Pop-Up BBQ Puts a Seattle Twist on Barbecue

March 29, 2013

by Teya Vitu

Redman Jarrell is preparing a pulled pork sandwich at Pop-Up BBQ

Redman Jarrell is preparing a pulled pork sandwich at Pop-Up BBQ

Seattle BBQ?

Even Redman Jarrell wonders about it.

“I don’t know if there’s even such a thing as Seattle BBQ,” Jarrell said.

That has not stopped this Seattle native from putting a Seattle twist on a cuisine much more attached to Texas, Kansas City, Tennessee and North Carolina. You can try it at Pop-Up BBQ, the lunch-time incarnation at V Modern Thai, 9 E. Congress St. There is also an entrance on Stone Avenue.

“I have a coffee sauce. It leans toward the sweeter side,” Jarrell said. “There’s just a hint of Tully’s Coffee from Seattle. I use applewood smoke. I have a smoker outside. It takes 12 hours.”

Makes sense. Coffee does equal Seattle and just about every apple seems to come from Washington. Voilà, Seattle BBQ.

Jarrell crafted his own coffee-based barbecue sauce. The potato salad, beans and coleslaw are also original recipes from Jarrell’s mental pantry.

Redman Jarrell is finishing off some barbecued ribs.

Redman Jarrell is finishing off some barbecued ribs.

“The potato salad has a Pacific Rim influence with a hint of sriracha. It’s made with rice vinegar. It’s based on my father’s recipe,” Jarrell said. “The coleslaw has celery seed and a touch of cinnamon. It has a bit of sweetness.”

Jarrell dresses the beans with three divine food groups: brown sugar, red wine and bacon.

Pop-Up BBQ offers pulled pork or pulled chicken sandwiches. Sides can be added à la carte. Pork ribs or a quarter chicken come with rice and beans.

Redman and Vila Jarrell opened V Fine Thai Dining in Downtown in May 2011 after operating Vila Thai on University Boulevard since they arrived in Tucson in 2006. They offered lunch and dinner Downtown but stopped lunch in 2012.

“Lunches are kind of slow for us,” he said. “When we’d be busy for only one hour, it made no sense.”

Redman pondered what else he could do with the V Fine Thai space during the day.

“I just thought to myself what do I miss most about Seattle,” Jarrell said. “When I worked downtown at Amazon, there was a little barbecue restaurant called Hole in the Wall. His concept was lunch only. As soon as he sold out, he closed. The propriety had his own sauce called Bushwacker. It’s coffee.”

Pop-Up BBQ is open from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – or until the barbecue sells out. Two chalkboard sandwich boards on the sidewalk announce Pop-Up BBQ.

“The reason it’s ‘pop-up’ is it’s a restaurant within a restaurant,” Jarrell said.

Pop-Up Grill occupies the same space as V Fine Thai.

Pop-Up Grill occupies the same space as V Modern Thai.

V Modern Thai remains the main show in the evenings. Redman runs the kitchen at V Modern Thai and Vila works the room. Pop-Up BBQ is Redman’s project. Vila spends the daytime hours at her V Protein Smoothies and Juice Bar at the LA Fitness gyms in Marana and on Wilmot Road.

“It’s been a challenge with the (streetcar) construction but we’re still alive,” Jarrell said. “Most of our business is weekends when there’s a show.”

V Fine Thai is a sponsor of the Broadway in Tucson presentation of “Wicked.”

“We had a cast party last night,” he said on March 22.

Stay tuned to what the Jarrells do next at 9 E. Congress.

“Eventually, I see my two projects merging into one,” he said. “I already have a name for it: The Blind Tiger. There’s not really a Thai food scene in Tucson and I can cook so much more.”

Like Seattle BBQ.