A new craft barbecue restaurant is coming to Arlington, courtesy of an up-and-coming North Texas pitmaster who tosses in a Tex-Mex twist.
Called Hurtado Barbecue Co., it will open at 205 E. Front St., in a 2,000 square-foot building originally constructed in 1900. It’ll be a part of the area's bustling Urban Union, a onetime industrial area now the center of redevelopment.
The restaurant will be a brick-and-mortar upgrade for owner and pitmaster Brandon Hurtado, who started out last summer working the pop-up and brewery circuit. Since March, he has worked out of a food truck parked next to Division Brewing in Arlington.
“Arlington feels right for me,” he says. “I could have gone to Fort Worth, where craft barbecue has really taken off. But Arlington makes more sense. There aren’t a lot of craft barbecue options here and people are really loving what we’re doing."
Hurtado’s take on barbecue is different from others. In addition to ‘cue staples such as brisket, pork and beef ribs, and pork belly burnt ends, he offers barbecue items with a Tex Mex spin, such as house-made sausage stuffed with poblano queso fundido; smoked elote; barbacoa tacos; and cole slaw dotted with serrano peppers.
For the new restaurant, Hurtado will offer an expanded menu. “I’d liked to do smoked carnitas and smores out of a firebox,” he says. “I’ve been playing around with some brunch-inspired items like brisket migas. There are a lot of barbecue places around North Texas now, so I want to do some things that no one else is doing.”
To smoke his meats, he’ll use a pair of smokers – a 750-gallon offset smoker he’s had for a while, and a to-be-built 1,000-gallon offset smoker. For wood, he uses a mix of post-oak and pecan.
The restaurant is a passion project for Hurtado, whose love of food and cooking is rooted in his upbringing. “I remember going to my grandparents’ house on weekends,” he says. “There were always beans on the stove or rice going or my grandpa would be cooking a brisket. My grandmother came to the food truck the other day and she liked what she had. To get her approval, that means the world to me.”
His father, too, cooked barbecue. “My dad was always smoking brisket,” he says. “Watching him was the foundation that helped me to get where I am now.”
Hurtado grew up in Irving and graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in public relations. The 31-year-old runs his own marketing firm, called ANKR Agency.
The restaurant will be outfitted with a dog-friendly patio, as well as a stage area for live music. They’ll also sell beer and wine.
Hurtado Barbecue will join several other new restaurants in the mixed-use development, including The Tipsy Oak, Cartel Taco Bar, Sugar Bee Sweet Bakery, and the Legal Draft Beer Company. A new location of Dallas pizza chain Cane Rosso will open in the area next year.