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EaDo’s Splashy New Barbecue Destination Is Already Selling Out

Open for lunch currently, J-Bar-M Barbecue is led by acclaimed pitboss Willow Villarreal

A spread of smoked meats with sides from J-Bar-M Barbecue.
Brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and pulled pork are all on J-Bar-M Barbecue’s opening menu
Robert J. Lerma

J-Bar-M Barbecue just opened in a gleaming space in EaDo, with an up-and-coming pitboss at the helm. Willow Villarreal, who earned rave reviews for his short-lived Willow’s Texas BBQ food truck, is serving brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and pulled pork so far at the restaurant at 2201 Leeland. J-Bar-M Barbecue is owned by John Toomey, a real estate investor and barbecue enthusiast.

No expense is spared for Villarreal’s new digs, which are a big step up from a food truck. At J-Bar-M Barbecue, a pit room features four, 1,000-gallon, offset steel barrel smokers, each hand-built by Moberg Smokers of Dripping Springs. Villarreal also can experiment with two direct-heat, whole-hog smokers, as well as Houston’s only coal-preparation fireplace.

Villarreal’s fiancée Jasmine Barela serves as chef de cuisine, and she’s responsible for sides like Cajun-style potato salad, red cabbage slaw, charro beans, marinated cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower au gratin. Eye-catching desserts include banana pudding, peach cobbler, giant cinnamon rolls, and chocolate ganache pie.

J-Bar-M Barbecue is currently open for lunch only and is selling out regularly. The plan is to open for dinner service after Thanksgiving and add a wider selection of meats to the menu (think steaks, chicken, prime rib, chili, and rack of lamb).

A nighttime exterior of J-Bar-M Barbecue
A spacious, modern building with a view of the downtown skyline houses J-Bar-M Barbecue
Robert J. Lerma

The restaurant sits on a plot of land with an excellent view of the Downtown skyline, so naturally, there’s an outdoor patio with a stage for live music and other events. Inside the modern space, find massive windows, beamed ceilings, a full bar, and decor like a mural map of historic Houston barbecue joints. There’s seating for more than 350 people, and the restaurant also offers a private events space called the Back Lot.

J-Bar-M Barbecue is currently open from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, although the restaurant will close earlier if the barbecue sells out.