Former Barbecue Pop-Up Opens Lockhart Brick-and-Mortar

Barbs B Q expands their range

Lime zest-topped pork ribs and brisket with Barbs' signature green spaghetti (photos by Jay-Alan Baltierra)

On January 5, 2023, a former ice cream parlor in Lockhart got a new lease on life. That's when Barbs B Q co-owners Chuck Charnichart, Alexis Tovias, and Haley Conlin officially announced they'd be moving their barbecue pop-up into the empty brick-and-mortar space.

I first heard about Barbs B Q through our own Lockhart correspondent, Marketing & Engagement Manager Cassie Arredondo. She invited me to come cover Barbs B Q's grand opening on May 27, so I set my alarm clock for 9am and proceeded to sleep through that alarm. Twice. I arrived in Lockhart at 10:38am, about eight minutes shy of Mayor Lew White cutting the ribbon for the new restaurant. Lucky for my late-sleeping self, Cassie, her boyfriend Landon, and a cadre of their friends had gotten there early enough to secure a prime spot in what already looked like an endless line.

According to Cassie, this sort of procession doesn't really happen a lot in Lockhart. One reason for the line, I suspect, is the singular day of Barbs B Q's operational schedule: Saturday. I reached out to the three co-owners about the one-day-a-week schedule. "By focusing on a single day of operation," they answered, having written their responses by committee, "our team can devote significant time and effort to prepare and present the best barbecue possible ... It's mainly just us three owners working and we want to have lives outside of barbecue as well and not get burnt out."

The Barbs and Lockhart Mayor Lew White cut the ribbon to Barbs B Q

Opening time on Saturday hit at 11am sharp. Inside the diminutive building was an outsized amount of decorative flair. Most of the remodeling of the space was done by Charnichart, Tovias, and Conlin themselves, with furnishings ranging from vintage cookie jars to framed family recipes. "We wanted not only the food, but the space to reflect who we are," they said. Among all those kitschy knickknacks was a familiar blue, spiny mammal: Sonic the Hedgehog. He sat atop the drinks fridge tucked in by the utensils; his likeness hung above the dining tables as a pendulous piñata; and he dotted their gallery wall in a child's drawing, a framed meme, and on a retro game cartridge. Much like the famous hedgehog, the line to the counter did go fast.

The menu offers brisket, pork ribs, turkey, lamb chops, and beef ribs, priced by the half-pound. Sides come in three sizes and three options: green spaghetti, slaw, and charro beans. Several baked goods are offered as additions: a homemade spelt bread swirled with cinnamon, corn tortillas provided by Nixta Taqueria, and a dessert of concha bread pudding.

I ordered turkey and brisket, which required them to slice into a new slab. In a very generous and tasty move, the burnt ends were offered gratis to those in line. One taste was all it took to win me over. Fat so tender it melted in my mouth called to mind an almost dairylike creaminess, with Barbs' zingy seasoning cutting the richness. The turkey, a favorite of Conlin that she calls "kind of the underdog," can only be described as a word I hate using: succulent. It paired well with a slice of the spelt bread, also a Conlin special, and one of the complimentary pickled onion ribbons that came on my tray.

Cassie and Landon had ordered the beef ribs – the personal choice favorite of Tovias, who said she combines the off-bone meat with a tortilla and salsa. They sang the ribs' praises, as well as complimented the tanginess of the green spaghetti – what Charnichart considers Barbs' signature dish – and the cool crunch of their slaw. My side choice – the charro beans – were good while hot, studded with sausage that boosted the beans' meaty flavor.

After we ate, Cassie and I took a walk around the Lockhart town square, where she showed me all the places where culture grows in the city. The walk helped settle my previous meat feast and also showed just how well Charnichart, Tovias, and Conlin chose when planting the Barbs B Q flag in Lockhart. Not only does the city have a storied barbecue landscape that their business can flourish in, but all three co-owners speak to Lockhart's strong small-business community. "[With] their help and support," the three Barbs said, "we were able to find the perfect space for us."

Barbs B Q

102 E. Market St., Lockhart
Saturday, 11am-3pm

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Barbs B Q, Lockhart barbecue, Chuck Charnichart, Alexis Tovias, Haley Conlin

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