Beef cheeks are suddenly the darling of high-end Italian restaurants to taco trucks and barbeque joints. They're an odd cut of meat, though. Because those muscular cheeks chew cud all day, they're tough and full of fat and connective tissue. To cook them properly, a slow and low approach is best to help break them down. Braising, smoking and the slow cooker are your best bets.
Meat fans who have suddenly tired of the previously trendy brisket see beef cheeks as a new challenge and a welcome change. When cooked properly, they fall apart and are full of flavor, practically melting with every bite.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the cut was pushed by beef producers to barbeque pitmasters who were looking of ways to sell more than just brisket. That also explains why oxtail has been having a moment. The weirder the cut, the more pitmasters rose to the challenge to see who can make the random bits the most delicious. Now that the secret formula to beef cheeks in unlocked, its popularity has spread to more than just barbeque pits. Plus, it's an affordable cut, so the idea of making Wagyu beef at home suddenly doesn't feel out of reach.
To make your own cheeks, make sure they are well-trimmed and the silvery layer has been removed (but you can always save those for stock or a jus). Pick a recipe where you can let the cheeks mellow -- time is your friend.