Barbeque is the subject of much passion and debate. How does one best smoke meat? How long should it smoke? Mission St. BBQ is the latest barbeque joint in town, but the owners aren’t new to the game.
They’ve been at it about a decade with their other establishments: Aptos Street BBQ, BBQ 152 in Gilroy, Trail Dust BBQ in Morgan Hill, and Salinas City BBQ. We interviewed co-owner Eric Ingram about the latest member of the BBQ family, and their first in Santa Cruz.
GOOD TIMES: BBQ fans really get invested in how the meat is cooked. What can you tell me about your cooking process?
ERIC INGRAM: We have a custom-built smoker. We use Oakwood from here in California. We use our own rubs. We smoke our meats for about 5-6 hours—low and slow for several hours. Depending on the rub, you go hot, sweet or just bold. Or, if you wanted just the meat, you can go salt and pepper. That’s more along the lines of the Texas style. Our whole menu is a pulled from different regions: the Carolina-style pulled pork. The St. Louis-style ribs. And the tri-tip obviously is something that California is known for. The style, as far as the smokers we use, they’re offset stick burners, the most common thing you’d see in Texas, so we lean more towards the Texas style.
What are the differences between your different BBQ restaurants?
The flavor profiles are the same, but each smoker cooks differently. Each cook is going to be a little different. That’s BBQ. Inconsistencies come with the territory. In terms of menu items, we did price it a little lower for the students. We try to be conscious of who our customer base might be. We added sliders, which is new.
In addition to your already big “normal” portions, you serve “large” orders. Just how big is your large?
The larges are almost double what you’re getting with the regulars. The regulars are going to be 6 oz. of meat, the larges will be 10. That’s a big sandwich. We don’t load it up with lettuce or a bunch of other stuff. It’s meat and bread.
Mission St. BBQ is located at 1618 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 458.2222.