It’s grilling season! But really, we’ll take a slab of barbecued seitan any day of the year. Despite the skeptics, plant-based pitmasters around the country have transformed this meat-heavy culture into one of inclusivity and compassion. Whether you’re in California, Idaho, or Texas, you can find a satisfying vegan meat to take you back to your hometown roots (but without the animal cruelty). For the most authentic, savory, and finger-licking-good vegan barbecue, seek out these seven phenomenal plant-based joints across the US. 


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1. Homegrown Smoker, Portland, OR
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Homegrown Smoker is the first vegan barbecue joint in the US. The restaurant has become famous for its vegan take on Kansas City-style ribs. The seitan-based cuts are smoked in an industrial-sized backyard smoker then finished with a sticky-sweet sauce. Gluten-free? Try the smoked soy curls. Complete the meaty meal with a side of collard greens, Macnocheese, coleslaw, beans, and/or cheesy grits. Wet wipes are highly recommended. 


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2. Southern Fried Vegan, Los Angeles, CA
You’re going to have to chase this vegan barbecue joint down if you want some good eatin’. This pop-up began in San Diego in 2007 but has since migrated to the greater Los Angeles area, serving up Southern-style comfort food amongst the city’s vibrant street food scene. Festival-goers have also spotted the SFV tent at Coachella seven years in a row! The menu includes a range of comforts from the BBQ ‘Steak’ Burger to Fried Chickun and an assortment of lip-smacking sides. You’ll definitely go back for seconds. 


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3. Brother’s BBQ, Denver, CO
This longstanding barbecue joint isn’t all vegan, but it makes a concerted effort to appease its plant-based patrons. Since opening the first of its seven Denver locations in 1998, the menu has expanded to include vegan eats from tofu to the Impossible Burger. Even the Vegan Southern Salad imbibes that sticky-sweet barbecue goodness with mixed greens, tomatoes, vegan croutons, and a whopping quarter pound of the joint’s signature barbecued tofu. 


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4. Compton Vegan, Los Angeles, CA
Get your fix for vegan ribs at this LA pop-up, served alongside baked beans, collard greens, and mac and cheese. While not exactly a raw kale salad, the food at Compton Vegan is designed to provide the community with healthier alternatives to familiar food. So dig into those Vegan Ribz and save the smoothie for another day. 


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5. BBQ4LIFE, Boise, ID
Idaho may not be the first place to look for vegan eats, but this food-truck-turned-brick-and-mortar has given us a reason to consider this state for its vegan-friendly options. Omnivores and vegans alike can chow down in harmony thanks to the plentiful plant-based items, including the Smoked Tempeh Sandwich and the Vegan Foot—a monster of a sandwich made with thick-cut grilled Hawaiian bread, smoked tempeh, mac and cheese, and the joint’s signature MFT Chocolate Raspberry BBQ Sauce. The Vegaloaf is a similar offering but swaps the mac and cheese filling for potato salad. Why separate your meat and sides when you can eat it all in one bite? 


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6. BBQ Revolution, Austin, TX
There’s nothing like Texas barbecue, and Blake Newman found a way to veganize this Lone Star State tradition. Catch his popup roaming throughout Austin for its mouthwatering plates and substantial sandwiches. Protein choices include gluten-free Smokey Curls and Tempeh Ribs (made with Austin’s own tempeh from The Flying Tempeh Brothers), and the sides are everything you would expect from a classic barbecue joint—mac and cheese, white bread, pickles, potato salad, coleslaw … you get the idea. Order the epic BBQ Combo Platter to get one of everything! 


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7. Monk’s Meats, Brooklyn, NY
City slickers can now get a taste of authentic (plant-based) barbecue at Smorgasburg NYC, thanks to this vegan butcher shop and deli. You’ll find a variety of barbecue styles at this pop-up from North Carolina’s vinegar-based sauce on an oyster mushroom sandwich to the much-loved Kansas City sweet sauce. Regardless of what you order, one thing is certain—you’re going to need a napkin.   


Jarone Ashkenazi is a freelance writer who has been vegan since January 2013 and covers travel, food, and luxury items

Photo credit: Homegrown Smoker

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