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.

Rowdy BBQ

Rowdy BBQ

Rowdy BBQ
Brentwood Express Rowdy BBQ on UrbanspoonTagline: “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!)

Check ’em out on the web: Website | Facebook 1 | Facebook 2 | Urbanspoon

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company
Pittsburgh Barbecue Company on UrbanspoonTagline: “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.

Check ’em out on the web: Website | Facebook | Twitter | UrbanSpoon

Clem's Cafe

Clem's Cafe

Clem’s Cafe
Clem's Cafe (Hardwood Barbecue) on UrbanspoonTagline: “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!]

Check ’em out on the web: Website | Facebook | UrbanSpoon

Which Pittsburgh (or SWPA) BBQ place is your favorite?  I’d love to do a blind taste-test of all their sauces some time.

There are other places I have in mind that I’d like to try, like The Flame BBQ, Two Brothers Bar-B-Q, & No Bull Bar-B-Q. Anyone been to any of those? Thoughts?

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…

13 thoughts on “OMG. WTF? BBQ!

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  2. Just went to Pgh. BBQ in Delmont – terrible! Fatty, fatty ribs! Clem’s in Blairsville runs circles around these folks. Try Chef Robinson’s in Jeannette (old Park Diner on Rt. 30). Good ribs & chicken, GREAT pulled pork! Baby Pulled Pork Sliders are to die for!! NO SHELLFISH! They do have a nice blackened salmon salad w/ rasp vinegrette & fried cod n catfish. Sides are all excellent and a friend makes all their desserts – YUM!! Been there 4x in 2 weeks and still can’t wait to go back!


    • I’ll have to try that out! Haven’t been to the PghBBQ in Delmont yet, but the one here on Banskville is fantastic.

      No shellfish huh? Sounds perfect for me! Have a link to an online menu or anything?

      We’re not out on 30 in Jeanette all that much, but I do know right where that is. Perhaps we’ll make a special trip!


    • Um, I just looked for them on UrbanSpoon, and did a look at their menu

      Surf and Turf – Our Signature 6 ounce grilled Sirloin* and 5 breaded and golden fried shrimp served with two
      sides 16.99
      Fried Shrimp – 8 Large gulf coast shrimp breaded and fried to a golden brown, served with a generous portion of
      our homemade cocktail sauce and two sides 13.99

      So, while it’s just in the fryer… I’ll have to make a call ahead to see if it’ll be OK to visit.


  3. Clem’s is downright awful, and just about everyone I know agrees. I think the best description of the chicken was: The chicken texture was if it was boiled, and then they cover it in enough sauce to make your plate look like you had ordered soup. I have had their pulled pork at a couple of local festivals, and it was ok. I just can’t get past the rubbery chicken, and we won’t be going back again.

    Chef Robinson’s is really good… very different spices and flavors going on (cinnamon and smoked turkey) in the beans I think? But we love it. Pulled pork sandwich is a must. Lots of things on the menu to please just about anyone.

    Pittsburgh BBQ… Absolutely wonderful. We’ve been to the one in Delmont 3 times now, and to the one on Banksville twice. Fantastic ribs just falling off the bone, corn bread to die for, amazing pulled pork, beans are perfect… I will say that the rub on the chicken was a bit too spicy for my taste, but I did like the flavor, and the chicken leftovers were amazing the next day.

    Another great place to go for BBQ is Two Brothers. Again, different flavor set than the others but fantastic in it’s own right (Carolina style vs. Memphis style). Last week we actually determined that we like Two Brothers’ sauce on the Pitt-BBQ ribs. Our friends like the less-sweet beans from Two Brothers, while we prefer the sweeter beans from Pitt-BBQ. Overall I am starting to think that we are just BBQ junkies!


    • Really? I love Clem’s. They cook the meat & keep it juicy! PghBBQ is awesome too though… I have heard complaints about how they cut the ribs… does seem different.

      Two Brothers is off of my list, they have shellfish. Blah.


  4. For ribs, you can’t beat Wilson’s, located on the corner of Buena Vista and Taylor on the North Side (Mexican War Street area). Best ribs and sauce in the city. For brisket and pulled pork, Pittsburgh bbq Co. is tops.


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  8. For the record, you aren’t missing anything by not going to the Rib Cage! It’s unfortunate, since that’s like 10-15 minutes from my house, but their sauce was the worst I’ve had anywhere. I tried pork chops – which were very thick and good and cooked nicely, but the sauce ruined them. It tasted like they took a can of tomato paste and stirred in some chili powder and BBQ seasoning. They’ve been around a little while so I guess somebody’s still eating there, but I haven’t been back since the first time, probably three or four years ago.


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