Chef Kent Rathbun has launched a weekend barbecue pop-up called Rathbun’s Curbside BBQ that’s really, really good

Looking for really good barbecue that soars beyond the usual trinity of brisket, ribs and sausage? Kent Rathbun, the chef who created the original Abacus, Hickory and Imoto restaurants, has broadened his interests to include those smoked meats plus a whole lot more that you’re gonna like a lot.

For his latest project, Rathbun’s Curbside BBQ, Rathbun cooks everything in a trio of wood-fired smokers that he and his team set up at weekend pop-ups and at private catering events. At the pop-ups, you order the ‘cue by the pound or by the plate, either on-site or in advance through Curbside’s website.

The offerings push well beyond a traditional backyard cookout. In addition to slow-smoked brisket, ribs, sausages and whole chickens, the oak and hickory-fueled pits turn out exceptional lamb chops, tomahawk rib-eyes, thick-cut pork chops and, if you time your visit just right, lobsters, cedar-planked redfish and Verlasso salmon.

“Calling it a curbside barbecue is a huge understatement,” said Rathbun, who created Abacus restaurant and now co-owns the restaurants Shinsei, Lovers Seafood and Imoto. “We’re chefs, so of course we also make all the sauces, rubs and pickles, just like we do at the restaurant.” The mobile operation splits its time between private catering events and pop-ups.

Each Saturday afternoon, Rathbun and his team anchor their mobile operation in a dedicated parking lot at Luther Lane and the Tollway. On the third Friday of each month, the smoking and grilling move to Maplewood Social Club.

“At both places, we run the whole thing like a block party, so there’s music, barbecue and a lot of fun.” Customers typically place their orders in advance online, then stop by to pick up their food.  

Rathbun said he and his team cook plenty to accommodate walk-up business, too, but the online orders help him better anticipate demand. “It’s gotten crazy since we’ve started to come out of quarantine,” Rathbun said. “Sales have absolutely exploded. It may look like the Three Stooges out here, but we know how to cook and we know how to have fun.”

An even better version of this story appears in the October issue of 360 West Magazine, Fort Worth’s award-winning monthly publication.