Houston-born Eaker Barbecue moves to Fredericksburg
Boo Eaker had never lived in a small town. Her husband, Lance, grew up in the small south Texas town of Uvalde, but they met in San Antonio and eventually moved to Houston, got married and started a family.
I met Lance and Boo in 2018 when I wrote about their newly-opened Houston food truck. Though the truck was successful, it was hard work. Fast forward to early 2020 when I visited the truck in the parking lot of an office building in Montrose. It was a hot day and they were fighting with the truck’s flat top griddle, trying to get it to light. Just one of many nuisances of running a mobile food business.
As I stood outside the order window, Boo came out and to take a break and get some air.
“I’m giving Lance a year,” she said. “Either we’re in a brick-and-mortar location by then, or we go back to our day jobs.”
The clock was ticking.
Then, of course, the pandemic hit. It was a blessing and a curse to own a food truck. There was no dining room to close. They operated outside, and were set up for to-go orders. Still, the grind of running a food truck never got any easier.
They began looking for a permanent location in Houston, touring several existing barbecue joints that were available to lease or buy. But even during a pandemic, the costs to acquire and renovate a restaurant were prohibitive for a couple self-financing their small business.
Then I got a call from Lance.
“If you were moving to a small town in Texas to open a barbecue joint, where would you go?” he asked.
This is a hot topic among barbecue fans. We want a great smoked-meat emporium in every Texas town, big or small. Whether on a business trip or a family vacation, we need our fix.
One place that is often mentioned for lacking in exceptional barbecue is Fredericksburg. This Hill Country town is mainly known for antique shops and, more recently, palatial wineries and vineyards. So “Fredericksburg” was the first name out of my mouth.
Soon Lance and Boo were making scouting trips to the Hill Country. Though Boo wasn’t entirely sold by the small-town lifestyle, she noted that the people in Fredericksburg were friendly and the schools seemed like a good fit for their two young sons.
Things happened fast. They sold their home in Houston just as the housing market took off, convinced a local property owner in Fredericksburg to lease them a property that was otherwise only for sale, and got lucky when a slot opened up at a barbecue pit maker to have a custom 1,000-gallon offset smoker built in record time.
The new, small-town version of Eaker Barbecue, and the Eaker family, commenced in June when they opened the doors of their new brick-and-mortar joint on Main Street in Fredericksburg.
To be sure, there’s nothing small about the flavors in Lance’s mesquite-smoked brisket or the Asian-influenced side dishes inspired Boo’s Korean-American upbringing.
On a recent visit, the brisket was perfectly cooked with a salt-and-pepper rub and a spicy taste imparted by the mesquite wood. Boo’s Korean cucumber salad features a light coat of fish sauce and a dusting of toasted sesame seeds. They collaborate on one of the most popular dishes here: Lance smoked, meaty pork ribs that Boo slathers with a spicy Korean gochujang sauce.
Antiques, wine and barbecue. That’s a great combination for a weekend trip to Fredericksburg.