Uttering the word "vegan" will get you tossed out of most Southern barbecue joints. And gnawing on a pork rib in a leather jacket is the quickest way to get a vegan riled up. But MFT BBQ and Vegan Food has dared to unite these two warring culinary camps under one roof.
MFT recently made the leap from food truck to brick and mortar. Situated in the awesomely dated diner space next to Jo's Sunshine Lounge on Curtis Road, MFT's sprawling booths are upholstered in a mustard-yellow-and-pink rose pattern, and wood paneling lines the walls. If you've been looking to live out some strange David Lynch fantasy, this spot should do the trick.
On a recent lunch visit, the only sounds in the restaurant came from the low clank of pots in the kitchen and the rhythmic breathing of a man on an oxygen machine a few tables over. My date and I inadvertently lowered our voices to a whisper. But once a glistening half rack of pork ribs ($10) arrived, there wasn't much talking to do anyway.
The ribs were ample, tender and mildly smoked on pecan wood. Slathered in a sweet, brownish-red barbecue sauce, the rib meat fell off the bone with a light, toothy tug. It's some of the best barbecue I've had in Boise.
MFT makes and bottles its own sauces--mild, medium, hot and extra hot--but they'll coat your ribs in medium if you don't specify otherwise. I found the hot to be a more balanced sauce, counteracting the mild's sticky sweetness. But I stayed away from the extra hot, made with tongue-slaying ghost chilies.
The tri-tip was also moist and tender, but under-seasoned. I went with the tri-tip tacos ($6) instead of the sandwich ($6), which was probably a mistake. The tacos consisted of three dry corn tortillas heaped with meat, a squirt of barbecue sauce and a few flecks of raw onions and cilantro. They were edible, but underwhelming.
Most of MFT's sides are vegan, which includes a mediocre spicy cole slaw ($2) flecked with red cabbage and carrot shavings ($2), and a much better cubed butternut squash ($2) coated in a spicy, syrupy glaze and sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts. The mac and cheese ($2) wasn't vegan, but it might have been better if it was. The elbow macaroni tasted like it had been tossed with shredded cheddar and left in a chafing pan for a few hours. The most interesting side I sampled was the vegan potato salad ($2). Made with red and yellow spuds, the dish got a healthy dose of creaminess from Vegenaise and flavor from green onions, black olives, Dijon mustard and white pepper.
MFT also offers a smoked tempeh sandwich ($6), which I'm psyched to sample on a future visit. Plus, you can order a single rib on the side ($3 each) so soy and pork can finally make peace in your belly.