On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Wesley Jurena joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Pappa Charlies Barbeque, his barbecue joint that relocated from a space in EaDo to being part of Cypress Trail Hideout, a bar and restaurant that opened earlier this year. Jurena begins by explaining how an interest in making barbecue during his service as an Army Ranger eventually led him to the competition circuit and, eventually, a food trailer. CultureMap first profiled Pappa Charlies in 2014 when Jurena had established a solid reputation for his cooking.
While Jurena received some accolades for his cooking from the mainstream food media, he's fallen a bit off the radar. Sandler asks if he misses being in the spotlight.
"Obviously, I'm competitive. I'd like to sit at the cool kids' table again. But at the end of the day, there's a lot of restaurateurs in this city that have never been sitting at the cool kids' table," Jurena says. After noting that the quality of the barbecue has improved now that he's used to the increased demand at Cypress Trail Station, he adds, "Again, I'm at a different place. I can say that I was there and I did it. Obviously, you'd like to have consistency. You'd like to have that buzz and be on those lists every year. If I'm not, the cash register's ringing. We're making money. . . Whatever happens, Eric, I'm ok."
Prior to Jurena joining the show, Sandler and co-host Matt Harris discuss the news of the week. Their topics include Chronicle critic Alison Cook's list of Houston's top 100 restaurants, Tenfold Coffee's plans to open a new roastery and cafe in the Heights, and a recap of some of their favorite bites from Southern Smoke. In the restaurants of the week segment, the duo rave about their experience at Kitchen 713, where chefs James Haywood and Ross Coleman recently introduced a four-course menu inspired by the flavors of West Africa.
In addition, they discuss their separate experiences trying the new omakase menu at Aqui. The Montrose restaurant recently hired former Uchi sushi chef Yoshi Katsuyama, who along with chef-owner Paul Qui and chef de cuisine Jillian Bartolome, leads diners on a 18-plus course tasting menu with beverage pairings chosen by bar manager Leslie Ross Krockenberger.