Barbecue connoisseur and chef, Jason Waters, is serving up some of the best barbecue Lubbock has to offer. You can eat his delicious barbecue dishes and specialty cocktails at E&J Smokehouse and Grill at Spirit Ranch. Eating at E&J’s is more than a culinary experience. You’ll find beautiful scenery, live music, family fun events, and other excitement for an experience to remember. What started as a simple love for barbecue has turned into a local favorite for fun and fine dining.
What made you decide to start E&J’s Smokehouse?
I’m originally from Lubbock, Texas, and I graduated from Texas Tech with a hospitality degree. Upon graduating, I moved out to Florida and worked for a restaurant out there. I’ve always enjoyed cooking barbecue on my own time, so when I couldn’t find good barbecue that I liked in Florida, I started messing around with recipes of my own. I developed my own sauces and seasonings, and then actually opened a barbecue food truck. I ran the food truck in Florida for around two years before I had the opportunity to open up a restaurant here in Lubbock.
So, E&J’s was developed in Florida with the idea of providing Texas barbecue in an area that didn’t offer it. Once I had the opportunity to open a restaurant in Lubbock, I moved back. The food truck is still in Florida, but we’re about to move it here to Lubbock.”
What’s unique about the E&J’s Smokehouse location?
“We are located at Spirit Ranch. We operate that whole property. We left the Spirit Ranch name because that’s what people are familiar with. So the whole property is called Spirit Ranch and the restaurant is E&J’s Smokehouse.
It’s a unique experience for Lubbock because our location is so beautiful. Lubbock is mostly flat and dry with cotton fields everywhere. At Spirit Ranch, we’re located in a little canyon that has a creek running through it and hundred-year old elm trees growing around the water. We also have peacocks that roam the property. It’s almost like you’re not in Lubbock when you’re here around this scenery.”
Any favorite moments from your time running E&J’s Smokehouse?
“Since we’ve been here, we get people coming in because it’s where they proposed or got married 30 years ago, before the restaurant was here. Over the years so much has happened, and people will come back and say, Oh I was proposed to on that bridge twenty years ago and we’re here for our anniversary. It’s special to have people come back and share those stories of the memories they have of this place.”
What do you Like about being a local Lubbock business?
“I like the community. The reason I came back to Lubbock is because the people here are so friendly and down-to-earth. Everyone is always willing to help each other out. I try to support as many local businesses as I can when I think about going out to eat, and I hope people would do the same for me.”
Do you work with other local businesses in Lubbock?
“We get all of our bread from the local bakery here in town, Market Street Bakery. A lot of our food supply comes from Affiliated Foods which is based out of Amarillo. Most of their products come from local farms in the area. Our beef comes from a spot just north of Lubbock, and we try to source local farms for vegetables and produce as well.”
What are your Hopes and Dreams for E&J’s Smokehouse?
“As we get bigger and busier, we hope to add another location. Right now we’re on the outside of town, closer to the airport. Lubbock is growing, but it’s growing south in the opposite direction of us. So, long term it would be great to find another unique spot to open up on the south end of town.
Until then, we are looking forward to moving the food truck out here. The whole idea is that we can take the truck to those places we currently don’t reach. Lubbock’s a small town and it’s funny because people hesitate to come to our place because it might be a 10 to 15 minute drive from them. In a bigger city like Houston or Dallas, people will easily drive 15 minutes to go out to eat, but in Lubbock people tend to hesitate. We hope to encourage people to give us a shot.”
We also hope you’ll give E&J Smokehouse and Grill a shot. Why? Well for one, we think you’ll love it and two, when you eat at local restaurants, you are helping your local community thrive + keeping local dreams alive! To keep exploring Lubbock, choosing local, and get rewarded for it, download Towny. Towny’s the app that guides you local, for free!