From the yard to the Caja Chinas restaurants Miami has long been in love with a good barbecue.
But these days, some of the hottest smoked meats in town come from a pop-up window with a pedigree.
You’ll find it on a one-way street in the North Miami-Dade residential area, where simple installation attracts tough barbecue fans at the year-old Drinking Pig BBQ restaurant. The pop-up window is among the last on the streets of Miami. With Kyu executive chef Raheem Sealey and his wife, former kyu chef Yohanir Sandoval, and former Kyu sous chef, Mark Wint.
The Drinking Pig BBQ launched last July as an unusual front yard at the height of a coronavirus pandemic. Like most COVID-19 success stories, the company was born out of boredom, creativity and – in this case – a love of smoked meat. On weekends, the triple pit crew offers chest, pulled pork, chicken, sausage and pork, as well as plus sides such as mac and cheese, cornbread and collard greens.
Sealey says New Times it began with a trip to Austin, Texas, where he was fascinated by the flavors and textures that Texas chefs were able to create with their own unique smoking method.
“During the pandemic, we only picked up a few days a week in Kyu,” he says. “I thought it was a good time to do something of my own. One day I was on the line and asked Mark [Wint] if he wanted to start grilling with me. “
Mark Wint, founder of Drinking Pig BBQ, downloads the smoker’s meat of the day.
Photo: Nicole Danna
A week later, the duo found a smoker, and it wasn’t long before he smoked in Wint’s front yard. Meals are served to friends and family, and – after a little cheering – to guests who were lucky enough to find them on social media or word of mouth.
The start for the smoker and a few tables alone is now a semi-permanent open-air restaurant that runs from Friday to Sunday from noon until the end. Over the past year, the business has grown steadily and built up to 100 orders a day from 60 customers over the weekend.
The trio says they used their common cultural roots to bring the Drinking Pig menu’s unique Southern Florida flare of Wint’s Jamaican legacy to Sandoval’s Venezuelan touch. The name of the pop-up comes from a beer-drinking pig that hung on Mt. Pellier Hut Domino Club Sealy’s home in St. Croix.
“As a kid, I remember my grandfather pouring Heineken beer on top of a pig he brewed,” Sealey recalls. “I asked him, ‘Wouldn’t it be better to fry one of the pigs.’ drinks beer?’ That childhood memory came to my grandfather and pig’s mind as we thought of names.
Sealey, who is now an experienced chef, emphasizes that every element of Drinking Pig is a team effort. The process begins in the middle of the week when deliveries are made. The meats are cut, cut and prepared by hand. The pages are made from scratch using only fresh ingredients.
“We use the same slow and slow technology you’ll find everywhere else, but we changed it to the taste we remember growing up,” Sealey says.
It starts with a breast, chicken pieces and pork, all seasoned with Caribbean spices, but which are most toning for fresh thyme and aromatic soffit. It is in salt water for 24 hours before hitting the smoker, the meat becomes moist and seasoned with great taste, the edges are tinted with red-pink smoke color – the hallmark of a slowly cooked grill.
Drinking Pig BBQ is a family business founded by founder Mark Wint in the front yard of a Miami home.
Photo by Nicole Danna
The star of the show can be a homemade sausage, a combination of fresh minced pork, short ribs and bacon, seasoned with a mixture of spices that chefs don’t reveal. It basically offers pop on the first bite, a casing that gives room for moist, tasty meat with just a touch of the heat of pepper.
The pages of the beverage case are equally well executed. Collard greens are rich and salty, cooked in a stock made of smoked chicken bones. The beans are sweet and stew-like, soaked before cooking in a pot with herbs, aromatic substances and leftover sternum and short ribs. Coleslaw is a light and tart, a secret spice blend of drinking water.
However, the first product to be sold is not meat. It is Yohanir Sandoval’s cornbread.
Sealey says he named his wife the “queen of cornbread.” Her two-day process creates a cake-like treat. Packed with texture and flavor, a simple combination of freshly cut corn, burnt butter, honey and sea salt produces a sweet and savory extract from a classic barbecue capsule.
Currently, activities are driven by social media. At least for now, a Drinking Pig Instagram account is the only way to contact chefs who use their cell phone every weekend at 845 NE 151. St. Place an order through DM or you may appear too late for the game.
Eventually, says Sealey, they will open a permanent location and expand the menu. So far, this weekend’s pop-up is exactly how the Miami grill should be: homemade, outdoors, and part of the neighborhood.
Drinking BBQ. 845 NE 151. St., Miami; instagram.com/drinkingpigbbq. From Friday to Sunday until noon.
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