Opened in 1962, the San Antonio institution is the sort of no-frills place with white tile floors and laminate tables, where everyone--from locals to visiting politicians--comes for good, honest, authentic Tex-Mex food.
These days, the place is known for its brisket, and John's brother Andrew is the brisket man. Most nights, he makes 20 of them at a time, smoking them in the restaurant's three giant pits for 13 to 16 hours--or, as Andrew says, "until they're done." He uses little more than a rub, oak wood and apple juice to give the meat subtle smoke and spice. It's so good, it doesn't need barbecue sauce, which John says "is used to hide bad meat."
"You get the right balance of brisket and smoke, and you really taste the meat," says John. "There's nothing else like it."