Californian Daniel Castillo’s barbecue is so authentically delicious that even notoriously picky ’cue experts deem his brisket exceptional. Castillo’s Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano serves Instagrammable meals that are worthy of the long lines , but the chef’s journey to saucy success deserves equal attention. Alta Journal contributing editor (and food enthusiast) Gustavo Arellano profiled Castillo’s work in Alta’s Fall 2021 issue. Arellano joins Castillo—live from Heritage’s meat smoker—to introduce us to this SoCal chef, learn the secrets behind Castillo’s unbeatable barbecue, and perhaps (OK, probably) dig into some meat for this virtual lunchtime hangout. Napkins optional.
About the guests:
Daniel Castillo is the chef and owner of Heritage Barbecue in San Juan Capistrano, California. He and his wife, Brenda, began their business from the family’s Southern California backyard and opened their brick-and-mortar spot in 2020. Heritage’s barbecue has appeared on many Best Of lists, including in Food & Wine, Eater LA, and Time Out.
Gustavo Arellano is the author of Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. He is a features writer for the Los Angeles Times, has been an essayist and reporter for various publications, and is a frequent commentator on radio and television. He was formerly the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, and penned the award-winning ¡Ask a Mexican!, a nationally syndicated column in which he answered any and all questions about America’s spiciest and largest minority. Arellano is the recipient of awards ranging from Best Columnist from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies to the Los Angeles Press Club’s President’s Award to an Impacto Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition. In 2008, he was recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with a Spirit Award for his “exceptional vision, creativity, and work ethic.” Arellano is a lifelong resident of Orange County and is the proud son of two Mexican immigrants, one of whom came to this country in the trunk of a Chevy.•