Kevin's BBQ Joints

Kevin's BBQ Joints Blog

Kevin Pang – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 6

I just want to say I’ve been really lucky with the participants for ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’ so far. They’ve been an eclectic mix with each bringing unique BBQ joints to the table (see links at the bottom to see previous ‘My Favorite Joints’). I’m REALLY excited about this week’s contributor because I jealously watched as he traveled the South in search of great BBQ in late 2010.

This week is none other than Kevin Pang from The Chicago Tribune. He wears many hats. He is a contributor to the Chicago Tribune food blog, The Stew, which is described as “The Stew: It bubbles, it simmers and you never know what you’ll find in each serving. It’s an authoritative go-to source for news about food, beverages and dining out in the Chicago area by the food and dining staffs of the Chicago Tribune.”, he is The Cheap Eater, and he goes on food adventures from time to time, most notably his two BBQ Road Trips.

Here’s his list:

Smoque BBQ
Chicago, IL
Must get: St. Louis ribs, smoked chicken, Texas sausage
Smoque, arguably Chicago’s finest and most consistent BBQ establishment, has entered the national conversation of “100 Mile Barbecue.” That’s how far I would travel to dine here.

Photo of Smoque BBQ courtesy of Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Fette Sau BBQ
Brooklyn, NY
Must get: Smoked jowl, Berkshire Belly Bacon
The first time I came here, it took 45 minutes to grab a table. After tasting their smoked jowl (which I’d describe as amazing and fatty in the greatest sense), I wanted to jump to the back of the line and wait 45 minutes again.

Photo of Fette Sau courtesy of Nathan I. – Yelp


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Best Barbecue Ribs – St. Louis – “Hog Half-Dozen”

Everyone always mentions the big four BBQ regions (Texas, Memphis, North Carolina, and Kansas City), however they seem to forget home much amazing BBQ there is in Illinois and the greater St. Louis area. Thanks to Joe Hollerman and Evan S. Benn from the St. Louis Post Dispatch for their piece on St. Louis’ best barbecue ribs. It was a little while back (way back in 2009), but still holds true (note some of my photos are of BBQ that is ‘other than ribs’, but I feel it shows the spirit of each joints BBQ in general).

From the piece, “We looked at ribs — just ribs. Never mind the great slaw, tasty baked beans, savory fries and deep-fried corn. This was a bone hunt, and our six picks were judged solely on their ribs.” Here is their “Hog Half-Dozen”:

17th Street Bar & Grill – O’Fallen, IL

Photo of 17th Street Bar & Grill

C&K Barbecue #3 – St. Louis, MO

Photo of C & K Barbecue #3 courtesy of the St. Louis Post Dispatch

Their runner-up: Lil’ Mickey’s Memphis Barbeque – St. Peters, MO

Photo of Lil’ Mickey’s Memphis Barbeque courtesy of Pamela B. – Yelp

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Southern Hospitality BBQ – 2nd Location – Hell’s Kitchen, NYC

Southern Hospitality BBQ has opened it’s second New York location, this one in Hell’s Kitchen. The restaurant concept is very NYC. From their site, “Southern Hospitality takes on that philosophy and more. At Southern Hospitality BBQ, you’ll find everyone from Hollywood stars to locals, a menu of fine pulled pork sandwiches, baby back ribs, BBQ chicken, Southern fried catfish and many other southern favorites.”

From the Gothamist, “There is a giant antler chandelier (now we’ve seen everything), lyrics from the Million Dollar Quartet spelled out in rusty iron and neon lights, and nods to Memphis rock and roll sprinkled throughout. And in an attempt to reach beyond the backwards baseball cap set, co-owner Eytan Sugarman (and his partner Isiah Thomas) brought on wine guy Gary Vaynerchuk to curate a 50-varietal wine list to match the menu. (There are 50 varieties of bourbon, too.)”

As always, I’m dying to know if you’ve visited. Let me know what you had and how the overall ambience was. You can see them on facebook here and check out the joint itself here:

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BBQ Video – Lockhart Smokehouse – Daniel Vaughn – Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Daniel Vaughn from Full Custom Gospel BBQ is relentless when it comes to searching out and trying Texas BBQ Joints (actually BBQ joints in general as he has a number of ‘out of Texas’ joints that have been reviewed). He’s committed all the way and after hitting the 400 BBQ Joint mark in reviews, he’s become the modern day Cal Ripkin, Jr. of BBQ aficionados. If you don’t know the man, you can see his recent visit to
Lockhart Smokehouse in the video below (via Advocate Magazine).

If you don’t follow him or check his blog out weekly (if not more), you’re really missing out.

Photo of Lockhart Smoke from Daniel’s review here

Here’s how to see his work:

Full Custom Gospel BBQ
Follow him on twitter here
See him on facebook here

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Podnah’s Pit Barbecue – Portland, Oregon – Reopens in New/Larger Location

Podnah’s Pit Barbecue has moved it’s operation to a larger location on NE Killingsworth. That’s great news for owner and pitmaster Rodney Muirhead’s huge legion of fans. Here’s the note I got from them:

Dear Fellow BBQ Lovers,
We’re opening the doors while we put the finishing touches on the new place. Tuesday all-day rib and draft happy hour returns on Tuesday 2/22.
Our menu will be expanding over the next month and breakfast will be back in less than a month. In the meantime our hours are:
Tues – Thurs 11am -10pm
Fri – Sat 11am – 12am
Sun 11am – 10am

Photo courtesy of Portland Food Group

I’ve always loved their credo on their site.

While many things have changed since Rodney started barbecuing back in 2003, there’s one thing that will always stay the same–relying on the barbecue methods of the Lone Star state. For Rodney and the rest of the pit crew at Podnah’s this means:

-Getting up at 5:00 every morning to fire up the pit.
-Using honest oak hardwood in the firebox. His pit has never seen the likes of gas or electric heat of any kind.
-Using high quality, natural meats.
-Preparing the food fresh daily.
-Never precooking the meat. It’s all slow smoked right there in the pit.
-Only cooking as much meat as the smoker will comfortably hold, and that’s about 200 pounds a day.
-When the meat’s gone, it’s gone. Until tomorrow at lunch time that is.
-They love making honest, slow-smoked, Texas style barbecue for their patrons.
-And they love their patrons too. So much so that they even make Carolina style pulled-pork for them.

Please let me know if you get a chance to check out the new location and if you have any pics, please send them along.

Here’s the new location:

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BBQ Video – Hill Country Barbecue – New York, NY

A trip (BBQ or otherwsie) to New York really has to include Hill Country Barbecue. If you haven’t been, here’s a great video from Savory Cities that gives you a nice behind the scenes look as well as insight from Marc Glosserman.

Follow them on twitter here
See them on facebook here

Check out Hill Country Barbecue yourself here:

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Celtic Cowboy BBQ – New BBQ Joint – Edmonds, WA

Thanks to Lara Alexander from My Edmonds News for clueing me in to Celtic Cowboy BBQ which is opening today in Edmonds, Washington.

Photo of owner Steve Freeman

I got a chance to speak with owner Steve Freeman for a short while and realized really quickly that he loves great BBQ and takes this very seriously. He said they are using (5) different smokers from all across the country (one of which is a Southern Pride). From Lara’s piece, “Freeman smokes his brisket for 14 hours, after rubbing it down with his custom blend of 15 spices. The smoked brisket is then sliced and piled high on bread for a straight-forward sandwich. His house-made BBQ sauce is served on the side, so as not to steal the show”

Photo of Bone in Pork Shoulder

So if you’re in the area stop in today to meet Steve and get a sampling of his BBQ. Let me know what you think, but I have a good feeling you will not be disappointed. See the entire story here

Check it out yourself here:

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Union Woodshop – Clarkston, MI – 2011 Restaurant of the Year

if you’re not reading the work of Jim Shahin on a weekly basis you’re missing out, especially his work on BBQ. You have to love his latest piece on Detroit BBQ when he starts it off like this, “Something extraordinary has happened in the world of cuisine: The Detroit Free Press bestowed its 2011 Restaurant of the Year award to a barbecue eatery.”

They chose Union Woodshop as their best restaurant of the year. It’s not surprising with the amount of buzz it’s received for incredible BBQ cooked low and slow on a Southern Pride Smoker since opening. It probably doesn’t hurt to be connected to Kid Rock as well.

You can read Jim’s entire piece here. Let me know if you’ve been as I’m dying to hear more about it. They don’t have a website up yet, but you can check them out on facebook here

Try their BBQ out yourself here:

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Heath Hall – My Favorite BBQ Joints – Volume 5

If you love BBQ, you should know Pork Barrel BBQ. They are first off a BBQ Sauce and Rub Company (they are in over 1,000 stores across the country and really knock it out of the park on taste and consistency) started by Heath Hall and Brett Thompson (you can read their interesting story here), but are really becoming so much more. After appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank they have slowly become an amazing internet sucess story in their own right (they have over 3,200 facebook fans and almost 28,000 twitter followers) and are about to open their first BBQ joint (aptly named Pork Barrel BBQ) in Del Ray, Virginia next month. Oh, and they just started a BBQ Social Networking site called BBQ Backyard here. I am honored to have Heath from Pork Barrel BBQ as my contributor this week for this week’s ‘My Favorite BBQ Joints’.

Brett & Heath – Founders of Pork Barrel BBQ

Here are Heath’s picks:

Life is full of questions; some are fairly simple to answer while others are not so simple. Have you ever wondered why some questions that at first blush seem like they’d be simple to answer are actually the most difficult to answer? I’ve certainly wondered this on a number of occasions, but when I’m asked what my favorite BBQ joint is I know exactly why it’s not only difficult, but impossible for me to answer this apparently simple question. That answer is that there are too many great BBQ joints scattered through the cities and back roads of America (and a few in places you would never suspect the words “excellent” and “BBQ” would cross ones lips in the same sentence) to narrow ones answer down to a single favorite joint.

In my opinion, not being able to answer this question isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I think it is a good thing. Who among us doesn’t like options, and amazing options at that?

Unfortunately for those of you reading this, the first place I’m going to mention isn’t one you can just stop by for a casual lunch and belly up to the counter for a brisket sandwich or slab of ribs, but I’d be remiss if I failed to mention it. This place is where the BBQ seed was planted in me and would be fertilized time and again until it blossomed into a major part of my life. Were it not for the plates of mouthwatering BBQ coming off the smokers in Rex Hall’s backyard at all times of the year and in all meteorological conditions I’m certain my BBQ journey would have been different. From the Thanksgiving turkey to some of the moistest brisket that will ever hit your mouth, my Dad’s Backyard is where my exploration into the wonderful world of BBQ began. Thanks Dad!!!

Menu Recommendation – Brisket sandwich, slab of ribs and a side of my Mom’s baked beans!!!

I need to give my Dad another big than you for taking me to and introducing me to some of the finest BBQ joints our country has to offer when he wasn’t manning the grill or smoker in our backyard. These are the BBQ joints that I love and think you’ll love too!


The first BBQ joint I ever ate at was Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que in Sedalia, Missouri. Even if it wasn’t a special occasion it felt like it was every time I was treated to the smoky goodness of Dickie Doo’s ribs and baked beans as a kid. To this day Dickie Doo’s baked beans stand alone as the best I’ve ever eaten and are reason enough for me to drop in any time I’m in the area.

Photo of Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que

Menu Recommendation – Slab of ribs with a large side of baked beans and fries!!!

GATES BAR-B-Q – Kansas City, MO

My introduction to Kansas City’s plethora of legendary BBQ joints took place at Gates Bar-B-Q, a joint that’s been serving up some of the cities best ‘Cue since 1946. My recollection of my first trip to Gates many years ago is a scene of mass confusion and panic – a memory shared by countless when they make their inaugural trip to Gates. As my foot began to breach the door that first time, a chorus of people yelling, “HI, MAY I HELP YOU?” rang from within leaving me feeling dazed like a prize fighter who had been dealt a striking left hook just under my chin. After picking myself up and shaking the daze from my eyes I focused on the menu that hung overhead and welcomed me to a smorgasbord of BBQ delights to choose from.

My advice to first timers is to go for the Mixed Plate – on the menu it comes with brisket, ham, ribs, fries, white bread and pickles, but you can ask them to substitute the two meats with any of their meats including turkey and pork.  If you’re not quite that hungry go for a Beef on Bun Sandwich – you won’t be disappointed. You’ll also find some of the best sauce in the world of barbecue sauces at Gates – my favorite BBQ sauce (after my own of course) is Gates Extra Hot. If truth be told my years of eating Gates BBQ sauce contributed greatly to the flavor profile I used when creating the Pork Barrel BBQ line of sauces. 

Menu Recommendation – Mixed Plate with double beef and a side of baked beans!!!

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BBQ Video – Sweatman’s BBQ – Holly Hill, SC

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Sweatman’s BBQ in Holly Hill, South Carolina (seems a lot of people focus so much on North Carolina barbecue they forget about the amazing cue down south).

Here’s a great video of Sweatman’s from rtgreensc.

After seeing that video, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to stop by. I would love to know if you’ve visited Sweatman’s or have another favorite BBQ joint in South Carolina.

Photo courtesy of Pork and Whiskey

Find it here:

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