BREAKING NEWS Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann tested positive for COVID-19 Full Story

Tex Mex barbecue means brisket with guacamole

Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ in Austin, Texas, is fusing the smoked slow cooked flavors of barbecue with Mexican flavors.

Posted: Nov 9, 2018 8:14 AM
Updated: Nov 9, 2018 8:41 AM

Miguel Vidal remembers the moment when he knew what he would serve at his new restaurant, even though it was still a dream.

Vidal grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and has worked in restaurants since he was 15 -- refining his technique and palate, training himself to eventually open his own restaurant.

"I went home, and my dad had made a brisket. My mom had made homemade tortillas," Vidal told CNN Travel.

"We had fresh salsa and avocado, and I'm thinking to myself, this is it," Vidal said.

That's how Valentina's Tex Mex BBQ was born in 2013. Currently two food trailers and four barbecue pits parked on 1.5 acres in South Austin, Vidal is developing plans to turn Valentina's into a brick-and-mortar operation.

Mexican food is Texas food

Combining the best of Mexican cooking -- which often features cooking meats and other ingredients over a grill or open flame -- and barbecue comes naturally to Vidal, a fourth-generation Texan and Mexican American.

"Mexican culture has always been a part of Texas and my family," said Vidal. "I'm really a fourth-generation Texan, and I like grabbing onto the roots of the Mexican heritage because it's what's in our blood."

Vidal said he's "very proud of being Texan" and celebrating his state's barbecue and other food traditions.

Combing the flavors of their cultures is what Texans do "in the back yard," he said. "It's being done in the household, but not necessarily represented in a professional manner in the restaurant industry."

That's just the way his family eats.

"Food was always what brought my family together," he said. "It's a time for us to enjoy each other's company, tell stories about our day, or if we haven't seen extended family in a while, we catch up, and the food is kind of like that glue that would bring us all together."

Vidal has a lot great memories growing up "around a barbecue pit or a fire," eating his grandmother's homemade tortillas and arroz con pollo and menudo at his mother's house.

His parents weren't convinced

College took Vidal to Austin, and soccer took him around the United States before an injury dashed his soccer dreams.

Working in Austin, Vidal had thought about elevating his restaurant concept to a more fine-dining experience, but tasting his dad's brisket that night changed his mind.

His family wasn't convinced at first.

"My parents were really skeptical about what I wanted to do because they felt it was this down-home cooking stuff that we just did at home," and they wondered if everyone was going to respond to it the way Vidal believed they would.

"So Valentina's does traditional Texas barbecue. We use offset pits. We cook fairly low and slow (using mesquite)," he said.

"We cook brisket, pork butts, spare ribs, beef ribs, sausage, chicken. During the fall we cook turkey, but we also take in influences from the Mexican culture, which would be tortillas or fresh salsas, a lot of peppers."

The business is a family affair: Vidal, his wife, Modesty, and his brother, Elias (the head pitmaster), are business partners, but they also have two sisters and three cousins who are key employees.

The menu reflects his roots

The menu is divided into "TEX" and "MEX," but that's really just asking customers if they want bread or tortillas holding the meat.

The sliced brisket and pulled pork sandwiches are both served with tangy slaw and mesquite smoked, house-made barbecue sauce.

The smoked brisket tacos are served with sea salt lime guacamole and tomato serrano salsa, and the smoked carnitas tacos are served with caramelized onions, cilantro and salsa.

Charro beans, Mexican rice, smoked corn and guacamole and chips are side dishes and can be added to any order.

Like many Austin restaurants, Valentina's also serves breakfast burritos, which can include chorizo, refried beans and tomato serrano salsa, all "hecho con amor" (made with love).

Big wigs take notice

"Texas Monthly" barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn, who included Valentina's on his list of the top 50 Texas barbecue joints, credits Vidal with launching a trend in the barbecue world with Tex Mex barbecue.

He loves Valentina's "15-hour mesquite-smoked brisket, lush and moist, (which) is at its best when tucked into one of their heavenly homemade flour tortillas, lightly crisped on the griddle."

Aaron Franklin, whose Franklin Barbecue is legendary for its meats (and its long lines), is also impressed by that 15-hour mesquite smoke.

Franklin has called Valentina's "really about the only place in town other than my own barbecue that I'll actually go eat barbecue at."

"Yeah, that's flipping good," Franklin told Food & Wine.

'Everyone has a chicken and rice dish'

"Whatever you are, when you eat our food, I like to be able to say that there's so much heart and soul that goes into it, that you feel it and it takes you back (to wherever your family is from)," Vidal said.

"Everyone has a chicken and rice dish. Everybody has some sort of bread or tortilla that they use that gets filled with something," he said. "Everybody has a braised meat, and from the beginning of time, the most organic way of cooking was with fire, right?

"When you put these elements together, and you can really do your best to create something that is meaningful to you that you want to share with people, I think everyone can feel that, and it brings everyone together."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31257

Reported Deaths: 1114
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds253640
DeSoto162016
Madison131434
Jones112849
Neshoba99271
Rankin95112
Harrison93311
Lauderdale91079
Forrest87842
Scott77315
Jackson63816
Copiah60715
Washington5919
Leake57819
Holmes55741
Lee55219
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51618
Yazoo5136
Lowndes49413
Leflore49151
Grenada4905
Lincoln46634
Lamar4657
Pike44112
Monroe40330
Sunflower4008
Lafayette3934
Attala36123
Covington3595
Panola3526
Bolivar34014
Newton3399
Simpson3233
Adams31318
Pontotoc2926
Tate28810
Marion28411
Chickasaw27918
Claiborne27910
Noxubee2678
Winston2666
Jasper2636
Pearl River25732
Clay25111
Marshall2343
Smith21811
Union2109
Clarke20724
Walthall2045
Coahoma2016
Kemper17914
Lawrence1782
Yalobusha1737
Carroll16611
Humphreys1509
Tallahatchie1374
Itawamba1368
Montgomery1352
Calhoun1324
Tippah13111
Hancock13013
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1124
Jefferson1083
Prentiss1083
Greene1058
Tunica1053
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George893
Tishomingo831
Quitman780
Choctaw744
Alcorn712
Perry674
Stone651
Franklin452
Benton380
Sharkey380
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 45263

Reported Deaths: 1007
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Few Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 97°
Columbus
Scattered Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 98°
Oxford
Clear
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Starkville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 87°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather