Texas Beef & Cattle Co. prides itself on a mesquite-barbecue experience.
By Ginny McCabe
Located minutes off Interstate 75, in Dayton’s Wright Dunbar Historic District, the restaurant officially opened its doors on July 2, 2016, at 1101 W. Third St.
Inside the restaurant is defined by a rustic yet warm atmosphere with décor that captures its southern charm—from 1980s country music in the background to those that represent Texas.
I visited on a Sunday afternoon with my mom and the owner and pit master James Nunez greeted us immediately. Nunez and his partner, Erin Belangia-Sanchez, and their staff of 14 bring a sense of pride to the family-owned and operated co-op style barbecue establishment.
Nunez’s identical twin daughters, Jessica and Rachel, 21, attend college at Wright State University, but they also work at the restaurant when they are not attending classes. Even if it’s busy you’re seated right away and the staff goes out of its way to make sure you have a memorable experience.
Whether you choose inside dining or outdoor patio seating it won’t take long to feel relaxed and at home. Carryout proves to be popular, too, based on the number of guests going in and out in the span of an hour or two. Free parking is available in front and in the rear of the building. And it’s a bonus that you can smell the food from blocks away.
With a handcrafted, tasty mix of spice rubs and meats that are smoked on site in a smoke shack that was designed and built by Nunez, Texas Beef & Cattle Co. offers mesquite-smoked beef brisket as its signature meat.
The restaurant also specializes in serving pulled pork and chicken, baby back and St. Louis-cut ribs and Texas V&V smoked sausage. Homemade sides that incorporate family recipes include his mom’s Texas ’Tater Salad, Tex-Mex Rice, Cole Slaw, Five Cheese Mac and Borracho Beans. Additionally, it offers bison brisket and features organic produce.
Affordably priced menu options include sandwiches, plates with two 4-ounce sides and by-the-pound. Dinner sandwiches start at $10. Small sides are $3 and large sides are $5. The beef brisket is smoked for 12 hours and cooked for six hours.
During my visit I had the beef brisket, along with cole slaw, Texas ’Tater Salad and Five Cheese Mac. For dessert I tried the banana and strawberry pudding, which is also created and made from scratch by one of the restaurant’s managers, T’Rea Pettaway of West Dayton.
Suggested by Nunez, I also had a sampling of the ribs, pulled pork, chicken and smoked sausage—and everything is delicious.
Listening to the conversations of customers inside it’s no surprise as to why Texas Beef & Cattle Co. is quickly earning a reputation for its quality food and friendly staff as well as its commitment to building community. I overheard one customer who ordered ribs say he was happy to find a restaurant close to home in Jefferson Township that serves such great food because in the past he’s had to drive 15 miles to Dayton Mall or Miller Lane to get something to eat.
Nunez moved to Dayton in 1994. For years he’s been active in the revitalization efforts of downtown Dayton. He said Texas Beef & Cattle Co. wants to be a spark that engages in and celebrates the community in a variety of ways, including local partnerships, or creating events.
Bringing 30 years of smoking experience to the restaurant, Nunez has been catering, working weekend barbecue events, graduation parties and soccer tournaments in Dayton for more than 18 years. The native of Corpus Christi, Texas, who now lives in Dayton, started smoking meats while serving in the Navy, beginning around 1985. Nunez is also the president and an investment advisor at AGORA Investments, another Dayton-based company that was founded in 2000.
Nunez says as a teenager he learned a lot from a family friend, who worked with his dad at the Naval Air Station, about how to smoke meat. Nunez says what makes it south Texas-style barbecue is the type of wood that he uses for smoking, which is mesquite wood—straight from Texas.
“I think it’s the connection to my childhood, my past and the things that I miss that gives me that passion to put in that time and energy into something that tastes really good and is very authentic to my upbringing,” Nunez says.
Texas Beef & Cattle Co. (texasbcc.com) provides lunch and dinner Thursday through Sunday to the public as well as to its growing 117 co-op members. The co-op is a way for the community to buy into the business and feel a sense of ownership and feel like they are part of the family.