One of the hottest barbecue spots in the Valley offers not just a place to chow down on delicious smoked meats, but also a spot to hang out and socialize.
Before focusing on the atmosphere, Owner Joseph Salinas wanted to master the pit. He had experience owning a restaurant, with Copper Moon, but to succeed as a BBQ joint in meat-crazy Texas took some practice.
“Our motto is everything we do we smoke it with love,” Salinas said. “That’s one thing that I think people should strive to do, and that’s what we do, put a lot of love into your craft and do it the best.”
Salinas said his barbecue skills had a ways to go, but he took lessons, began to cater for friends and family, and finally felt he was ready to open Smokin’ Moon, which has wowed eaters for nearly five years.
“I hadn’t barbecued in my life outside of grilling,” he said. “I took that as a challenge. I wanted to teach myself and do it right. I consumed myself with it to get where we are today.
We started the Pharr location in 2018, we’ll hit five years in October. We just opened a Trenton location in 2022, and we have a location in La Plaza mall, and we’re hoping for more.”
From his experience with Copper Moon, Salinas knew the Valley to create a spot where people would want to hang out and spend time together.
“What gives us the most satisfaction is people enjoying our food and getting together as families,” he said. “That’s what we like about barbecue, it’s a very communal food. People come in groups to eat and hang out. We wanted to give more than just a normal barbecue restaurant where you come in, eat, and leave.”
At Smokin’ Moon, along with the food, beer selections, and live music, give reasons for folks to kick their feet up and enjoy, whether they entered dressing for a business meeting, a date, or a family night out.
When asked if it was intimidating to open Smokin’ Moon in a state crazy about barbecue and in a region saturated with great places to eat, Salinas admitted it was scary.
“It was a little scary not knowing,” Salinas said. “I like to think of myself of a perfectionist. I want to do things at the highest level, I don’t want to be mediocre. Especially because the previous three years, I was more in the American cuisine type of food. It was a lot of preparation.”
Love and care are something that Salinas hopes shine through in all of the meals served at Smokin’ Moon. Not everyone will be aware of the thoughtfulness and planning behind the meals, but it should be noticeable in every bite.
“It was a lot of trial and error being able to get the flavor profiles we wanted,” he said. “We still stuck with our central Texas profile but with a little more of a southwestern flare that I wanted to add to my seasonings. I like to add the Valley flavor, which is more cumin, onion powder, garlic a little bit of chili powder for a kick.”
Smokin’ Moon’s doors are open to everyone, according to Salinas.
“I think about a place that I would want to go and hang out and be friendly,” he said. “So, I created a place that is pet friendly, where people from all walks of life could go and hang out.”