Joel Sexton, owner of J&L BBQ, at his Snohomish restaurant. He opened a second location in downtown Everett this week. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Joel Sexton, owner of J&L BBQ, at his Snohomish restaurant. He opened a second location in downtown Everett this week. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

J&L Texas-style barbecue expands to Colby Avenue smokehouse

The orange barbecue shack in Snohomish has expanded to downtown Everett.

The second location of J&L BBQ opened this week on Colby Avenue, between The Irishmen and Historic Everett Theatre, in the site of the former Craving Cajun Grill.

It’s a grown-up version of the tiny Snohomish joint at the corner of Avenue D and 2nd Street.

“The kitchen here is as big as that entire place,” owner Joel Sexton said.

Sexton, 52, is the man behind the counter and the letter J. Lila, his 12-year-old daughter, is the L.

He’s a former metal fabricator and a single dad with the dream of opening one restaurant, then two.

“I always thought the barbecue guy was the coolest guy in the world,” Sexton said. “He’s got the smoker out there. And he got paid to do it.”

I’d been to Sexton’s Snohomish place several times and was impressed by the Texas-style fare cooked up by the Snohomish County native.

The Everett venue has pretty much the same meaty menu: beef brisket, ribs, chicken, pulled pork, sausage and tri-tips.

“I use a simple rub. Salt and pepper. You want to be able to taste the meat, the smoke, the rub, all that,” Sexton said. “The biggest mistake people make is they oversmoke it. There’s a lot of mistakes you can make with barbecue. It’s a hard meat to do.”

Side dishes include cole slaw, french fries, potato salad, baked beans and mac and cheese.

He plans to serve wine and beer at the Everett locale, which seats about 40 in booths and tables.

I went there the second day it was opened. The bright and spacious dining area was bustling with diners eating barbecue spread on butcher paper and served on a metal tray. Sexton moved swiftly, slicing ribs and brisket at the counter.

I bought a family pack, four meats and four large sides for $60, to bring home for my herd to enjoy. The portions are huge. It fed some friends as well.

My friend Paula is a rib junkie. “The cartilage was perfect,” she said. “It wasn’t too hard. It was nice and crunchy.”

My daughter-in-law praised the brisket. “It was soft and tender. Melting,” she said. “I liked the mac and cheese. I was going to leave some for someone but I couldn’t. I had to finish it.”

I felt that way about the crisp cole slaw that was accented with pineapple. It was my first time eating beef tri-tips, but not my last.

Tri-tips is the gateway meat that led Sexton into the barbecue business.

“I tasted some tri-tips a buddy made and it was the best thing in the world. So I started doing it. Then I built my own barbecue,” Sexton said.

Sexton, who lives in Lake Stevens, got started doing Aquafest and other festivals.

“Barbecue is hard to catch on in Washington,” he said. “Here it is more teriyaki and tofu.”

He bought the Snohomish barbecue in 2015.

“It was the Naked Pig. Then it was Eddie’s Woodfire BBQ. I thought, “What the heck, I’ll give it a shot,’ ” he said.

“The first thing I did was paint it. I thought it would be good for people to see there was a new owner. And I hated the pink color. We painted the inside, tore the kitchen apart and put it back together.”

The kitchen was intact at the Everett spot, but the rest needed revamping.

“I’ve done a lot of construction. I’m having a blast. I’ve been working 16 hours a day,” Sexton said.

Downtown Everett has potential for a lot more business, he said, especially the lunch crowd.

“I feel like the luckiest guy in the world who gets paid to do it, even though there’s a lot of work to do. A lot of work,” Sexton said. “Half the battle in life is just being the guy who does it.”


2915 Colby Ave, Everett; 425-259-3222;

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The J&L BBQ in Snohomish is at 130 Avenue D, Snohomish; 360-568-7222;

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