On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," CultureMap's weekly restaurant podcast, Truth Barbeque owner Leonard Botello IV joins food editor Eric Sandler to discuss the journey that led his Brenham restaurant to be named the tenth best barbecue joint in the state by Texas Monthly.
During the conversation, Botello discusses his family's roots in the restaurant business and the transition he made from a biology major at Texas A&M to one of the fastest rising stars in Texas barbecue.
Sandler and Botello also dive into the upcoming Houston location of Truth, including the decision to open on Washington Avenue and how Botello formed a partnership with legendary Houston restaurateur Johnny Carrabba. Botello also discusses the effect that barbecue blogger Bryan Norton and social media had on helping to get the word out about Truth.
"I like to give Bryan a lot of credit because he was the guy that kind of gave us the chance ... I owe a lot to him because people started filtering in after he came in there," Botello says.
"Social media is a huge thing. We didn't do any kind of advertisement — because we were so small, we spent most of our money trying to bring in the best meats — (we relied on) Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you name it, just trying to get our name out there. If you look at our plates, they all look exactly alike. (We used) color coordination, trying to make it pretty. It's free advertisement," he adds.
Prior to Botello joining the show, Urban Swank bloggers Shanna Jones and Felice Sloan joined Sandler to discuss the news of the week. The topics center on Hurricane Harvey; specifically, the way Houston's restaurant community helped respond to the storm, what the industry is doing to assist with recovery efforts, and how diners can do their part by, for example, patronizing restaurants participating in Houston Restaurant Weeks, extended through September.
In the Restaurant of the Week segment, the trio highlight some of their favorite Harvey-related dining deals: Sloan selects the Hurricane Harvey Wallbanger cocktail — at Anvil and at other bars; Jones chooses Picos Restaurant, which is donating $5 from every order of fajitas for two to the Red Cross; and Sandler picks Kenny & Ziggy's, which is donating 5 percent of all proceeds, including catering orders, to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.