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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Few Bound-to-Be-Contentious Recommendations for Seattle Barbecue

Posted by on Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Recommended: the Barbecue Pit!

Sometimes people email me for restaurant recommendations. I always answer, and Slog commenters always have good suggestions too. Don wrote a couple weeks ago...

Can you suggest, by chance, a barbecue service? The Swedish Club is looking into hiring a barbecue truck/expert/restaurant for July 4th, when it'll be open to public. It is the perfect spot to see the fireworks. I thought maybe—maybe—you might have some suggestions. Thanks.


Dear Don,

The Swedish Club! Its beautiful midcentury building! Its amazing Lake Union view! Its incredibly nice people! GO U.S.A.!!! You deserve Seattle's best barbecue for the Swedish Club Independence Day party, and I will now tell you exactly what Seattle's best barbecue is*:

• The barbecue made by the man pictured above—he is called Pookie—at his Central District barbecue spot, the Barbecue Pit.

• The barbecue at Bitterroot in Ballard, which is more new-fashioned and upscale, but great.

• The barbecue from the Maximus Minimus truck.

All other barbecue in Seattle is bad, wrong, and beneath consideration.*

God bless America and the Swedish Club,

* JK, everybody—JK!!! There's more great barbecue in Seattle than you can shake a proverbial stick at—well, at least there's more great barbecue than most people think, and most people have a very specific point of view on Seattle's (and the world's) barbecue situation. I expect and hope you will all yell about it in the comments. Here are all our recommended barbecue places—and I'd also like to add that my esteemed colleague Anna Minard really likes the new Bourbon & Bones in Frelard (I've only been there once when I was already too full to properly eat barbecue—sad).

I've emailed Don to see who's barbecuing at the Swedish Club for July 4th... UPDATE! Don says: "I think Smokin' Pete is our man. Thanks for all the other leads... I followed up on a few but many couldn't do it. Lushy is playing that night and of course best firework viewing... and parking!"


Comments (24) RSS

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For non-highfalutin Ballard bbq, Boar's Nest is really good. I love their pulled pork with their house made Carolina mustard sauce ... Now I'm totally craving some bbq ....
Posted by maeveh on June 3, 2014 at 12:44 PM · Report this
I just spent a week in Kansas City trying every world-class BBQ joint the city had to offer.

Regarding Seattle, for me the only place that is in the same league as the kings of K.C. is the Armadillo BBQ in Duvall.
Posted by CPN on June 3, 2014 at 12:46 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 4
@1 and 2,

Thirded. For my money, Boar's Nest is the best barbecue in the city. (Which, given the lackluster offerings around here, feels like damning with faint praise, but what can you do?)
Posted by keshmeshi on June 3, 2014 at 12:51 PM · Report this
Boar's Nest is quite good.

Bourbon and Bones once tried to sell me a half rack of ribs for $50.
Posted by derpyderpington on June 3, 2014 at 12:55 PM · Report this
Cracker Jack 6
How are Pecos Pit and Hole in the Wall not on that list?
Posted by Cracker Jack on June 3, 2014 at 12:56 PM · Report this
JonnoN 7
Pecos Pecos Pecos!
Posted by JonnoN on June 3, 2014 at 1:00 PM · Report this
Just confirmed that Cave Man in Kent is back and open for business (after a fire).

The General also serves up a delicious pound of ribs, if you want to play Frank Underwood to their Freddy Hayes.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on June 3, 2014 at 1:14 PM · Report this
Queen of Sleaze 9
The best BBQ is actually at my house. I've eaten at many establishments in and around Seattle and nothing holds a candle. I hope that he gets the capital to open his own joint at some point because the general public deserves to consume it.
Posted by Queen of Sleaze on June 3, 2014 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Queen of Sleaze 10
My SO that is... The creator of the BBQ which I eat at my home :)
Posted by Queen of Sleaze on June 3, 2014 at 1:20 PM · Report this
The Barbecue Pit really does have superior ribs. They have a nice sweet smoke that is less harsh than others, but still assertive. Maybe because his firebox is further from his meat than most smokers? Anyway, the meat isn't mushy or slimy like many do them. Ribs should be "pull off the bone" not "fall off the bone". My only critique is that I don't love his sauce. Ask for it on the side, then make up your own mind.

Bitteroot has a great non-divey atmosphere, nice enough that you could actually take a date there. Avoid their ribs. Dried out, and not meaty enough. But they make up for the ribs with superior brisket and really good sides.
Posted by ohthetrees on June 3, 2014 at 1:31 PM · Report this
I'm hopeful that Jack's BBQ will blow them all out of the water:…
Posted by TH3ARCHIT3CT http:// on June 3, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
Collin 13

If you go to their truck, they will tell you that they do not have BBQ. They admit that in interviews with the media:…

Its tasty. It's got BBQ sauce. It ain't BBQ.
Posted by Collin on June 3, 2014 at 1:45 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 15
Mike's BBQ in White Center.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on June 3, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
sperifera 16
Really, Bailo? Cave Man? It was actually decent back in the '80's, but now that it's (seemingly) run by (seemingly) meth-heads it sucks the big one. Their sauce has always been just one step up from ketchup, and the ribs are far from tender, fall-off-the-bone.

Try Celtic Cowboy up in Lynnwood. He uses Painted Hills boeuf, and the burnt ends are sublime and melt-in-your-mouth.
Posted by sperifera on June 3, 2014 at 2:58 PM · Report this
Cask and Trotter in South Lake Union!!! BEYOND awesome. Also, a smaller mobile called Campfire run by Stefan and Julie Giles. Both of these are a MUST try. Cheers!
Posted by Tum on June 3, 2014 at 3:20 PM · Report this
JonnoN 18
Oh, how could I forget Jones BBQ
Posted by JonnoN on June 3, 2014 at 3:24 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 19
There is no good BBQ in Seattle.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it's the simple truth. There are some places that manage to make decent BBQ sandwiches, but that's primarily because they camouflage the meat with excessive sauce.

Admittedly, I'm biased. I grew up as a member of a Central Texas family, and Central Texas is one of the great BBQ regions (if not the greatest). Having tasted real BBQ, I just can't abide the pitiable attempts found here in the PNW.

And while I haven't tried every single BBQ joint in the region, I have tried most listed in Kelly's blog entry and the comments here. I have essentially relinquished all hope for decent BBQ in or near the Emerald City. Every time I relent and try another new place, I leave disappointed.

My suggestion for anyone seeking good BBQ in Seattle: Give up. Eat things that Seattle knows how to produce. There is no authentic BBQ culture here.
Posted by kitschnsync on June 3, 2014 at 3:29 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 20
Oops! BJC wrote this, not Kelly O.

My apologies, Bethany.
Posted by kitschnsync on June 3, 2014 at 3:42 PM · Report this
pg13 21
I don't care about "authentic BBQ culture". I like tender meats covered in ketchuppy sauce. Call me a heathen if you like...but a combo plate of chicken and brisket at Manna's hits the spot. As does the chicken at Boar's Nest.

And I like the Kentucky 5 County Dipped Cue at Kickin' Boot., Ballard (extended out to Greenwood) is doing quite well by MY standards.
Posted by pg13 on June 3, 2014 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Jeffo 22
Manna's beef ribs remind me of when I lived in central Texas. I get them dry, with some sauce on the side. Smoky, tender and beefy. Beef ribs are the best!

Also, Chuck's Hole in the Wall is not "pitiable". It is totally legit bbq, Texas or otherwise.

When I want that Texas bbq fix, those are the two places I hit up.

Personally, I had some pretty poor brisket at Bitterroot.
Posted by Jeffo on June 3, 2014 at 5:13 PM · Report this
How is Kickin' Boot not on this list? BBQ and whiskey? Yes, please.
Posted by no catchy name on June 3, 2014 at 8:01 PM · Report this
kitschnsync 25
@22 & 23, Maybe I was a bit harsh with my word choice.

I'll be in North Seattle soon to house-sit for a couple of weeks. I'll be sure to try Manna's. I've got my fingers crossed.
Posted by kitschnsync on June 4, 2014 at 11:20 AM · Report this
marymc 26
Okay, if they're going to be serving Smokin' Pete's, I am THERE. I was deeply bummed when I learned that Smokin' Pete's had closed the restaurant and become a catering-only business. What a great way to get my fix and see the fireworks, too!
Posted by marymc on June 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM · Report this
I've had decent BBQ here. I'm on the south end, so Jones was my go to place. I am also from Texas (Houston and East Texas) and my mantra is if you can't find it locally - make it your own damn self. Sadly, and this shows I've relinquished my texas credentials, I make mostly pork shoulder and ribs. Brisket is... ahem... a bit tougher.
Posted by frito on June 4, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this

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