My PCP is going to hate this post.
I love barbecue, or BBQ or Bar-B-Q or whatever you want to call it. This isn’t going to be a blog about what you think the “real” definition of barbecue is (wet/dry, smoke/no smoke, slow & low/fast & hot, sauce/no sauce, charcoal/gas, grill/pit)… the purists all claim to be right, and the term can be applied to the meat (or veggies I guess), the cooking, the spices, the sauce, or the gathering. If you want to argue/learn about the differences, check out Wikipedia.
Since I’m just a fan of barbecue, not a professional BBQ cook, and live in Pittsburgh not the south*… I won’t take a stand on the issue. I like all varieties. (Although, would chipped ham barbecue be “Pittsburgh Style” BBQ? I’d support that.)
I was inspired to write about BBQ today because I recently had an excellent dinner form the Pittsburgh Barbecue Company. It reminded me of my three favorite barbecue joints. I was just wondering what other people thought of them, and what other awesome local BBQ joints might not be on my radar.
Tagline: “We think of you when we pull our pork!” – I swear this place used to be called Brentwood Express or have it in the name somewhere… but now the site’s commercial strictly says “Rowdy BBQ”, so we’ll go with that.
At any rate, this is my favorite barbecue sauce. I love this stuff! It’s a sweet yet spicy sauce. They have a killer menu with all kinds of fun things like “The Big Pig”, “The Whole Hog”, and the “Knuckle Sandwich”. I usually get the ribs/chicken combo with some fries and eat just enough to make myself almost sick. The ribs are always cooked perfectly, sometimes the chicken is dry, but not “ooh I can’t eat this” dry. The fries are awesome, and this is the only place out of my 3 favorites that even has fries. (They used to have excellent pierogies, but I don’t think they’re on the menu anymore.) I’ve had the Big Pig & the brisket sandwiches, they are awesome. I want to try the cheese steaks, but at pulled to the BBQ offerings every time I’m there. I want to buy the sauce to bring home, but then I won’t have an excuse to go there. The parking lot is chaos, and you’re eating about 5 feet away from the traffic on Rte. 51 when you’re on the one site… but I can never wait to get home to eat, gotta eat it there! (And, I’d miss the rowdy rooster!)
Pittsburgh Barbecue Company
Tagline: “That place on Banksville…” – This place is the closest to home for me, and is pretty damn tasty BBQ. The sauce is a little more tangy than sweet. I go for the brisket or pulled pork here more often than the ribs… but the ribs & chicken are damn good. I like their mac n’ cheese. It’s got a tasty homemade feel. They have a pretty minimalist menu, but I really like that. They know what they do, and they do it well. My wife Bethany loves their baked apples side. The cornbread is excellent too. They seem to be a little expensive here, but again, it’s worth it. You definitely get what you pay for… the meat portions on the sandwiches are huge.
The sauce is nice & peppery. I get a spicy tingle every time we dine here. There’s also a nice outside dining area, and although sparse like Rowdy BBQ, you’re not eating amid exhaust like you are on Rte. 51. It’s got a nice little log cabin/shack feel inside. They also tout a bunch of “#1’s” on their site, most recent being Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Best in the ‘Burgh 2010”. This place is no secret, even if it is hiding back off of the main road.
Tagline: “Home of the nice racks, big breasts, juicy thighs, and warm buns! ” – This one is way out there, but really worth the drive. They have an excellent tangy sauce… I can taste the vinegar in it, but it blends well with the overall flavor. The best part about Clem’s is that hands down the meat is always falling off the bone on the ribs… and always always juicy with the chicken. I like the mac & cheese here, and the ability to get the Boylan’s root beer or birch beer.
The dining facilities are great, it’s always a nice place to sit & eat. They have a concise menu, again not too much, you know exactly why you’re there… for the BBQ!
[I need a YouTube video for these guys!]
Which Pittsburgh (or SWPA) BBQ place is your favorite? I’d love to do a blind taste-test of all their sauces some time.
So, where else should I try? My #1 criteria in finding a cool new BBQ place is that they don’t have shrimp (or any other shellfish) on the menu… like Rib Cage BBQ. I like the BBQ places because of the limited menu & no chance of cross-contamination. It’s nice to be able to completely relax at an eating establishment.
I would love to be able to get some turkey at a BBQ place though… either deep-fried & topped with some sauce… or in a pulled-pork style or brisket-style sandwich… or turkey legs. Man, I love turkey legs.
So, flood me with commentary!
*There are a number of people around here that do indeed think we are a southern state… “Pennsyltucky” and all…