Smoked brisket boudin, pork belly, homemade sausages and other Central Texas Style BBQ is being crafted in St. Charles Parish at Gonzo’s Smokehouse & BBQ – but that’s no secret.
“We open at 11:30 and they started lining up around 10:30,” Gonzo’s owner and operator Jason Gonzalez said of his bevy of faithful patrons. “I’m happy where I’m at right now. It’s been a really good year.”
The smokehouse is located at 12325 River Road in Luling.
“I always enjoyed cooking,” Gonzalez said. “My grandma was really awesome in the kitchen. I kind of learned from her and just naturally gravitated to BBQ.”
Gonzales said that it was actually the worst of circumstances – being laid off from the oil field industry in a massive downsizing effort – that prompted him to start selling the food he loved to create.
“Once that happened it was a big eye opener,” he said of the layoff. “I thought I had security. I was BBQing a little before that, but when I got my severance check I invested it into a really good smoker and started investing time into to. Like three-fourths of that check went into a smoker. That’s when I knew this wasn’t going to just be a hobby in the backyard.”
After finding success in catering gigs and at farmers’ markets and pop-ups, Gonzales said he knew he needed to take the next steps to grow his business.
“The smokers kept getting bigger,” he said laughing.
Gonzales opened Gonzo’s in December of 2019, adding that the St. Charles Parish location of the business made sense since he was already fulfilling weekly catering orders with local industry leaders including Dow and Entergy.
“We already had our foot in the door with the big plants in the area, and the rent here is good,” he said.
Gonzo’s is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. or sellout. The smokehouse offers smash burgers on Thursday and BBQ on Friday. Preorders, which start on Sunday and usually end on Tuesday, are taken online at https://gonzosmokehouse.square.site/. The shop also offers food that can be brought and prepared at home.
Gonzales said he tries to get the preorders out between 10 and 11:30 a.m. before he open ups the doors to the public. And while many people have asked him to open up on other days, Gonzales said the preparation for the large crowds on Thursday and Friday and the labor intensive process of creating his smokehouse’s offerings keep him – and his dad – busy all week.
“I don’t want to get too big and start losing the consistency of the food,” he said. “When people come in here, I want them to come in here and get some really good food.”
Word about that really good food has spread, and having people drive in from out of town for it is always surprising to Gonzales, he said.
“If it wasn’t for social media we wouldn’t be as success as we’ve been,” he said. “We have a really big following on Instagram and Facebook.”
Stoking the success of the restaurant was a November 2020 review by food critic Ian McNulty.
“He came out here and sat down and did an article on us,” Gonzales said. “That went live two weeks later and after that it’s kind of been taking off … we haven’t had a slow day since that article.”
Gonzales took a few seconds to think when asked when he knows he’ll reach the pinnacle of success he was striving for in opening Gonzo’s.
“I feel like I’m there now,” he said. “Back in 2016 when I just started I didn’t really have a plan. I didn’t think it would get this big … it was more of a hobby and an outlet to show what I could do. It just kept getting bigger and bigger.”