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A Brief History of Texas BBQ

A Brief History of Texas BBQ
Cokers master BBQ chefs at work

Butch Donahower started Coker’s almost 20 years ago in Arlington, Texas. Since then, his little barbecue joint has become a North Texas legend.

While Butch would like to say he invented barbecue, he didn’t. He’s only practicing a culinary tradition with roots older than the Lone Star state itself.

History tells us that the Caddo Indians of East Texas cooked venison and other game over wood fires ten thousand years ago. Then, in the 1600s, Spanish shepherds spit-roasted kid goat and lamb al pastor (shepherd style) on the South Texas plains.

The Southern version of pit barbecue came to Texas in the early 1800s. Whole sheep, goats, pigs and steers were cut into pieces and roasted over oak or hickory coals while being continuously basted. Standard cooking time was 24 hours.

From these humble beginnings, Texans went on to stage civic barbecues, which fed hundreds and sometimes thousands of people at a time.

Beef became the most common meat in Texas only after the end of the Civil War. It became so popular that it displaced pork – the staple of Southern barbecue – as the meat used in outdoor cookouts.

At roughly the same time, German and Czech butchers migrating in large numbers to Central Texas. Among the things they brought with them were European meat smoking techniques. German meat markets sold fresh meats and smoked their leftovers in enclosed smokers, as they had done at home.

During the early 1900s, sanitation regulations changed the way barbecue could be cooked for public consumption. The earthen pits of Southern barbecue were abandoned in favor of enclosed smokers modeled after those used by the German butchers.

And so the old meat markets came to be considered the quintessential Texas barbecue joints – despite the fact that the German smoked meats and sausages they originally produced weren’t really barbecue at all.

We tell you this so that when you taste one of our savory barbecue dishes, you’ll know just what you’re getting into.

So what are you waiting for? Come on in and treat yourself to “the best in the west” today!

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