly and delicious. There’s not a thing to complain about with the brisket I was served. It was absolutely outstanding.
- Sausage – Right now Bexar is smoking an absolutely delicious pepper jack sausage that they source from Ruffino Meats out of Bryan. However, as the restaurant gets up on plane, this dynamic duo already has the equipment and the know-how to begin doing their own sausages. The sausage I enjoyed was expertly-smoked. It had just the right snap to the casing and fantastic flavor. I’m really looking forward to the house-made sausages that will be coming from Bexar in the future. Justin is very excited to get there, as he has some very good memories of making sausage with his grandfather growing up on the farm in San Antonio. I can’t wait for their sausage game to begin!
- Pork ribs – The St. Louis style spareribs were excellent as well. The rub, mop and glaze were very nice, with just a hint of sweetness mixed in with the salt-n-peppery rub. They were well-cooked and just at the point of falling off the bone, but without doing so. Awesome stuff all around.
As good as the meats were, I was also very happy with Bexar’s sides. I got the “Casa Corn” and their “Southern Slaw”, which both hit home runs for me.
- Casa Corn – I am a huge fan of corn in almost any configuration. But two styles really get my motor running – creamed corn and Mexican street corn. So when Kathryn described their Casa Corn as a fusion between those two, I knew I had to try it. And I tell ya, it did not disappoint. It was creamy just the way you’d expect a standard creamed corn to be. But it also had the flavors you hope for in a Mexican street corn dish – mayo, Mexican crema, lime juice, chili powder, cayenne and cotija cheese. The combination of these two was just dynamite – or maybe kryptonite for me. I’ll be back for this side dish again and again and again.
- Southern Slaw – Their take on coleslaw is very refreshing and delicious. There is no mayo involved – it is a vinegar-based slaw that eats more like a salad than like a coleslaw. It was light and refreshing. The cabbage had a great crunch and the whole thing had a wonderful taste. It was a great counterbalance to all the protein and fat of the meat.
I’m really looking forward to getting back over there soon. I can’t wait to try their smoked turkey or their ginormous brontosaurus beef plate ribs that are served every day they are open. And of course I’ve gotta try their street tacos out too. Oh yeah – you can get a big ole sandwich piled high with smoked meat if you want as well. And I can already hear the Bexar Beans and the Baked Potato Salad calling my name.
I have a feeling that the combination of the awesome food that this amazing husband-wife team makes and the love and thoughtfulness that they put into everything they do is going to win them a very loyal customer base in short order. They are just beginning this restaurant journey, and they’re already knocking it out of the park. So go visit them now — and then keep on going back again and again as they keep upping their game and introducing new menu items. You won’t be sorry. They are open Fridays and Saturdays starting at 11am until July. For the July Fourth weekend they’ll be open Thursday through Saturday. And after the holiday weekend, they’ll kick off their regular hours – Thursday through Sunday every week. To keep up-to-date, check them out on the social media channels as well – Facebook and Instagram.
*Note – An upcoming post will talk more about the prep and cooking side of things at Bexar…