Since opening a food truck in Mount Vernon, Missouri, in mid-April, Hog Tide Bar-B-Que has sold out every day.

That’s been the theme of Drew McNatt's success story.

McNatt owns both the Hog Tide food truck and restaurant in nearby Aurora, and has legions of barbecue-loving followers. It’s no surprise, given he holds a world title for his brisket. McNatt’s brisket snagged first place at the American Royal, the granddaddy of all barbecue competitions.

“The American Royal is a world title; it is the World Series of barbecue,” he says. “More teams compete at it than any other barbecue competition in the world.” 

McNatt holds a slew of other titles and grand championships, and has received four invitations to the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational. “At Jack Daniels, one team represents an entire state. You have to be invited to Jack Daniels. We’ve placed third and fourth in different categories,” he says.

McNatt began to professionally compete in 2006, initially tinkering with his grandfather’s barbecue recipe. In the 1930s, his grandfather owned a restaurant in Monett, which closed when he went off to World War II. Yet his recipe stayed in the family.

When McNatt first started competing, he worked for Walmart corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. He was quickly successful and would take off on Fridays to test his smoking skills in the competition circuit. “From there, it boomed into 35 to 40 contests a year, going across the country,” he says. “It was insane. It kind of burned me out. I had no life.” 

As he approached his 40th birthday, McNatt decided it was time to open his own joint. In 2016, he launched a food truck in Aurora, where his family has roots. “I wanted to get Aurora back on the map as a destination,” he says. “I knew we had the product; it was just about finding a place.” 

Soon, McNatt was attracting diners from all over the region. Customers would line up for an hour before the food truck opened, and the truck usually sold out of food within 90 minutes. It was clear he needed a brick-and-mortar location, so he opened one in May 2017.

Since then, McNatt moved the food truck to a different location each summer. This year, he decided to set up in Mount Vernon because so many of his customers came from the area. The truck is parked between Dr. Williams Clinic and Hometown Pharmacy at 606 E. Mount Vernon Blvd., and McNatt believes he’s the only food truck in town. “We thought it would be great for locals but it also catches the interstate traffic,” McNatt says. “We cook all the food in Aurora to make sure it’s the same quality I expect. We basically take it over in hot boxes to the food truck. It’s only a 15-minute drive, so [it's] not a big deal.” 

Brisket and burnt ends are Hog Tide's best-sellers, but you should plan to arrive early before they sell out.

Hog Tide Bar-B-Que, hogtidebbq.com

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Juliana Goodwin lives in Springfield, Mo., but loves to explore the Ozarks and write about it for Feast Magazine.

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