Some people like to paint with watercolors, some do handstands on a yoga mat. Others might debate philosophy at a hipster coffee joint.
For Brandon Mohon — outside of his 9-to-5 gig and raising his daughter with his wife — that creative outlet in his spare time is spent amid the smell of smoke and the seasoning of meat.
Mohon and his wife, Lisa, run Mohon Barbecue in Dallas. The meat is good, the dishes are creative and people drive from all around to taste the brisket, wherever the Mohons may be serving.
There’s no permanent brick-and-mortar home, so the business operates as a pop-up around town. And that’s just the way they want it.
“I don’t know how far I want to take it, even if it’s really successful,” Brandon Mohon says. “It’s extremely demanding, the lifestyle. You stay up all night, you get no sleep, you smell like a barbecue pit every day of your life … I think I make quality brisket, but I can’t do it at volume.”
He’s adopted the pop-up lifestyle about once a month because it feeds his creative outlet — one others can benefit from. And he's not the only part-time meat-slinger operating that way.
Mohon’s customers — loyal followers and new tasters alike — visited Oak Cliff Brewing Co. on Sept. 15 for some brisket and banh mi. While the brisket is pretty much a mainstay for these pop-ups, the banh mi was this month’s specialty, offering bacon burnt ends, julienne vegetables and Lisa Mohon’s house-made pickles.
“Everybody can go get brisket, ribs and sausage,” Brandon Mohon says. “I kind of wanted to start doing some creative things with the meats. Lisa adds the talent. She’s trained, so we have some chef capabilities there.”
Lisa Mohon professionally caters for events and has worked at Neiman Marcus and the Kessler Theater.
The brisket — available by the half-pound or pound in a sandwich — is done well. If the taste seems a bit familiar, it’s because Mohon has followed in the footsteps of Austin’s Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue.
“I was obsessive with [his] videos,” Mohon says, adding that he was eager when Franklin’s book, Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto, was released so he could stop navigating through a video for every detail.
The banh mi is promising. The bacon burnt ends were perfect for this Vietnamese sandwich, and those pickles were good enough to inhale by the handful. The only downside was the bread, which was on the verge of stale.
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But next time there’s a pop-up, the banh mi could return, or there could be another dish. It’s whatever this Oak Cliff duo feels like doing.
At the end of a pop-up, the profit means they’re working for about minimum wage, so it’s not just a creative outlet, but a true labor of love. At the Oak Cliff Brewing event, they sold out in two-and-a-half hours, making most of their sales in the first hour. (Hint: When you go to this pop-up, plan to arrive at its start.)
As of now, the next event isn’t yet scheduled.