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Louisiana Is Embracing Barbecue Beyond Boudin

Gonzo’s Smokehouse & BBQ

Opened: 2016Method: White oak and pecan in an offset smokerHours: Thursday 11:30–3 (burgers and tacos only), Friday 11:30–3 (barbecue menu)Must-order: Smoked pork jowl

Jason Gonzalez lives in Gonzales and runs a barbecue joint in Luling, so it’s understandable if you think I’m talking about a Texan. But this Luling is in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, just upriver from New Orleans on the west bank of the mighty Mississippi, though a grass-covered levee blocks the view of the water from the Gonzo’s Smokehouse parking lot. Inside the pit room, Gonzalez stokes the fireboxes of a couple trailer-mounted Mill Scale smokers. He used a majority of his severance check from an oil and gas job to purchase them for his pop-ups in 2016. In 2019, Gonzales went all in on barbecue and moved into his current location, which opened in early 2020.

Gonzo’s is open only two days a week, only of one them for barbecue. Thursdays are just for burgers, so the demand for smoked meat on Fridays creates long lines. It’s a shame that Louisiana’s best barbecue is so scarce. Get there early if you want to try a variety, and start with the smoked pork jowls. Some bites are primarily fat, but it’s glorious fat with a texture that’s a little firmer than that of custard. The richness barely lets up with the brisket burnt ends coated in a cherry cola sauce, or with the cubes of smoky beef belly topped with a sweet, sticky soy glaze.

The sliced brisket is glossy with fat, and it has a stout black bark that carries plenty of smoke and spice from black pepper. Chunks of brisket appear in Gonzales’s Texified smoked boudin, and the pitmaster’s creativity shows in rotating sausage flavors like jerk chicken. A full tray here is an onslaught of bold flavors, so use the pickled cucumbers, jalapeños, onions, and pineapple as palate cleansers between each impressive bite. 12325 River Road, Luling, Louisiana.

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