April 18

A Little Bit of Texas is Coming to SLU

Jack Timmons, the eponymous owner of Jack’s BBQ, is bringing his smoky flavors to the neighborhood this summer.

Buckle up, barbecue fans—all of your meat-sweat dreams will come true this summer. Hungry downtowners will no longer have to make the trek past SODO to Georgetown for a slice of melt-in-your-mouth, slow smoked brisket from Jack’s BBQ. Jack Timmons is opening a Jack’s BBQ in the heart of SLU at 9th & Thomas, a new office building with mixed retail, later this summer. The aim is for a mid-July unveiling of this new barbecue hot spot.

Jack’s BBQ specializes in Central Texas barbecue. For the uninitiated, that means less a reliance on sauce and more of a focus on quality meat cooked low and slow with smoke. According to Timmons, a good chunk of barbecue places in Seattle single in on sauces ranging from spicy to sweet, but in Central Texas, that means you’re hiding the meat. A Northwest resident who served stints as a tech worker at Microsoft and Boeing, Timmons attended a barbecue camp at the Meat Sciences Department at Texas A&M in 2012. Then he toured as many Central Texas barbecue institutions as he could. This sojourn was the impetus for Jack’s BBQ.

“The area was settled by Germans and Czechs in the 1800s. These traditions come from them, and they make barbecue different. They didn’t use sauce. They were butchers, so it was all about the meat. People there would season it simply with salt and pepper and then smoke it. You go to Central Texas now, and there are places that are a 140 years old. They almost look medieval,” he says.

Jack’s BBQ offers pork ribs and shoulder, chicken, and a host of sides, but the real treat here is brisket. “We’re all about the brisket here. They’re super difficult to smoke. It’s a tough muscle. We smoke 12-14 hours over a low temperature. If you cook it for a long period of time, there’s a collagen that melts and makes it moist and tender. You really have to know the sweet spot for smoking brisket. Just a few minutes too long and it could be ruined. We squeeze them to know when to stop cooking, it’s all by touch here to know a brisket’s doneness.”

Timmons thought about taking his endeavors to the Eastside, but the opportunity to be in South Lake Union was too good to pass up. “SLU is relatively close to our original location. You can’t have a smoker there in SLU, so all of our meats will be smoked on site in Georgetown. We really wanted to get to a wider audience—this location extends our current production, and expands our delivery service.

Customers can expect the same mouth-watering menu from its original restaurant, with a few bonus items. Timmons wants to have more fun with happy hour in SLU, meaning the addition of items like the hush dogs, a take on the corn dog made with cheddar-jalapeno sausage that’s been popular at Seattle Mariners games this year. Diners can also expect nachos and housemade queso that’s filled with smoked tomatoes and peppers. Timmons is considering adding an off-menu item from the original location, too—white bread tacos. It’s exactly what you imagine, except for the noted addition of a relish made from house pickles and jalapenos. Timmons also expects to see more interest in vegetarian items at the new SLU location, but maintains that Jack’s BBQ will continue to focus on simplicity. “We love trying new stuff, but you have to keep tradition in mind. We don’t want to stray too far from that. What we do is very specific to a region. It’s hard enough to stick to one thing and nail it.”

Jacks BBQ in SLU will also house a full bar. According to Timmons, a crisp Shiner Bock is typically the perfect pairing for Central Texas barbecue, but margaritas aren’t a bad second choice. Here, they’re made simply with tequila, triple sec, and fresh muddled lime juice. Another popular drink at Jack’s BBQ is the smoked old fashion made with smoked oranges and a smoked brown sugar that turns into a caramel molasses.

Timmons is excited to make his mark in South Lake Union. “I’m in for the long haul. I’d want to have my restaurants last for 30 years. Or forever. I’d love for this place to become an icon in the neighborhood.”

Story by Ethan Chung and Photography by Audrey Kelley and Clare Barboza.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle