2019 has been a great year for Backroads and BBQ! We visited so many interesting places and made so many new friends.

We started our journey in Georgetown Texas at 309 Coffee Company with cousin Jack Crouch. John shared his crazy caffeine order that he tests any new coffee place. There, we met Garrett Hill, chief barista at 309 Coffee and also owner of Apothecary Coffee Company, a local coffee roaster that supplies 309 Coffee. We got to visit Garrett’s roastery and learn about the exacting methods of roasting coffee to specific standards.

We got to skip the line and get a behind-the-scenes tour of Franklin’s BBQ. Having Aaron Franklin make our morning espresso shot was a huge honor and his turkey was the best smoked turkey we had during the tour.

One of the hugest highlights of the tour was giving flowers to the legendary pitmaster Ms. Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas. Her pork steak is the thing dreams are made of and making her smile with flowers was a true highlight.

One of my favorite stops along our way was to visit the production facility of Bloody Buddy, the first vodka-based, ready-to-drink bloody mary in the world. Learning about their background, how they infuse their vodka with hot chiles, and signing their ceiling was what I hope will be the beginning of a long friendship.

Our 2-hour chance encounter with legendary pitmaster Roy Perez of Kreuz Market was truly a once in a lifetime experience. His wisdom and longevity is so impressive. I cannot wait to go back and visit him again someday soon.

Having a Shiner beer with Dustin Lauw, owner of Duck’s Heritage Boot Company, was a lesson in philosophy. Who knew there could be such an ethereal nature to making boots? But we were impressed with the care and precision that Dustin puts into every pair of handmade boots that he makes.

In Dallas, we went with Chef Tom Fleming to visit Slow Bone BBQ. Little did we know that Chef Tom could have a career in stand-up comedy! Slow Bone did not disappoint either. Not traditional barbecue-fare — their fried chicken was divine. And cleaning the ribs just wasn’t enough — I wanted to treat those bones like toothpicks. MMMMMmmmmmm!

Lastly, the Smoked BBQ Festival was in Dallas this Fall and we got to sample the best of the best of the barbecue available in all of Texas. You should really plan to go to next year’s festival.

We have so many more adventures in store for 2020. We get to see behind-the-scenes at the BBQ stand at Luckenbach, Texas. We meet the head of research and development for Deep Eddy’s Vodka. We had beer with the Dark Prince of Texas Barbecue, John Mueller, grandson of famed Louie Mueller BBQ of Taylor. Nate Funmaker fitted a cowboy hat just for my head. And Texana Foods gave us a tour of their production facility.

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Written by Chef John O'Neil

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