Biz Beat

Carnivore’s serves up barbecue in Turlock

Owner Richard Aziz and employee Courtney Van Fleet are pictured Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2016, at Carnivore’s BBQ Sandwich Shop in Turlock.
Owner Richard Aziz and employee Courtney Van Fleet are pictured Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2016, at Carnivore’s BBQ Sandwich Shop in Turlock.

Years ago, the staff in our company cafeteria made a chicken Philly that ranks among the best sandwiches of all time. The grilled onions and peppers were just perfect – way better than I can do at home, and I sure have tried.

I thought about that sandwich this week when I tried the Cali Tri-Tip Cheesesteak at Carnivore’s BBQ Sandwich Shop in Turlock. Carnivore’s recently opened on Geer Road, a fact I didn’t realize until reader Sarah Darrah sent in an email.

I have mentioned before how much I enjoy hearing from readers, even when they are telling me that I essentially blew it. Sarah didn’t put it that way, of course; she only mentioned that I missed Carnivore’s in a recent column about new restaurants opening in Turlock.

“We ate lunch there today and loved it,” she said.

So I called up owner Richard Aziz, who told me business has been brisk since he and his wife, Teresa, opened Carnivore’s in December. He already had built up a client base; Carnivore’s catering and barbecue business dates back to 2010. Customers at places like the Turlock Farmers Market would ask Aziz when he was going to open a permanent business. Originally, the plan called for a food truck.

“Things didn’t quite work out,” Aziz said. “This past summer, this space became available and we decided to go for it, basically.”

Aziz got started barbecuing when he was in high school, thanks to a friend’s invitation to dinner.

The friend’s dad, Aziz said, made a tri-tip roast, barbecued “on just a regular Weber (grill) with red oak bark. First time I ever had it with that type of smoke. I begged the dad, ‘Show me how you do this.’ 

Since then, Aziz has been perfecting his own spin on traditional Santa Maria barbecue. His ambition: “We’re trying to put California on the map as far as barbecue.”

Back to the sandwich. I stopped in and ordered the Cali Tri-Tip Cheesesteak, suggested by the person who took my order. I also got some garlic fries and a pulled pork sandwich, then split everything with my date (my mom).

Oh, my gosh – the cheesesteak was wonderful. The meat was very flavorful and the vegetables just as good as Phil and the gang used to make at the Beestro. I will be honest – I haven’t eaten my half of the pulled pork sandwich yet (Mom and I both got full on half a sandwich, so it’s in the fridge), but I tasted it and the chipotle barbecue sauce and I am in for a leftover treat later today.

Aziz calls his restaurant fast casual, and says someone asks him daily if it’s a franchise because of the vibe (the decor is all California, with tailgates making up the bench backs) and the uniforms.

“It’s a fun atmosphere,” Aziz said. “It’s almost like a franchise, but it’s a mom-and-pop shop.”

Find Carnivore’s at 2685 Geer Road, Turlock. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Call 209-846-4227.

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE BUSINESS BEAT: If you know a veteran who is looking for work, you might steer him or her to a job and information fair set for Thursday in Modesto.

Sponsored by the Stanislaus County Veteran Employment Committee, the Veteran Memorial Technical/Manufacturing Job and Info Fair is free and open to the public. It is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Modesto Technical College, 1300 N. Ninth St.

For more information, call 209-576-6118.