the story of the “california” barbecue
california barbecue is the direct descendant of a traditional indian cooking system used by the kiowas, araphoes and ures. we are very fortunate today that an old kiowa sheepherder names tom walkingstorm shared the secret of his ancient indian barbecuing method with the founders of emil villa’s california barbecue restaurants.
the indians barbecued over open fires and swabbed their meats with a secret basting solution they called “lassyemma.” they dig a pit about thirty inches deep, near a cliff or in a cave where the fire would have protection from the wind, and where the meats would receive the maximum smoke. during the process, they would intermittently swab the meats with the lassyemma which gave the meats their distinctive flavor and retained the juices, preventing the meats from shrinking.
in 1928, we opened a small storefront on the old trolley line on telegraph avenue in downtown oakland to introduce california barbecue to the world. lassyemma, now known as by its trade name “pyrocure”, was applied with a patented spraying device. mr. Emil villa, already known around oakland for his fine pies, soon gained a reputation for the best barbecued ribs and meats as well.
today, emil villa’s california barbecue is famous throughout the world. at emil villa’s, we hope you will enjoy eating our fine fare as much as we enjoy cooking it for you.