The History of BBQ in Amarillo

Monday, March 29th, 2021
BBQ in Amarillo

Amarillo, Texas is a place where the Old West meets a 21st-century city.  The community is encompassed by active ranches that are virtually unaltered from the 1800s in their everyday operations. Beef is king in the area, and barbeque is a very popular way to prepare meat there. 


Almost 80 years before the pilgrims made it to Plymouth Rock, Francisco Coronado made his way to the vast open spaces of what would one day be the Texas Panhandle. The spacious, empty plains were promptly coveted by buffalo hunters. In the late 1800s, a herd of longhorn cattle was introduced into Palo Duro Canyon by Charles Goodnight. After that, the fresh grazing grass in the High Plains enticed many cattlemen and sheepherders eager to move to the area and to start a new life.

“Oneida” was the first name of the town,  but it was soon changed to Amarillo, meaning “yellow” in Spanish, for the vast swathes of yellow grass in the region.  Many of the city’s original homes were painted yellow in tribute to the name change. 

BBQ in Amarillo, although popular with locals, has grappled for statewide prestige. That isn’t altogether because of its remote location. The region is a relative novice in the state’s BBQ history. The first restaurants in the region opened in the the1950s, which explains why Texas BBQ folklore seldom refers to Amarillo. However, the area has created some of the best chefs in the state. 


One easy way to understand the importance of BBQ in Amarillo is to look back at its history. Ten thousand years ago, the Caddo Native Americans that lived in the region used wood fires to cook their meats. Spanish shepherds residing in the High Plains during the 1600s cooked goats and sheep on spits. “Al pastor,” which means “shepherd style,” is the term for this type of pit roasting.  “Barbacoa,” the Mexican manner of roasting beef under hot coals, was common in the area as well. All of these historic methods of cooking meat influenced how BBQ is made in the Texas Panhandle today.


Beef replaced pork as the most common meat in the Panhandle after the Civil War. In Southern BBQ, the entire hog is roasted. In the Amarillo area, barbecuing an entire steer is the utmost in BBQ. 

German and Czech cooks brought European meat smoking to Texas from around 1830 to the 1890s. These butchers used enclosed smokers to cook their wares, leading the way for the BBQ standard in the Amarillo area. 


One of the most influential and iconic BBQ masters in the area is the Dyer family. Roy Dyer opened their first family-style bbq restaurant in Pampa, Texas in 1967. They offered “all you can eat” for $1.75 per person. The Amarillo restaurant location launched in 1984. Both continue the same dedication the Dyer family clan has had from the beginning.

The Dyer’s BBQ Restaurants continue their heritage with rubs, meats, sauces and, sides that have made them so successful.  They use the same made-from-scratch family recipes they created over the years and improved as time went on. 

For a relaxed, family-friendly dining experience with delicious Texas BBQ,  Dyer’s Bar-B-Que is the place to be. Check out the menu options and explore the Big Bear Saloon, Catering, and the Store. Call (806) 358-7104 in Amarillo, and (806) 665-4401 in Pampa to learn more. Dyer’s BBQ is located at 1619 S. Kentucky E #526 I-40 and Georgia in the Wellington Square Shopping Center in Amarillo, Texas. In Pampa, you can visit the location at 11816 U.S. Highway 60.