The scene: This past weekend, Iron Chef Gauntlet whittled the field from the last three contestants to just one, and while the last woman standing was acclaimed Chicago chef Stephanie Izard, a James Beard Award winner who was the most famous participant this season, the surprise underdog was Texan Jason Dady, who has far less name recognition and breezed through early rounds with poise, confidence and few problems, avoiding bottom place finishes and elimination challenges. While Dady was far from a national household name before the season, he is beloved in San Antonio, where he is one of the most famous chef restaurateurs, with half a dozen concepts ranging from fine dining Northern Italian to a Maine-style oyster bar and lobster shack to an authentic Spanish tapas, wine, and gin and tonic bar. But his largest and most popular spot takes on the best-known cuisine of the Lone Star State, slow smoked barbecue.
The name, Two Bros. BBQ Market, refers to Dady and his business partner, brother Jake Dady, and occupies a large indoor and outdoor compound in North Central San Antonio, near the airport, making it a popular first or last spot for visitors. The inside portion is classic central Texas barbecue: a few casual booths and tables and a counter where you order, with meats hand sliced and sold by weight, though there are also several pre-selected sampler platters available. There is a pickle and hot sauce bar, lots of local beers, and a very laid-back roadhouse feel. The outdoor area is vast, with a children’s playground, sandbox, lots of big picnic tables, the smokehouse as well as several freestanding outdoor smokers, and a gazebo that’s sometimes used to sell beers, giving the place a sort of country fair feel with patrons never far from the sights, sounds and smells of smoking meats. There’s a couple of bocce courts and live music on weekends.
Oddly, in its previous incarnation, the place was a Wizard of Oz-themed Emerald City restaurant. It can hold nearly 300 guests, serves more than 600 on a busy night, and can go through 50 whole briskets in a day. Nonetheless, it moves quickly and there’s rarely a wait longer than 10 minutes, unlike some Texas spots with hours-long lines, something that would not be tolerated in San Antonio. “This is not Austin, you couldn’t get people to stand in line here if you gave away puppies and gold coins,” says Dady.
Two Bros. BBQ makes the Top 50 list of Texas Monthly, the single most influential critical ranking in the barbecue world, and employs one of the few female pitmasters, 28-year-old Laura Loomis, who apprenticed her way into the job and has caused quite a stir in the state’s fervent barbecue community…