Rod and Kim Nauling may have made Kansas their home, but they know good Texas barbecue.
They’ll are sharing their brand of barbecue with Topeka after their soft opening of Nauling’s Texas BBQ & Soul Food at 1001 S.E. Quincy St.
“Cooking is second nature for me,” said Rod. “It’s therapy.”
Rod was born and raised in Houston, where he learned the art of cooking from his mother from the time he was a small child.
“We would cook after church on Sunday,” he said. “She would ask me what I wanted to eat, and we would go buy the groceries. Then she would coach me through it.”
Specializing in dishes like barbecue ribs, smoked brisket and pulled pork, all of the meat at Nauling’s is smoked with select, quality varieties of wood logs. Rod said he often experiments with combinations of wood to bring out different flavors.
“It’s all smoke cooked,” he said. “No gas and no charcoal. It’s wood-smoked barbeque.”
Diners at Nauling’s can order from a selection of barbecue sandwiches like the Houston Brisket or the Austin Pulled Pork. All sandwiches are served on a bun with coleslaw, peppered cheese, chips and a drink.
Entrees come by the meat, including the Ultimate Texas Longhorn meal, which includes the choice of four meats and four sides. Rod said the sides and vegetables are all hand cut and freshly prepared, never out of a can.
Chef learned craft at mom’s side
Rod met Kim, who is from Seattle, while he was serving in the U.S. Army. In 2014, they were stationed at Fort Riley military base near Junction City when the Naulings began catering meals for military events, churches and city organizations around Manhattan and Junction City.
“Most of the recipes were from things I learned to cook as a kid from my mom,” said Rod. “I added to it, and then as time went on, went from those recipes to cooking other dishes.”
He experimented with different recipes to see what worked best and had the best flavor, perfecting and mastering a style all his own, including hand crafting rubs and sauces. The catering business was so successful that people began telling Rod and Kim that they should offer a brick-and-mortar option for diners who wanted to enjoy their unique Texas flavor any time.
“During the time that I was getting the recipes down was when we decided to open a restaurant,” said Rod.
After 20 years of military service, Rod retired from the Army in 2017, and he and Kim opened Nauling’s Texas BBQ in Junction City, serving up the same menu with the same Texas hospitality.
Naulings decided to bring restaurant to Topeka
When they decided to move themselves and the business to Topeka, the Naulings looked for a smaller physical space than the one they occupied in Junction City.
“This time we decided to have a smaller building and no employees,” said Kim. “It’s just the two of us.”
The downtown business is opening in the space previously occupied by Daylight Donuts. With limited indoor dining options, Rod and Kim do plan to open the four-table patio for seasonal dining and host local musicians for live music nights when the weather warms up.
In addition to their barbecue menu, a different Soul Food Plate Special will be available each day of the week on a rotating basis. Kim said soul food offerings will include dishes like pork chops and rice with gravy and green beans, fried catfish and salmon nuggets, chicken gumbo, southern fried ribs, wings and coleslaw, and more.
Nauling’s Texas BBQ & Soul Food Topeka launched for a soft opening last week with a limited menu. Rod and Kim look forward to celebrating a Grand Opening event and ribbon cutting soon. Plans are being made to coordinate with the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, and Kim said they’re hoping for a middle-to-end-of-January date.
In the meantime, she said Topeka can get their barbecue fix now.
“You can order online for delivery or order ahead and pickup,” she said.
How to order from Nauling’s Texas BBQ & Soul Food
To place an order or for more information on Nauling’s Texas BBQ & Soul Food, go to www.naulingsbbq.com or call (785) 379-6302.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Nauling’s Texas BBQ & Soul Food opens in downtown Topeka