New Street Food Options: Pulled Pork at Re-Up

Photo: Remy Scalza

Thanks to a loosening of municipal restrictions, Vancouver’s street food scene is suddenly blossoming.  Among the new players on the scene is Re-Up BBQ, a food cart serving pulled pork sandwiches that’s stationed in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.  Re-Up opened earlier this month and was greeted with rave reviews by diners and Vancouver Sun food critic Shelley Fralic.  I decided to check it out on a sunny afternoon earlier this week.

But let’s back up: What exactly is pulled pork?  A favorite in the U.S. South and Midwest, pulled pork is a massive chunk of hog that’s been slow-cooked, smoked and basted for hours – and sometimes days – on end.  The idea is that the meat becomes so moist and so tender that it can be pulled apart into juicy shreds.   Pulled pork in parts of the U.S. is taken very seriously, with fans divided into two bitterly opposed camps.   Southerners insist on a tangy, vinegar-based barbecue, while Midwesterners prefer a sweeter, tomato-based variety.

Photo: Remy Scalza

But back to Re-Up:  The operation itself – in find street food form – is refreshingly ghetto.  No fancy van.  No uniformed servers.  Sandwiches are assembled inside a tiny, unmarked silver trailer – no larger than a pair of phone booths.  (The actual roasting is done off-site, at the Irish Heather in Gastown).   On a weekday afternoon earlier this week, a line of about 20 people waited at the window.  Outside the trailer, a big bag of buns hung on the door and extra pork was packed inside of two chilled Coleman coolers, sweating in the sun.

Photo: Remy Scalza

As I neared the front of the line, I got a peek at the menu.  They keep it nice and simple.  Pulled pork sandwiches will set you back $6 plus HST.  To drink, there’s sweet tea (another Southern classic, made with lemon and a lot of sugar) and homemade sodas (both $2 plus HST).  And that’s it.  Inside the trailer, coowners Michael Kaisaris and Lindsay Ferguson were racing to keep up with demand.  Dancing around each other in the cramped space, they ladled pork on a pair of buns, topped it with coleslaw and applied a bit of some secret barbecue sauce.

So the big question:  How did it taste?  Well, Michael asked for my honest opinion, so here goes.  It’s good; but there’s room to get better.  Bun, slaw and sauce are all excellent – fresher, maybe even tastier, than what you’d get in a down-home barbecue joint in North Carolina.  But the pork – as juicy and flavorful as it is – just isn’t tender enough.   Good barbecue should literally fall apart into delicate morsels.  The sample I tried needed a bit more slow cookin’ to achieve pork perfection.

Photo: Remy Scalza

But Re-Up is off to a promising start and has already revolutionized Vancouver’s burgeoning street food scene.  Any other fans of Re-Up BBQ out there?  What do you think of their pulled pork?

Remy Scalza

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9 Responses to New Street Food Options: Pulled Pork at Re-Up

  1. Alex

    It wasn’t the best BBQ going around but I had no issue with tenderness at all. Cooking lower and slower doesn’t always yield better results either. Marbling of the butt, monitoring the temperatures throughout the cooking process as well as an accurate final temperature can have a greater impact I find. As far as the food cart in scene goes I still think the lottery was a major failure. Pizza, crepes and skewers carts are hardly going to launch a food cart revolution. The reaction to the better carts like RE-Up illustrate that point more than anything and best of luck to them.

    • Alex – Thanks for the insight into bbq and for pointing out what makes Re-Up unique and a bit more ambitious than the other vendors.

  2. michelle

    Look forward to trying it!

    There’s a vendor in Yaletown that needs some love – PanDa (“this is bread”) which does croissants and ice cream. I work down there and visited. Pretty good though they’ve had a rough start :)

  3. Chinese Skewer King is also open downtown at W.Hastings and Burrard.
    They are cooking up BBQ tofu,meats and vegetables with a toasted bun. Yum.

    A Japanese Crepe vendor is rumoured to be opening in the next week or so at Granville and Georgia.

    I’m hoping to make to Re-Up BBQ before they sell out tomorrow (attempt #3)

    • James – Thanks for the info on Chinese Skewer King and the link to – great resource.

  4. You’re welcome :)

    I’m off now to enjoy my 1st Re-Up sandwhich (fingers crossed)

  5. Lindsay

    I haven’t tried the sandwiches, but passing by this popular stall twice, my friend and I squinted at the sign, and said, ‘Pie up?” – it’s impossible to tell what that says (and what is a re up? at any rate, re up would be fine if we could read it!) Just a note to let them know that it makes it a lot harder to buzz about a business when you can’t figure out what it’s called!

  6. Pingback: New Street Food Options in Vancouver: Pulled Pork at Re-Up Barbecue | Independent Journalism

  7. The occupy vancouver movement is in court Today the 19th. Maybe go to court and let your voice be heard. The Occupy Movement is taking money out of your pocket.
    I support thier idea – not so much when they hurt the small businesses. Next time I am there – I will bring my husband for a pulled pork sandwich – it looks good.