LaVaca BBQ is a newcomer to Crossroads barbecue, but after a year of success, they are already expanding.
Texas Monthly, a publication with a thorough history of barbecue reviews, selected the Port Lavaca restaurant, 532 N. Virginia St., for their list of favorite barbecue bites in 2020.
The owners are planning to open a second location in Bay City in late February.
Combining a Central Texas style with their Mexican heritage, Lupe, Christine and Kelli Nevarez smoke brisket, homemade sausage and tamales as a few of their menu’s highlights. As of now, Lupe Nevarez said he doesn’t know of anyone else that wraps an entire brisket tamale in butcher paper and then smokes it.
The unique menu item is something he said is his family’s way of “giving back to the Texas barbecue culture.”
Lupe’s wife, Christine Nevarez, said growing up in Vanderbilt, her family would smoke tamales when she was a kid.
The couple now has the unique barbecue item on their menu alongside brisket that Lupe Nevarez said he takes from recipes he found from Central Texas barbecue joints — a style he said is based in salt and pepper with a vinegar-based sauce.
“You don’t have to drive all the way to Austin,” he said. “It’s right here in your backyard.”
From their home about 10 miles outside Palacios, Christine Nevarez has worked as a teacher and Lupe Nevarez has worked as a mechanical designer at the OQ chemicals plant near Wadsworth. Their daughter and third co-owner, Kelli Nevarez, has worked as a teacher.
They chose to open the second location in Bay City because their Palacios home would be in between the two. One of the family members can work the Port Lavaca location while another works the one in Bay City.
There is not a set date yet for opening the second location, 1921 Sycamore Ave., Bay City, but the Nevarezes plan to open at the end of February.
After selling 20,084 pounds of brisket in 2020 despite only being open 18 hours a week, the Nevarez family want to be the best.
They credit some of that success to prime beef.
While meat processors and sellers nationwide struggled to procure meat and other products in 2020, the Nevarez family found an opportunity to buy higher quality beef because their distributor ran out of their usual beef selection.
Despite the higher cost, Nevarez said he looked at his wife and said “Well, let’s do it.”
As shortages have normalized, LaVaca BBQ has stuck with higher quality beef.
Some of those prime beef trimmings now go into their signature tamales as well as other items like gumbo made with beef.
“We want to make sure everything is perfect,” Christine Nevarez said. “And it helps to have a good product, a quality product. Then, you get quality customers coming through the door.”