A line starts forming around 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays with those who want a first crack at fresh Tex-Mex barbecue off the Hurtado food truck.
Since March, the trailer has rolled up outside Division Brewing in Arlington. But owner Brandon Hurtado, 31, says the North Texas craft barbecue business is as hot as high noon, so he’ll soon be moving indoors nearby to a former biker bar located at 205 E. Front St.
Hurtado, who grew up in Irving, graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and also owns a marketing company. He and some friends had been doing barbecue pop-ups at breweries around Fort Worth and Denton. Last year, he set up at Division Brewing.
“That’s how I got plugged into it,” he says. “That seems to be, like, the trend of what up-and-coming entrepreneurs do. Barbecue just kind of sucks you in and doesn’t let go. Every weekend, we’re out there.”
While selling at Division, word spread about Hurtado’s barbecue, and he bought the food truck.
“Every weekend is absolutely insane,” he says. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s kind of like people want what they can’t have. And if you don’t get there early, there’s this chance that you’re not going to get your shot at trying this great food.”
The robust menu consists of beef ribs, brisket (lean or moist), pork spare ribs, pork belly burnt ends and handmade sausage. There’s also semi-boneless, smoked Texas quail seasoned and marinated in garlic butter. Hurtado makes his own salsa verde and barbecue sauce (which isn’t needed) and offers two varieties of cupcakes, too.
Sides include smoked elotes, spicy charro beans made from his grandmother’s recipe, Hatch chile mac and cheese, and a vinegar-based serrano coleslaw.
“It is definitely a spicy coleslaw," says Aaron Chavez.
Branding himself a barbecue enthusiast, Chavez goes around to pop-ups sampling different flavors from the booming local craft barbecue scene. He’s eaten Hurtado’s barbecue several times and likes “the Tex-Mex flair with tortillas as opposed to white bread,” he says. This weekend, he was after the $25 El Jefe platter.
“Honestly, I think it’s the best barbecue bang for your buck in the area,” he says. “You get a lot of meat and it’s definitely worth, you know, the expense. It’s easily split-able.”
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The El Jefe comes with a quail and a quarter-pound of each meat, except beef ribs, plus a side.
”People get that because they want to try a bit of everything,” Hurtado says.
The food truck’s staff starts serving at 11 a.m., and as long as people show up before 3 p.m. on Saturday, they can generally still get food, Hurtado says. On Fridays, the truck serves burgers starting at 5 p.m. while they last. The barbecue is sold, and having local craft beer at hand doesn’t hurt either.
“They’re almost like a small biz incubator,” he says of Division Brewing. “It pairs really well with what we do.”