By June Naylor
Photos by Ron Jenkins
More barbecue? Why not, especially if it’s the real deal. Flores Barbecue’s Michael Wyont starts fresh in Fort Worth.
Fort Worth’s barbecue scene has exploded, and Flores Barbecue’s Michael Wyont is among the young guns stoking the fires.
New to Cowtown, Wyont is an experienced chef and pitmaster. He began cooking for his family at age 11 and opened Flores Barbecue in 2016 in San Marcos, near the Texas barbecue capital of Lockhart. “That’s where I got my spark, going to eat at Kreuz Market, seeing those fires in the pits and watching them make barbecue that was different than things we were doing in our backyard.”
And because his maternal grandfather, Luciano Flores, was San Marcos’ first Hispanic mayor, Wyont took the weight of naming his fledgling business seriously. “When I opened our Flores Barbecue trailer, I knew I had to stay on top of my game to honor our family’s name, which was prominent in San Marcos.”
He could check that box (twice) when Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, gave Flores a thumbs-up within six months of opening and then included the business — which soon moved to Whitney when Wyont and wife-business partner Hali Wyont relocated closer to her parents with their new baby boy — in the magazine’s list of top 50 joints in Texas in June 2017. Lines grew, and so did Flores’ fan base.
Early this year, the Wyonts received an offer nobody would refuse: Developers at the booming Clearfork property on Fort Worth’s Edwards Ranch Road tapped Flores Barbecue as their choice for the district’s brick-and-mortar smokehouse and cantina. Then they sweetened the pot by providing longtime restaurateur-chef Lou Lambert as mentor and hands-on investor. “Lou is revered in the culinary world,” says the soft-spoken Wyont, “and we’re honored having him on our team. He’s been cooking longer than I’ve been alive, and he’s teaching me more about food and helping us learn the business end of this. I want to take care of customers as much as give them quality food, and Lou pushes us to be better at all of it.”
Wyont turns out excellent post-oak-smoked brisket, ribs, sausage and pulled pork but also steller carnitas tacos in handmade tortillas. Working out of a trailer again with his two custom Moberg smokers set up nearby, he and his team are introducing themselves to Fort Worth in preparation for the sizable restaurant and bar to be built next to Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop late next spring.
For his part, Lambert is helping Wyont round out a varied menu. “With our wood-burning grill, we’ll do fish and a couple of steaks, plus salads, too. If you’re a conscientious eater, you’re not stuck with barbecue and Tex-Mex,” says Lambert. General manager Chris Reale is working on tequila and mezcal selections. Lambert has been working with The Beck Group on architecture plans with the goal of creating a spot with the feel of a spacious cantina as well as plenty of sightlines to the smokers. An expansive patio will open onto the Trinity Trail, and early birds can grab coffee and breakfast tacos from a walk-up window.
The Wyonts are in the process of moving to Fort Worth. Commuting was too hard for Michael, who missed time with his 3-year-old, Nolan, and Hali, an ER nurse. Focused on making the trailer work and feeling the pressure (and excitement) of all that lies ahead, the diligent Wyont has to pinch himself. “Every now and then I have to just step back and say to myself, ‘Breathe.’ ”