June 22, 2010


 Former professional poker player Tony Alvarez started his Smokilicious BBQ trailer on a whim in February of 2010.  In Tony’s words, “I’ve always had a passion for cooking, and being from Texas, I have a passion for BBQ.  When I left Texas in 2003 for Reno, I was not finding the BBQ I was accustomed to and used to and what I thought was the best.  When I came back home to visit, I would get my fill of BBQ and good Tex Mex food before heading back.”  Tony comes by his culinary expertise honestly, having worked in kitchens and bars for about 18 years both in private restaurants and corporate chains.  After noting the trailer food culture was taking off, he decided that Austin was the perfect place to try his hand at perfecting his BBQ recipes before trying to launch his product and business.  So he built a trailer and put all his passion into it.

The smoked brisket is his favorite item to cook and to eat.  In addition to brisket being his art and his challenge, it’s his best-seller.  Tony explains, “It’s on our breakfast and lunch menu and outsells every item 2:1.  When I first started with the trailer, I was only going to do lunch and I was getting there early to start smoking meat (8-12 hours).  I would get there early and have people come up and say ‘it smells good’ – and ask if I had breakfast tacos.” So Tony’s breakfast menu was born.  He started with the traditional bacon, egg and cheese tacos but the people wanted brisket.  It’s hard to choose a traditional taco when you smell Tony’s brisket.  The popular thing to do is to replace brisket as the breakfast meat in the taco at Smokilicious. 

A third generation Austinite, Tony tries to buy everything as local as possible.  If he has to buy from a grocer, he buy’s from our Austin-owned-and-operated grocery store (City Market).  He buys ‘Smoky Denmark’ sausage that is made here in town, and he Moonlight Bakery on South Lamar for all of his rolls on his sliders.  Even his drinks are local with Hill Country water, Teas of Texas, and Ruta Maya coffee. Tony says, “If I can get an item that is local that is what ill use; we try to recycle and do everything we can to be green and stay local.”
BBQ was always big in his family.  He learned most of his cooking from his dad and uncles.  “From the very beginning I was interested in the cooking aspect.  What it used to taste like is what I shoot for now.  I know I got it right when it tastes like something I grew up with,” Tony says.  “Im learning so much even though ive been doing it for awhile – its something I continue to learn – its not like a job to me, I enjoy it and ‘get’ to do it.”  The trailer allows him to stay involved in the food industry while also giving him the flexibility to travel.  Tony still travels back to Vegas and Reno to put on his poker face, but since business has picked up he’s playing more on border towns in Texas and online gaming.