We have a lot of respect in our Maui food community for luscious smoked meats, so barbecue – whether Southern, Hawaiian, or Asian style – is always welcome on the menu. Gary Timmons and Heather Gest of the Dope BBQ food truck know this, and have been serving up their popular BBQ plates and sandwiches on Maui for over a year now. I’ve been Instagram-following the progress of the Dope BBQ food truck since they opened, so when I recently tracked their cute trailer food truck down at the Maui Swap Meet, I got to learn a little more about their story and where to find them on the regular.
“I was a butcher for many years,” says Timmons. “I was working at Whole Foods in Tampa, and I wanted to move to Maui. I got the word from my boss in Tampa that he knew the manager at the Whole Foods Maui so I got all of the pieces together for the transfer. I did the smoker set there for a while – did a lot of smoke and briskets, and a lot of the same stuff I do here. I developed a knack and a love for it. I already did BBQ on my own personally.”
Timmons wanted to start a food truck, but really couldn’t find the components to make it happen.
“While I did the butcher thing, I wanted to start this business up but I couldn’t find all the pieces to the puzzle,” explains Timmons. “I couldn’t find the smoker, couldn’t find the trailer, all that stuff. My girlfriend, Heather, has family in Portland and it’s a big food cart area so we moved there for a year. In the process over there, we started the business, found the smoker, found the trailer, found all the pieces. We ran it over there for about 4 months but we just wanted to come back to Maui. We missed it here.”
So they packed up the smoker and trailer and came back to Maui.
“We had a little journey already,” says Timmons. “It was a little mission. When we came back we felt this is where we need to be. We ran Dope BBQ at the 76 Gas station on Wakea and Ka‘ahumanu Avenue, for a few months. That was our first location, and it was a day-to-day operation. We were just trying to find a spot, and find our way when we first got here. It was a good foot in the door kind of place. People saw us there. I still get feedback from people who say they saw us there.”
From there they found success at the town parties and community market events.
“So now we do events like the Friday parties: Wailuku and Kihei, right now,” says Timmons. “We are not doing the Lahaina one yet. The Maui Swap Meet is a weekly gig for us. We did Mayjah Rayjah last Friday; we are getting some special events. We might be at the MMA fight at War Memorial next week. We just celebrated one year open. We are also at the Maui Sunday Market. We’ve been doing that market almost since it opened. They just celebrated one year as well. That is a good market for us too.”
The Maui Swap Meet is their Saturday morning spot and that means a special breakfast menu.
“Maui Swap Meet is the only spot we do breakfast, so we do BLTs, or some kind of classic breakfast sandwich that you can walk around with,” says Timmons. “Breakfast burritos, croissant sandwiches, bacon, egg, and cheese. We finally found our good little niche breakfast menu a couple weeks ago and this is it. I have been playing with it a lot, different breakfast plates, trying this and that. But now I’m like, ‘OK I got breakfast down.’”
The Dope BBQ menu features five different meat offerings.
“Usually brisket, ribs, pork belly, pulled pork, chicken is my everyday thing,” says Timmons. “Lately, since Father’s Day, we do prime rib – not every Sunday, but like every other Sunday when I’m feeling inspired. Whenever the weather is right. This week I am doing some different style chicken wings, because I always do thighs smoked. I just try to keep switching it up because everybody doesn’t want to eat the same thing all the time. I don’t want to eat the same thing all the time. I gotta keep it fresh for myself and keep it exciting. We try to do a special on the menu also. Right now I have a brisket grilled cheese, this is the first time I am trying that. Last week we had a Cuban sandwich.”
Dope BBQ also has street corn – a corn on the cob smothered in a divine savory sauce and sprinkled in parm. As I devour the corn, one of their regulars at the Swap Meet chats me up while he waits for his order.
“Oh my gosh this is the best BBQ on island, it’s so good,” he says. “My wife and I sell t-shirts at a booth over there, and for lunch this is what we always hit up. Their sweet tea is to die for. I get the pulled pork plate. I love the pulled pork. Their H-Bomb sandwich is good too. My sister got that last week.”
I washed down the corn with an Arnold Palmer: half sweet tea, half homemade lemonade. The flavors were just right for the heat and the meat. Their sides of coleslaw, cornbread, beans, and pickles really round out the meal. Next time, I’m trying a sandwich.
“I want to start doing some more local meats: local pig, local deer,” says Timmons. “I just recently bought a bow, and I want to get into bow hunting with deer, I’m getting my license and stuff. It’s going good. We are super stoked.”
Dope BBQ Food Truck
Fridays @ Wailuku First Friday, and Kihei Fourth Friday Town Parties
Saturdays @ Maui Swap Meet Breakfast & Lunch Menu
Sunday @ Lahaina Gateway Sunday Arts and Craft Market 9am-2pm
Sunday @ Maui Sunday Market 4-8pm