Daniel Madrigal started barbecuing because he loved to cook his favorite food. He didn’t suspect his briskets and ribs would soon be attracting crowds of hundreds to the same Santa Fe Avenue block he grew up on.
“A lot of friends and family mostly asked me to do it,”Madrigal, said. “I wasn’t really planning on doing it full time […] They were pushing me.”
Madrigal’s love for barbecue began in adolescence when his grandfather would cook for him. Madrigal could share his barbecue recipe with a friend when he was an adult.
When his friend moved to Arizona, Madrigal lost his barbecue plug and had to make do—he received out-of-state, over-the-phone brisket coaching as he tried to recreate his favorite recipes.
“One day I called him and I’m like, ‘Hey bro it’s not the same, your barbecue was good.’ [My barbecue] wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t his barbecue,”Madrigal, said. “He’s like, ‘Well, maybe you just got to try something else out because you’re trying to do something that I was doing, maybe something else will work out better for you.’”
Madrigal stopped asking for help from his friend and started to make his own style of barbecue. The trip to Texas with his cousin was a further inspiration.
For meat smoking, it is necessary to place the meat in a smokey area for a prolonged period of time at low temperatures. Smoke from wood gives meat its unique flavor.
“I had a social media post blow up and I had lined people up for three hours, so the city and the police and the health department showed up. They tried shutting us down.”
Daniel Madrigal, owner of Daniel’s Backyard Barbecue
“Once I went out to Texas, it was a whole game changer,”Madrigal, said. “[…] It was a totally different vibe I would say. I started seeing that the smokers were way different out there, they were on trailers and stuff like that.”
Madrigal’s San Antonio-style Texas barbecue uses a simple seasoning of salt and pepper before smoking meats with red oak. After slow smoking, the brisket can be enjoyed for up to 12-14 hours while the beef tenders are smoked for 6-10 hours.
Madrigal explained that customers are often ordering his beef tenders up to 24 hours in advance because they have been so successful.
Madrigal’s personal favorite on the menu is the brisket burrito: a unique combination of his smoked brisket within a breakfast burrito of eggs, sausage and pinto beans.
When he returned to Long Beach, the former smoker in his neighbourhood was still available for him to view. He finally convinced her to let his buy it.
Madrigal’s barbecue quickly became a triumph among friends and family, and they pushed him to open a business. Armed with the support of his loved ones, he spent weekends establishing Daniel’s Backyard BBQ in his childhood stomping grounds surrounded by his neighbors, on the same block where his parents and two of his uncles still live.
At first Daniel’s Backyard BBQ was only open on the weekends. When Madrigal’s family was homebound during the COVID-19 lockdown and his regular construction jobs began slowing down, one of his friends suggested that he start running his barbecue business full-time.
It quickly became a popular pop-up store, and right before the outbreak of pandemics, it was also a highly sought-after business. Hundreds of people would show up to wait in line for Daniel’s Backyard BBQ, which promptly brought City staff down from the Long Beach Health Department.
“It got so hectic,”Madrigal, said. “I had a social media post blow up and I had people lined up for three hours, so the city and the police and the health department showed up. They tried shutting us down.”
Following back-and-forth discussions with the health department, Madrigal was forced to buy a food truck—which he hated.
“I talked to the health department,”Madrigal stated. They believed me. ‘Hey, I’m willing to do anything you guys want me to do, get any permits, whatever you guys want me to do, but I’m not working out of a truck. I just don’t like it.”
Madrigal was granted permission to keep his pop-up store open after a long discussion. His regular customers now include the health workers from his previous reprimands years ago.
Daniel’s Backyard Barbecue is located at 3636 Santa Fe Ave., and open Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to whenever all the barbecue sells out.