Pappa Charlies Barbeque will begin the soft opening of its brick and mortar restaurant in EaDo on Wednesday. Pitmaster Wesley Jurena, who has grown Pappa Charlies from a competition and catering endeavor into a popular trailer that serves to sold-out crowds at Jackson's Watering Hole in Montrose, previewed the space at a private party Saturday night.
The space has a clean, simple look that eschews the neon beer signs that seem to be a staple of barbecue joint design in favor of walls decorated with a mosaic of hand-cut, painted wood pieces. Red brick sections will eventually display works by local artists. Taken from the Pappa Charlies' logo, the Lone Star flag shows up at both the backdrop for a stage in the dining room and as a decorative element along the bar.
Jurena has turned to Houston-based Pitmaker for the two wood-fired, vertical pits that are located under a vent hood in Pappa Charlies' kitchen. He estimates they're capable of producing a couple hundred pounds of meat each, which should hold him for now. The restaurant has room for a larger smoker if demand warrants.
Trial and error
At lunch, Pappa Charlies will serve the standard, Central Texas-style barbecue that earned it a four-star review from Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn: beef brisket, pork ribs, turkey and sausage. Jurena has partnered with high-quality local purveyor 44 Farms for all of his beef, including brisket and tri-tip. Even the kids menu will feature a 44 Farms hot dog.
Dinner is a little more up in the air, and Jurena admits it's going to take some trial and error to figure out what works.
On Saturday, he served some of the dishes he's hoping to feature, including brisket sliders, turkey tacos, a pulled pork sundae (served over mashed potatoes and gravy and topped with coleslaw) and masala-spiced lamb. Recent visitors to the trailer have seen other potential dinner specials, including brisket enchiladas and short rib burnt ends.
The restaurant's TABC license should arrive any day. When it does, Jurena will serve a selection of draft and bottled beer, as well as a carefully selected wine list prepared by Paulie's beverage director Matthew Zaldivar. Reds will be a staple, but Zaldivar has also included a rose and a Riesling for lighter fare like turkey.
While the details make the restaurant sound like a tenuous affair, it would be a mistake to underestimate its prospects. Jurena, a 10-year veteran who served in the Army Rangers, brings a singular discipline to his work. With assistance from his son Jared and assistant pitmaster Jim Buchanan, he's poised to deliver a new dining venue that becomes a lunchtime staple and an intriguing dinner options for area residents and office workers.