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Fagundes: Best barbecue from old-school meat counter

You can get meat in a lot of places.

The grocery store. The big-box store. The warehouse store.

But what Frank Teixeira has been able to do with Fagundes Meats and Catering – a Manteca institution for decades now – is keep the last bastion of an old-school meat counter alive. His continued success comes from a combination of quality customer service and a diversified product line that has helped make sure that people will be enjoying the fruits of the family business for years into the future.

What exactly has helped Fagundes Meats survive in a changing marketplace where quality is often sacrificed for savings and customer service is disregarded as from a bygone era?

By paying attention to what the customers actually want.

Until recently you could only buy a fully cooked Fagundes tri-tip, rack of ribs or whole chicken on a Friday or a Saturday. The business was closed on Sunday and Monday, and unless you could get down to the store during those weekend hours, you ended up having to cook up whatever you were buying on your own.

All of that has changed.

Now barbecue is available from Thursday through Sunday, and if you give Teixeira and his crew a little bit of lead-time, they’ll cook up whatever you want during the week.

“I would have people come up to me and tell me, ‘man I wish you were open today – I wish I could come down and pick up some tri-tips so I don’t have to cook,’” Teixeira said. “And I thought to myself, ‘maybe you can.’

“We’re still closed on Monday, but enough people said that they wanted to be able to buy fully-cooked so we decided to give it to them. It’s good for when you don’t have the time to cook it yourself, and we do this for a living so you know that you’re going to get something seasoned up and warm and ready to serve.”

And while providing quality cuts of meat is the backbone of the business, Teixeira has been able to enjoy success through a diversification of businesses – spread out over the meat counter, a flourishing catering business, custom meat processing and a developing seasoning, marinade and sauce endeavor that has put the Fangundes name into stores far beyond just Manteca.

The seasoning – which was born in his stepfather’s kitchen decades ago – is the lifeblood of the business.

Everything that Fagundes Meats serves to its customers that is ready to eat – whether it’s a tri-tip sandwich or a rack of pork ribs or the delectable dishes like potato salad or tri-tip chili or “the best Portuguese beans in the world” – is seasoned with the house recipe that for years would draw customers from far and wide looking to have their meat dressed by the best.

Barbecue aficionados from places like Omaha, Nebraska and Austin, Texas keep a bottle of it nearby to blend the best rubs and the best marinades with the best ingredients possible.

Sometimes all it takes, Teixeira said, is somebody coming in for a sandwich before they leave with their seasoned roast or steaks to cook up at home.

“The seasoning is really where it all starts,” he said. “I wish we could get in every store across the country. But people have been coming here forever because of that, and we’re not going to change what works.”

Fagundes Meats is located at 142 Jason St., in Manteca. For more information, call 209.239.4184 or visit