IT'S BEEN a busy three and half years for Jimmy and Tam Macken as they have taken their unique Texan barbecue from backyard to courtyard.

Bareknuckle BBQ opened its doors in the backyard of the family's Riverslea Rd property.

Such was the success of the slow smoked Texan brisket and ribs it soon became obvious they would have to find bigger premises.

At the end of last year they moved to 1024 Pakowhai Rd, Hastings (the former Ten Twenty Four restaurant), right next door to the Fruit Shop.

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Their chef Jonathan Del Pino and his wife Vivian invested in the business, adding authentic Mexican food to the extended menu.

"This is the perfect spot for us," Tam said.

"It's right in the heart of the community and we have so much more room. We wanted to make sure our vibe was still casual and relaxed — we still have a grassed area a bit like a backyard.

"There's the option to eat indoors or out in the courtyard.

"We are excited to be starting our DJ in the courtyard tomorrow with Chopper Reeds from Fat Freddy's Drop. This will be a regular event for March with a variety of local talent playing on each of the five Sundays during the month.

"It's a great way to spend an afternoon, listening to music, eating great food and having a drink or two."

One of the first things you notice at Bareknuckle BBQ is the pits. Pitmaster Jimmy brought the first pit back from Texas where he learned to cook Texan style. The second they had built by a local firm.

Jimmy says the difference between a Kiwi barbecue and a Texan one is that instead of grilling your meat it is slowly smoked using organic fruit wood.

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"There is no charcoal, wood chips or pellets here. It does take some skill to control the fire and the smoke though.

"I love it when customers come over and talk to me when I'm cooking. They want to know how the pits work. I'm happy chatting away."

He says beef and brisket reduces to about half its size during cooking which intensifies the flavour and the smoky aftertaste.

Last year for Winter F.A.W.C! they held a BBQ boot camp.

"It was a great success," Jimmy said. "We will be doing it again this year."

Also on the agenda this year is the famous Bareknuckle BBQ Chilli Competition. This year it will be held on April 14. The winner will head to the NZ championships.

It's also their third annual chilli cook off where customers and chefs bring along their chilli and compete against each other.

"It's always a lot of fun."

While in America learning to be a pitmaster, Jimmy says he also learned the appropriate way to serve it.

"No plate. It comes on a tray with slaw, pickle, white bread and our homemade BBQ sauce that you may or may not choose to use."

The unique Tex Mex menu is full of authentic Texan and Mexican foods along with steak and their amazing burgers and waffle fries (these are absolutely delicious). There is also a kids' menu.

"There are loads of good family options on our menu and we source as much of our food locally as possible."

The couple say that are absolutely loving the new premises.

"We have much more scope and options. We can deal with bigger groups and love the fact that we sit right in the middle of the community. It has also resulted in us employing more locals — we have a great team."

They are also great believers in giving back to the community. They sponsor lots of local junior sport including rugby, softball and equestrian.

Summer has been busy for them and they are looking forward to a busy autumn and winter.

"We welcome walk ins. Pop in after work for a drink and a bite to eat, or come for a meal."

■Large groups are encouraged to book — phone 06 870 4400.

■Bareknuckle BBQ is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to late.