Dry Rub Republic, the solution to California's lack of barbecue
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Bay Area Barbecue
Meet Nick, one of the owners of Dry Rub Republic, San Francisco’s newest barbecue pop-up. Each week, they bring their delicious barbecue & sides to hot spots across the city. On their menu is a selection of Texas-style barbeque including sausage, pulled pork, and the crown jewel of barbecue, brisket!
I ran into Nick at one of Dry Rub Republic’s popups at Noe Cafe. I overheard him chatting with a customer about the different styles of barbecue and immediately thought to myself, “This guy’s story would be great to share on TFM. I can hear the passion for barbecue in his voice!” So the next week, I met up with Nick & his fiancé to talk about the intricacies of barbecue and their plans for Dry Rub Republic. I’m excited about this new eatery and to share their food and story with you all. Let’s get to it!
🍖 The Food
The Crown Jewel of BBQ
If you haven’t had a good brisket before, then this is absolutely a must-try. And if you have, well then, you know that smoky and juicy taste 🤤. Because the whole process takes approximately 15 hours of constant care, the melt-in-your-mouth meat is the crown jewel of Texas barbecue! Smoking brisket is an intricate art and takes lots of skill and experience to master.
So, how exactly do you make brisket? Well first, you need one of these bad boys:
This is Dry Rub Republic’s custom-built smoker. Nick had it built in Texas, and then drove it all the way to San Francisco! Since Dry Rub Republic does not yet have a brick-and-mortar location, you may be wondering, “Where do they keep such a big smoker?” Well, the meat is cooked on Treasure Island, where they rent out a space to store and use the smoker. Surely, one of these would not fit in your SF apartment!
Each smoker has a section called the firebox, where the heat is produced. Traditional smokers use wood as a fuel source, but many modern at-home smokers, like Traeger, are pellet-based smokers.
The secret to cooking brisket is attention to detail. Every little component of the smoker has to be calibrated precisely. The head smokesman needs to take into account the type of wood used, the internal temperature, getting the heat to fill the cook chamber evenly, and even how the wood is stacked and ignited inside the firebox. As a result, smoking meat is a full-time commitment, because the smoker needs to be checked and adjusted several times an hour for 12-15 hours straight!
For Dry Rub Republic, smoking the meat begins a day before the scheduled pop-up. Starting around 7 pm on Treasure Island, Nick begins the lengthy process of making the brisket. Overall, this takes approximately 15 hours long, from start to finish - that’s longer than a normal workday! A few times each hour, Nick checks up on the brisket to ensure the process is running smoothly and that the meat’s quality is up to par. He continues doing this from sundown to sunrise, with very small breaks in between. When nighttime approaches, Nick spends his breaks taking short naps in his car to get whatever rest he can. The endurance of car naps and crappy sleep demonstrate Nick’s strong will and passion for barbecue.
Brisket cooked from sundown to sunrise. That’s some serious dedication!
Good BBQ, Good Sides
🍖 Brown Butter Cornbread, German Potato Salad, & Pork Ribs
📍 Dry Rub Republic - San Francisco
Most people joke that a BBQ place usually has good meat, or good sides, but never both. Dry Rub Republic is putting an end to that stigma. Their sides get just as much care as their BBQ.
DARLIN'S BROWN BUTTER CORNBREAD The Darlin’ invented this recipe and you’ll be hard-pressed to stop at one. They’re soft and fluffy, with a touch of sweetness in there too. A nice complement to the heavily-spiced bark on our meats.
Nick, who has worked in fine dining, knows how to give dishes that meticulous care that will make them stand out. For their brown butter cornbread, months were spent in research and development testing dozens of recipes using locally sourced ingredients. In my chat with Nick, he explained that even after each pop-up, they continue to make small tweaks to menu items, as he is always striving to serve the best quality dishes. This has certainly paid off as Dry Rub Republic has seen customers return to their pop-ups across the city for both their meat and sides.
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The story of Dry Rub Republic starts with Nick’s childhood. As a Texan growing up with a father from Argentina, he was surrounded by barbecue from a young age. Eventually, Nick moved to Washington D.C., where he worked various jobs in the fine dining industry. In fine dining, there is a large emphasis on attention to detail and improving processes, both things that Nick would later bring to Dry Rub Republic. On the weekends, Nick put these into practice when he often hosted barbecues for his friends and family to refine his BBQ while sharing his passion.
Nick shared with me that opening a barbecue restaurant had always been on his mind. When Nick and his fiancé moved to San Francisco during the pandemic, things started to seem imperfectly perfect for this dream. As most of us know, during the start of the pandemic, the restaurant industry was hit hardest. Layoff after layoff, Nick thought to himself, “If I’m not going to chase this dream now, then when am I going to do it?” And thus in November 2021, Dry Rub Republic was born.
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With things in San Francisco reopening, many are looking to go out for the first time since the pandemic started. This wave of people hanging out at cafés, breweries, and bars is the perfect opportunity for Dry Rub Republic to connect directly with tastebuds across San Francisco.
Having pop-ups, as Dry Rub Republic believes, is the way to get the word out about their food. Already, this strategy seems to be paying off! Noe Café, a bustling local coffee spot in Noe Valley, reached out to Dry Rub Republic, inviting them to do a monthly pop-up at their location.
Eventually, Nick & Dry Rub Republic hope to open a brick-and-mortar location, but for now, their pop-ups are the way to get their brand easily recognizable in the SF food scene. To see where they will be next and get some life-changing bbq, you can check out their events calendar or Instagram. Be sure to tell them I say hi!
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