Steady Smokin’ BBQ

Geronimo Escobar stands
with his smoker.
Geronimo Escobar stands with his smoker.

The fusion of Mexican food and barbecue that he grew to love in Texas couldn’t be found on the streets of Sacramento, so Geronimo Escobar decided to do something about it and opened his own pop-up business. Using his experience in the kitchens of various soul food restaurants and his expertise in fabricating barbecue pits and smokers, he opened Steady Smokin’ BBQ.

Unlike traditional barbecue, Escobar pairs his smoked meats with handmade salsas and tortillas. “We make it all from scratch,” he says. “The salsas are made using a molcajete of volcanic stone. My girlfriend makes all the tortillas by hand.” One of his favorites is the blue corn tortilla with smoked chicken, purple cabbage, and jalapeños. “Everything tastes so much better when it’s made with the extra effort of doing it by hand.”

Tacos topped with cabbage, cilantro, and jalapeño.
Tacos topped with cabbage, cilantro, and jalapeño.

Escobar has long welded the pits and smokers used by other barbecue cooks in California. “I make Texas style smokers which are horizontal and offset. It operates differently than others, like you can’t put as much meat on it, but the flavor is so much better. The smoke flavor is lighter, so it doesn’t overpower the meat,” he explains. But at the onset of the pandemic, he decided to make a smoker for himself.

“It was a crazy time to open a business, but people still need to eat.”

And people did come to eat. From the Midtown Farmers Market on Saturdays to the breweries and festivals he pops up at, customers continue to seek out Escobar’s food. He says he enjoys seeing locals discover the food he came to love as a boy. “I like to share this with others; it’s not something for me to hold on to for myself,” he says. “I grew up barbecuing with my dad, grandpa, brothers, and cousins. It was a family pastime, and we’d all share techniques and styles. That’s where I learned how to build pits.” He also discovered from his experience near the border that the flavors of neighboring Mexico weren’t uniform. “When I was younger, I always thought Mexican food was Mexican food, but I learned there are so many different styles from different regions of the country. Tex-Mex is another style, even, on its own,” he remembers.

The smoke flavor is lighter so the meat shines.
The smoke flavor is lighter so the meat shines.

That flavor evolves yet again in Escobar’s barbecue, which uses local fodder like grape and almond wood instead of the traditional Arizona-grown mesquite. For newcomers, Escobar suggests trying the smoked brisket breakfast burrito, which features potatoes fried in beef tallow, sunny side up eggs, salsa, and seasonal chiles. “We keep things on the mild side so everyone can enjoy, but we do offer a hot version because I like spicy. Ask for our spicy chipotle BBQ sauce if you want some heat.”