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Interstellar BBQ’s Spaced Cowboy Party Brings South-of-the-Border Barbecue to Austin with Delicious Results

The Buzzy BBQ spot welcomes globally renowned barbeque experts for their new pop-up concept, inspiring innovative smokey flavors.

Since its grand opening in 2019, Interstellar BBQ in North Austin has established itself as a must-visit destination for fans of smoked meat and all the fixings. Chef John Bates and his team use classic Central Texas barbecue techniques to prep tender brisket, zingy pulled lamb, and spicy jalapeño sausages, and they incorporate unique flavors from all over the world into their most popular items (like their hugely-beloved Polish kielbasa and their peach tea-glazed pork belly).

In tune with Interstellar’s willingness to explore flavors and ingredients that go beyond the typical slow-smoked, salt-and-pepper-only ethos of Austin-area BBQ, the innovative team launched Spaced Cowboy, a recurring pop-up event welcoming barbecue pit crews from other restaurants and top global BBQ regions. Last month, Spaced Cowboy focused on the barbecue stylings of Monterrey, Mexico.

Monterrey in northwestern Mexico close to the Texas-Mexico border is home to several acclaimed barbecue joints, and Monterrey BBQ chefs draw major inspiration from Central Texas when smoking and serving their brisket, sausage, and other meats. But Monterrey barbecue chefs also embrace the Mexican ingredients and flavors surrounding them, which is why the Monterrey iteration of Space Cowboy featured a lot of tacos, flautas, and empanadas.

Four Monterrey chefs snagged spots at the latest Spaced Cowboy, and the Interstellar team also claimed a booth. A $60 ticket gave attendees entry and the opportunity to try all of the featured dishes, including access to an open beer and wine bar. We started at the booth helmed by RIVS Smoke & Grill, a renowned Monterrey smokehouse. RIVS served a tender corn gordita loaded with asado de puerco-style pork belly and smoky charro beans cooked with chorizo and ham. The textures and flavors melded together to create a perfectly savory plate.

Photos by Taylor Tobin

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Next, we sampled a taco made with a corn tortilla, smoked & grilled chicken thighs,  pineapple-habanero salsa, guacamole, and a dusting of pork chicharrones, all prepared by the team behind Old Jimmy’s BBQ. This Monterrey favorite specializes in Central Texas barbecue. The juicy chicken thighs were an excellent vessel for smoke, and the creamy guac and bright salsa provided valuable flavor balance.

Smokey José, a Monterrey cocina with a serious smoked-meat presence on its menu, served cabrito tacos, which starred enormously flavorful and tender goat meat on fresh corn tacos, dressed with tomato, onion, and salsa. As for the modern BBQ restaurant Nomada XXI, they gave us a satisfying surf-and-turf chimichanga with shrimp and beef.

For their part, the Interstellar crew had no intention of blending into the background; welcoming these talented chefs into their territory inspired them to get creative. Their sugar-cured burnt ends dish featured mellow Japanese sweet potato and spicy chili oil contrasting with the hearty smoked meat.

Interstellar BBQ intends to host more Spaced Cowboy collaborative pop-ups in the future, and we’ll be eagerly awaiting the next one.

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