CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — According to Andrew "Butter" Soto, owner and operator of Butter's BBQ in Mathis Texas, BBQ is all about preparation.
"Preparation is the key man," says Soto. "Like, BBQ takes a long time. It takes us 18 hours to crank out our briskets from start to cook, to rest, to hold time."
Soto has been preparing to turn BBQ into his career since he was a child, learning about BBQ basics from his family.
"It's a family thing," says Soto. "I remember being present with my dad. My parents, they did fiestas and cookoffs and caterings and I was always there."
Soto caught on as his father would guide them at a young age.
"We would check fires and we didn't know what we were doing. He would just tell us, this is, ya know, what to do - check for the flame. You don't want too much smoke, you also don't want a lot of fires. He explained it well enough to a seven or eight-year-old to kinda catch on early enough."
After working in the oilfields, Soto was able to save enough money to begin investing in what would be his future - Butter's BBQ.
"I bought a grill when I was `19. I moved out of the house. I bought a little forty-dollar grill from Academy. I moved (to) Mathis, I was working in Corpus Christi at the plant," says Soto. "They paid well. I mean at 19 years old I was able to make really decent
living and even save (for) what later, seven years later, became Butters BBQ."
Butter's BBQ had humble beginnings in 2017 with only a few resources and a lot of ups and downs in the first year of business.
"We had a few picnic tables, a smoker that we had built from what I had liquidated from my retirement from the plant, and some used kitchen appliances," says Soto. "It's really hard. You know, a small business is really hard, a restaurant is harder, and then BBQ is even harder."
One of Soto's inspirations is the very popular Franklin’s BBQ in Austin. Soto wanted to bring a Central Texas-style barbecue to the Coastal Bend.
Fast forward to 2021, and Soto's restaurant is a huge success, bringing in BBQ lovers from all over the lone star state. But that isn't the only play to get Butter's fine food. Occasionally the food will come to you. Butter's BBQ teamed up with Full Send BBQ in mid-November for a pop-up at Vernon's bar in Corpus Christi, Texas. Full Send BBQ owner Andrew Vincent Pena hopes to do more of these collaborations.
"It's not a cookoff or nothing," says Pena. "It's about hanging out, showing people what good BBQ is."
Butter's BBQ in Mathis earned its second selection as Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ restaurants in Texas in October.
Here's what the magazine said about Butter's, which has been praised for its fork-tender brisket and mouth-watering ribs among other menu items.
"If you’re traveling along I-37 between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, detour to this joint located along Highway 359. You’ll find superbly smoked USDA Prime brisket, flawless pork ribs, and an excellent jalapeño-cheese sausage, made with 80-20 beef and pork, diced jalapeño, and, on the day we visited, pepper jack cheese. Beyond this ideal of the Texas trinity, Butter’s also offers fine smoked chicken and turkey, pulled pork, and beef ribs."
“It still hasn’t really quite set in yet even though it’s been about 4 or 5 days now,” Soto, said when we interviewed him in October. “This is the first day we’re open.”
It wasn’t even time to open and people were already knocking on the door.
Soto’s most popular items on the menu are the ribs, brisket, and jalapeno sausage, but he said don’t underestimate his turkey or sides.
Butter’s is open Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m.
Butter's is located at 104 South Highway 359 in Mathis. Their phone number is 361-255-6108.
Full Send BBQ is located at Vernon's bar in Corpus Christi.