smoked texana rides again

Food hall favorite barbecue joint bringing brisket and fajitas to new Cypress location

Food hall favorite barbecue joint coming soon to Cypress

Burro & Bull parrillada platter
Burro & Bull's parrillada platters allow for combinations like brisket and tortillas with salsa. Courtesy of Burro & Bull
John and Veronica Avila
John and Veronica Avila. Photo by Robert Jacob Lerma
Burro & Bull sausage and boudin
Burro & Bull will serve sausages made at Henderson & Kane. Courtesy of Burro & Bull
Burro & Bull parrillada platter
John and Veronica Avila
Burro & Bull sausage and boudin

A familiar team is bringing smoked Texana to Cypress. Burro & Bull, the barbecue concept that earned acclaim at the Conservatory food hall, is taking over a former Corky’s BBQ on Hwy 290 (25618 Northwest Fwy).

John Avila, who owns both Burro & Bull and Old Sixth Ward general store Henderson & Kane with his wife Veronica, tells CultureMap that the new location is an extension of the partnership he formed with restaurateurs Bruce Gingrich and Andria Cain when he worked with them to open Acadian Coast, the Cajun-Creole restaurant in the Second Ward.

With El Burro & the Bull’s plans to open a restaurant in the East End stalled by the pandemic, the Avilas saw an opportunity to expand their brand in a space that will only need minor renovations. If all goes according to plan, El Burro could open as soon as mid-November.

“We’ve had a good response even from the coming soon sign. We’ve seen activity on El Burro’s social media pages skyrocket,” Avila says. “There’s a sense of anticipation for bringing a craft barbecue place out there that will have a full bar but still be able to serve families well with a drive-thru and a large patio.”

In terms of renovations, the space will keep the indoor/outdoor bar with roll-up doors that are a signature feature of all of Gingrich’s projects. The biggest change will be shifting from full service to counter service; Veronica Avila will use her skills as a trained architect to oversee design changes that will allow customers to watch meat cutters prepare their orders.

Those orders will be grounded in what Avila called smoked Texana, which is his term for a restaurant that unites many of the diverse influences in modern Texas cooking. Expect dishes that draw from Texas’s different regions, including Veronica Avila’s hometown of El Paso.

“We believe we’ve been one of the pioneers of Texas cuisine,” John Avila says. “We believe Texas is regional just like if you went to Italy or France. We believe that smoked Texana offers everything from casual to high end.”

In keeping with that philosophy, Avila and chef de cuisine Jesse Gallegos (Veronica’s brother) will expand the menu from what El Burro served at the Conservatory. Signature items such as brisket tacos and smoked pork tacos will still be available, but they’ll be joined by dishes such as a chile Colorado pork steak and a tomahawk ribeye with winter squash. In addition, the restaurant will serve Henderson & Kane’s full range of housemade sausages.

Even better, El Burro’s parrilladas platters will allow diners to build their own combinations that draw equally from the different traditions. Instead of a two meat plate of brisket and sausage with pickles and onions and slice of white bread that’s typical at traditional barbecue restaurants, diners at El Burro will be able to get fajitas and smoked pork ribs with avocados and flour tortillas (to cite one possible example).

“It’s from my wife moreso, because it’s something they have in El Paso,” Avila says. “We’ve looked around Houston and searched for those kind of things. There was really only a few places.”

In keeping with the Texas-centric approach, El Burro’s bar will serve spirits made in the Lone Star State. Avila notes that Texans make everything from gin and vodka to bourbon and agave spirits, which means the restaurant’s bar should be well stocked.

As for the Harrisburg property that was scheduled to be El Burro’s new home, Avila acknowledges its on the backburner. In addition to opening this concept in Cypress, he hints that Henderson & Kane also has some opportunities to grow with additional locations. Expect more details on those plans in the weeks to come.