BBQ Map, by Alston Mabry

January 27, 2007 |

A few weeks back, Spec Dean posted a link to some nice BBQ reviews. That got me thinking about travel plans, and then it made me want to make myself a little map of BBQ festivals and competitions and what not. Then that kind of grew as I did more research, and it expanded beyond BBQ at times, and it's still a work in progress, but it may provide some use and inspiration to others wanting to hit the BBQ trail in 2007.

Alan Millhone comments:

In my state of Ohio, I don't know of any barbecue gatherings. Let me know if Ohio is added to your excellent map. I noticed recently along route 33 from my home to Columbus a new barbecue restaurant at an exit for Logan, Ohio. It has been built with a green metal roof. I also noticed a large stack of wood ricked up at the back of the restaurant. My daughter for some years lived in Charlotte, N.C. and I visited "Smokey Bones" and "Sonny's Pit Barbecue" on a couple of occasions. Your map is excellent and I enjoyed looking at it. I saw a segment on TV a few days ago interviewing the creator of "KC Masterpiece" barbecue sauce (# 1 in America) and he now has a restaurant to serve up ribs, etc. coated with his secret recipe sauce — only in America.

Russ Herrold adds:

In my state of Ohio, I don't know of any barbecue gatherings.

There is the annual Jazz and Ribfest at Columbus along the Scioto River.

Finalists over the years based in Columbus include: City BBQ (started at a location in the 2000 block of W. Henderson Rd.) is my personal favorite and it's in an easy driving distance. Others include: the Damon's chain (started here by some folks who also ran a local financial recovery collections firm); the locally started Hoggy's chain (their third location at the corner of Fifth and Grandview Ave. is about 1/2 mile from my office); and the Knotty Pine (one location on West Third, near Ashland), which was a long time favorite, but as noted in a review:

The Knotty Pine originally opened in 1935, and was taken over by new ownership five years ago.

The change was not for the better as they lost their fire for barbecue.

One of my children lives in Memphis (ask for Eric at Bar-B-Q Shop), but he is married to a St. Louisian, and there are regular wet vs. dry rub debates.

The location down on Rt. 33 near Logan is just one of many in southeastern Ohio — go down Fairfield Co. Rd. 86, and a couple others are waiting to be sampled.

Charles Pennington offers:

I lived in Columbus for 12 years, so I wanted to chime in on a few barbecue topics covered by Russ Herold.

City BBQ on Henderson Road is a wonderful place. I stalked the restaurant before it opened, rejoicing that good barbecue might be arriving. I thought I was their first customer, but the owner, Rick Malir, denies it. I went through long streaks of eating there almost every day, either for lunch or dinner. I like the chicken, but really the brisket is probably what they do most distinctly. Credit me for their offering of green beans and Brunswick stew. I lobbied for these intensely. They also have good macaroni and cheese.

Damon's is a chain, and I don't think it's as good as the best non-chains, but still it's very good, and much better than the option of eating something that's not barbecue.

Hoggy's is also good, but not as much to my taste as City or even Damon's. It places more of an emphasis on a mustard-based sauce that isn't to my liking. Often it's a little too loud in there too. The barbecue restaurant should be more like a sanctuary for contemplation in my opinion.

Some recommended Columbus non-barbecue restaurants, if you must: La Chateleine on Lane Avenue (ask to meet Gigi as part of the experience, and listen to the sounds of Salvatore Adamo, Gigi's favorite, in the background), Katzinger's deli (I prefer it over New York delis.), Schmidt's Sausage Haus, the Gyro Shoppe.

A note on New York barbecue: Really the best in New York is Dinosaur Barbecue, which is way west of Harlem (646 W. 131st St. New York, NY 10027). It has very, very good food and surprisingly low prices for Manhattan. Before I got reading glasses, I once misread the check as $83, and started to fill in a tip and sign the Visa receipt, until my dining companion alerted me that the bill was actually $33. $83 seemed very plausible for the amount of food we had eaten and also taking into consideration the Manhattan location. However, this place is not really a sanctuary — it's a bit boisterous. It's a spinoff of the original location at Syracuse University, a loud campus hangout.

Scott Brooks adds:

On the theme of BBQ, I would like to throw into the mix a small midwestern BBQ chain of restaurants, Bandana's Bar-B-Q. I know we usually don't go for the chain stores, but I believe this one is unique

It started locally in St. Louis and became so popular that they began to expand. They are now in several cities throughout Missouri and Illinois.

They serve BBQ as part of a lunch or dinner platter and you can get either at any time of the day. I always get the lunch pork platter. It is more than adequate to fill you up … I usually can't eat it all. The lunch platter comes with a lot of BBQ, two side dishes, and two big pieces of garlic bread. With the dinner plates, you get a third side dish.

The food is consistently good at all stores. They smoke the meat and let you add sauces to your taste (which is what I prefer). All their sauces are good, however, I prefer to mix a few sauces together as follows:

About eight parts "Sweet and Smokey" sauce with one part each of "Spicy" sauce and "Hot" sauce, ending up with a tasty sweet mixture that has just a little bite to it.

The original sauce that they are famous for is mustard based and has a unique flavor … but I'm not fond of that one (although many people are).

I like to go eat at the Bandana's in Columbia MO, where they know my name, or the one in Arnold MO (a suburb of St. Louis) right at highways 55 and 141 where my best friend's wife is a server. I always sit in her section … she is a great server. If there were a spec list for servers, she would be the Chairman … she's that good!

If you get a chance to eat at the Bandana's at 55 and 141 in St. Louis, ask to sit in Sharon C.'s section. Tell her Scott sent you!


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