BBQ Revolution's Slow-Smoked Vegan Barbecue
The best damn meat-free barbecue you've ever had
One Austin man stands tall in the fight for animals, environment, and vegans' right to partake in Texas' favorite meal. Blake Newman is hellbent on providing the local meat-free community with the best damn barbecue they've ever had, but this wasn't his original game plan.
Before he opened BBQ Revolution back in 2013, Newman's plan was to offer a varied menu that just happened to include a meat-free barbecue sandwich. He tossed the idea around with a friend at a bar one fateful eve and came to the abrupt conclusion that barbecue sandwiches (or tacos, or burgers, or anything Austin had plenty of already) did not make for a novel food truck enterprise. But real vegan barbecue, prepared traditionally? Nobody else was doing that, and they still aren't. Sure, vegans can fill up on barbecue sandwiches at a few local restaurants and food trucks, including Beer Plant and Blue Cat Cafe – both big players in the Austin vegan food scene – but one barbecue-inspired sandwich is not what Newman had in mind.
The term barbecue isn't necessarily equivalent to meat; it's more about the process and resulting flavor. In the same way all of Austin's conventional barbecue joints painstakingly tend to their beef briskets and pork ribs, BBQ Revolution utilizes marinades, dry rubs, and hours of smoking to attain those craveworthy layers of flavor expected to come out from a barbecue joint. He says, "Everything is done pretty much the same way you would do with meat."
While his focus medium is different from the offerings at Black's or Franklin, Newman is a legit pitmaster: Instead of bovine pectoral muscle, he smokes seitan brisket. Instead of pork ribs, he serves up flavorful slabs of savory tempeh ribs. In place of chopped beef, he offers the crowd-pleasing favorite soy curls. This plant-based barbecue is delicious, but, predictably, also meatless with a mission (because no self-respecting plant-based chef would pass up the opportunity to proselytize when asked): Newman believes that plant-based barbecue is not only animal-friendly, it's better for the environment and people's health, too. There is no cholesterol, no bones, no gristle. "It's good to the last bite, and you never have to spit anything out," Newman says.
As vegans across Austin are painfully aware, the popular trailer has been out of commission for some time now and fans were starting to get nervous that they'd seen the last of BBQ Revolution. Facebook posts and online reviews were pouring in from barbecue lovers begging for answers and pleading for Newman to reopen soon. He'd closed up shop after a big Oktoberfest bash last year, with the intention of taking a breather and finding a new space. From sick pets to frozen trailer pipes, personal and professional setbacks cropped up over the last year. Permits took longer than anticipated, refrigerators had to be replaced, electricians were rescheduled. "I didn't plan on it being this long," he explains. "It took a lot out of me."
Finally, as of May 30, BBQ Revolution is back and better than ever, and it's already proving to be well worth the wait. While Newman is only reopening the food truck for now, the plans for a brick-and-mortar restaurant across the parking lot are shaping up. He'll be sharing the space with White Mountain, the same folks that make the quality seitan Newman slow-smokes. He'll still serve up fan favorite sides like creamy mac & cheese, Cajun corn, and potato salad, and has a few surprises in store (vegan McRib, anyone?). Bring your appetite. Newman will supply the Wet-Naps.
BBQ Revolution3301 E. Fifth
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