In the few months that Joshï¿½s Barbecue has been open on the south side, the restaurant has become so popular that it often sells out of barbecue (sliced brisket, smoked turkey, sausages, pulled pork, smoked carne adovada and more) on Friday and Saturday nights. As a result, owner Josh Baum is in the process of expanding into an empty retail space next door to the restaurant. This winter Baum says he will add an extra smoker, a catering kitchen and a to-go window, all to accommodate increased demand. SFR caught up with Baum one recent afternoon, just as the lunch rush was slowing down, for a conversation about what makes this restaurant work so well in Santa Fe.
SFR: You used to work at The Old House, cooking really upscale food.
Yeah, I was the sous chef there from 1999 to 2005, working with Martin Rios. Iï¿½ve even worked in France at Michelin three-star restaurants.
And now youï¿½re doing barbecue, which is the ultimate in low-brow cuisine. What made you decide to make that transition?
Iï¿½ve always loved fine dining but Iï¿½ve always loved casual food, too. Iï¿½ve got an uncle in Oklahoma and heï¿½s really, really successful with two barbecue restaurants near Oklahoma City. I would go visit him and see how successful he was. You know, serving that kind of food, thereï¿½s a different clientele and a different stress level. I thought, ï¿½Wow, heï¿½s got a pretty good life.ï¿½ And you know there really hasnï¿½t been any place here thatï¿½s doing barbecue the way people in Santa Fe want.
What is it that people in Santa Fe want?
Well, a lot of restaurants bring in their potato salad, their sauce and everything. But here, New Mexican restaurants make their beans, they make their chile from scratch. So I wanted to do a place where I make everything here.
How is your idea of barbecue different from what Santa Fe wants?
Well, maybe itï¿½s not really. But what I do is a little different from the style my uncle does. I use a lot of green chile. When I do a special that has chile in it I sell it out. And Iï¿½m a barbecue restaurant!
How did you learn to barbecue?
From my uncle and a little on my own. What I really learned from him was the service part and how to run it. I took a few tips on smoking from him but I wanted to put my own spin on it. I got the smoker and I just started messing around with it and figuring out how to do it. Probably over time things will keep changing because Iï¿½ve only been doing barbecue six months.
Well, your ribs are fantastic.
Thanks. I put a lot of time and effort into getting those ribs. I tried out ribs from tons of different purveyors and then I was finally able to talk one of them into bringing in these natural pork ribs. Itï¿½s not Niman Ranch but itï¿½s the next best thing: hormone free, steroid free, natural ribs where the pigs get to go inside when they want to, outside when they want to and the pens are clean. Thatï¿½s important to me. They should at least have a decent life if weï¿½re going to eat them.
I noticed thereï¿½s a lot of queso on your menu.
My wife loves queso. Did you try the chile cheese fries?
Yeah, I tried the special chile cheese fries with rib meat.
When we run that I eat it every time.
Are there some kinds of barbecue that you love to cook at home but, for whatever reason, you decided not to put on the menu?
I wanted to do a natural, grass-fed beef brisket but it would be double the price. There are certain things that I know I just canï¿½t do. But Iï¿½m still introducing our seasonal sauce. It changes when things are in season. In the winter weï¿½ll do beer sauces and mustard sauces. Thatï¿½s the way to do something new.
What kind of flavors do you think are essential to a good barbecue sauce?
Itï¿½s gotta be sweet, salty, sour and spicy, the whole spectrum. Itï¿½s a lot of fun, we just bring in stuff and start messing around. The morelo cherry one has some Asian flavors in it.
When you have a free night where do you like to eat?
Obviously, I like to eat at Martinï¿½s restaurant at the Inn of the Anasazi. I like Mucho Gusto, Counter Culture and Shohko Cafï¿½. But Iï¿½m always bringing home barbecue for my wife. We eat a lot of barbecue salads. I make barbecue pizzas and quesadillas and I make stew out of the brisket.
3486 Zafarano Drive, Suite A
Open 11:30 am-9 pm Tuesday-Sunday.
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