John Lewis, the Austin, Tex. transplant who’s readying to open Lewis Barbecue at 464 Nassau St. this fall, is spending his Saturday afternoons slinging smoked meat at Revelry Brewing. The pop-up has proven immensely popular in its first two weeks, which is another way of saying “prepare to stand in line.” Below, a few more tips for making the most of the Summer BBQ Series, gleaned from a recent visit:
Because brisket is as Texan as the two-step, that’s the big deal meat for Charleston’s pork-accustomed crowd. But don’t sleep on the pulled pork, which is smoky and rich, or the kaleidoscopic spices invigorating the hot guts. Pickled jalapenos cost 35 cents apiece, and they’re worth every penny.
If you’re dead set on beef ribs, it’s probably wise to show up at 12 noon, when lunch service begins. If you’re not first in line, though, you’re looking at a very long wait: When I arrived at 2 p.m., I fell in with a group that had arrived 30 minutes earlier and hadn’t made any forward progress. But folks who arrived just a little later appeared to reach the counter in half that time. Assuming you can live with meat roulette, consider getting to Revelry around 3 o’clock.
It’s free. But more importantly, it’s a more absorbent napkin than the paper toweling available alongside the plastic forks (blasphemous by Texas standards, but fairly necessary for the slaw and potato salad.) Plus, when Lewis sets up permanent shop, he’s planning to upgrade his bread, so this is your last chance to partake in the hallowed Texas barbecue tradition of spongy industrial slices.
The sun is hot, the meat is salty. Revelry offers plenty of beers appropriate for barbecue, but you’ll have more fun if you don’t dehydrate.
If you’re eating barbecue in Texas, chances are you’re drinking Big Red. That’s not an option at Revelry, but you can cool your palate in similar fashion via the King of Pops stand.
Big Red looks for all the world like cherry soda, but looks (and Red Dye #40) can be deceiving. As professional Texan Joe Nick Patowski wrote in a 1986 issue of Texas Monthly, recalling his first Big Red experience, “It tasted red—not like the cherry, raspberry, or strawberry flavor I expected but something like liquid bubble-gum…It’s a flavor you can’t quite put your finger on, shrouded in mystery, sweet to the point of overkill, and addictive enough to make you crave another.” The mystery pretty much boils down to vanilla and citrus: King of Pops’ pineapple vanilla sounds similar notes.
While not ideal, brisket can withstand a little bit of travel. You might as well place a to-go order when you have the chance, and win points with pals who couldn’t make it.