Behind the scenes of Monterrey’s first-ever BBQ festival

Marco Torres, Chron Taco columnist, tells Houston’s tale through Mexican food every other Thursday “Tacos y Más.”He will be traveling to Monterrey, Mexico (Mexico) this week.

A few North American cities are considered top-tier, elite taco towns. Houston joins Mexico City, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City in the conversation. Monterrey can be found at the summit of the taco chains, at Nuevo Leon’s Sierra Madres.

Monterrey is an industrial city that boasts a proud history and where many of the continent’s hardest workers live. “Regiomontanos”These people are skilled in entertaining, food, drink, and keeping the party alive. A taquero (or taqueria) can be found on every street of the city, and serves hundreds upon hundreds of tasty tacos per hour. Jovial customers are always available to listen to your jokes. “No Se Va”Grupo Frontera

Monterrey’s first BBQ Festival was a great success.

Marco Torres

So when I heard that the city of Monterrey was hosting its first ever BBQ Festival on Oct. 1, I booked my VivaAerobús flight and made my way down south. On the plane, I met Joseph Quellar (JQ’s Tex-Mex barbecue) and William “Smoking Willie T.”The inaugural festival will be hosted by Tischina, Loro Asian Smokehouse Heights.

After a late flight, we woke up hungry and took a long shuttle to get to the hotel. Quellar, Ant Macias from Dallas, my friend and fellow taco journalist, and Steven Rossler Jr. from Rossler’s Blue Cord Barbecue Harker Heights, joined me for some much-needed breakfast tortillas at a small taqueria nearby the hotel. I ordered a variety of tacos ranging from papa con huevo, asado de puerco, carne deshebrada and chicharrón. A young man was at the counter pressing corn tortillas with freshly prepared masa. These were still warm on the griddle. The guys ordered huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, and a few tacos de picadillo.

Monterrey’s BBQ Festival was in an open space, with the Sierra Madres mountains behind it.

Marco Torres

After breakfast, Quellar visited the festival’s prep kitchen to secure the prepared briskets. Rossler, Macias and Soriana then made a last-minute run to Soriana in search of some final ingredients. Next, we went downtown to buy souvenirs. Rossler bought a plancha from the Mercado Járez in order to prepare the ribeye chile relleno quesadillas. The market is home to El Pipiripau. This famous cabrito restaurant can be found inside. Running around the town and shopping can leave you hungry, so it’s worth stopping in for lunch.

When whole cabritos were cooked on large hot charcoal skewers, it was almost like discovering buried treasure. Two tacos de carbrito plates were ordered, each with one cup of preprepared frijoles and a plate full of paletas, which are lamb chops. It was great with the cabrito’s spicy salsa made with lime juice and salt. Rossler, who had never tried cabrito in this manner before, was very happy with the whole experience. “life changing.”

A whole hog was one of the offerings at Monterrey's BBQ Festival.

Monterrey’s BBQ Festival offered a whole hog.

Marco Torres

Macias had eaten at most a dozen tacos in the entire city before the evening ended. Many options are available, including breakfast tacos and tacos en casa to tacos de trompo. Monterrey is paradise for lovers of tacos.

Many festival pitmasters cooked well into the early hours of the morning. It was a beautiful October day and the event took place in Live Gardens. San Pedro’s surroundings are surrounded by lush green mountains. It blows the air through high-rise office buildings creating an ideal environment for barbecuing.

JQ's Tex-Mex BBQ made brisket on bolillos for Monterrey's BBQ Festival.

JQ’s Tex-Mex BBQ made brisket with bolillos for Monterrey’s BBQ Festival.

Marco Torres

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Behind the scenes of Monterrey’s first-ever BBQ festival

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