Jess Pryles

Is Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ the ultimate in fusion cuisine?

Valentina's Tex Mex barbecue, Austin
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Combining two of the best cuisines around, and winning awards for their brisket tacos, Valentina’s BBQ might be the fusion restaurant of your dreams.

Sometimes fusion cuisines are a really good idea. The uniting of Korean food with tacos blew our minds. Bacon combined with nearly any time of dessert is always a magical experience. It was only really a matter of time before someone actively* brought together the beloved Texas of TexMex and Barbecue. As the iconic Old El Paso ad promoting both soft and crispy tacos wisely suggests, “¿porque no los dos?”

Valentina’s have quickly made an impact with a loyal group of hardcore fans, returning again and again to sample the brisket-y delights. The menu is limited, but still encompasses beef, chicken and pork, split into traditional barbecue style or a Tex Mex taco version. It’s not the first place I’d bring people to showcase Texas style barbecue, since the menu is rather different from a traditional joint and missing a few key items like ribs and sausage, but it’s a great alternative for barbecue fans who want to mix it up a little.

As I discovered during my visit to Hays Co BBQ, the flavours of Mex ingredients have a lot of bring to the BBQ table. Green salsa packed with tomatillo, cilantro and chile cut through fatty smoke with a cleansing and fresh aftertaste. Technically, Val’s tomatillo habanero salsa is supposed to come with the pork, but they’re pretty happy to accommodate requests.

And queso! How is queso with barbecue not more of a thing? Evan LeRoy won an entire Queso-off with his smoked brisket queso. At Val’s you can order it as a side, but it’s clear the subliminal message is to pour it all over your brisket taco. Tortillas are proudly made in house and there’s even a veggie taco option (you’ll find it crammed in small font at the corner of the menu, as if in recognition of the shame that comes with visiting a BBQ trailer to order vegetarian food).

Located at the rear of Star Bar, you can also purchase adult beverages to go with your meal if the Topo Chico just isn’t cutting it. The only downside I can see to Val’s is having to deal with the hot mess that is parking near West 6th. I guess the only thing to do is grab an uber and tie one on.

*I use the term ‘actively’ because I’ve no doubt there are plenty of places in Texas that have served barbecue with tortillas for ages. But that’s not exactly the same as a total fusion experience, right?

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By Jess Pryles

Jess Pryles is a full fledged Hardcore Carnivore. She’s a cook, writer, and TV personality specializing in red meat, with penchant for grilling and bourbon. She's also a respected authority on Texas & competition style barbecue. Born in Australia, she now resides in Austin, Texas.

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