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PI BBQ ARTICLE

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I AM DYING TO HEAR SOME FEEDBACK FROM THE HOUNDS ON THE BBQ RESTAURANT REVIEWS IN FRIDAYS P.I. ANYBODY AGREE OR DISAGREE OR HAVE OTHER SUGGESTIONS. I KNOW FOR SURE SHE NEEDS TO TRY BRANK'S.

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  1. if a local newspaper published a review featuring all the local places to get a lobster roll or a chopped liver sandwich (with extra shmaltz), would that automatically mean that is was suddenly and magically possible to get such treats in seattle? nay, nay, my friends - having lived many years in the heart of dixie and having tried every bbq place within 50 miles of seattle, i can state (yet again and with great sadness) that there just isn't anything resembling real, slow-smoked bbq around. a few passable ribs, a few acceptable sauces (restating for the uninitiated - bbq is all about the MEAT, not the sauce), a few briskets not entirely awful but nothing at all like the joints that line the roads in georgia, alabama and other such outposts of hickory worship. of course, they don't have salmon or pho or sushi or mussels or......

    1 Reply
    1. re: howard 1st

      if you have been to Depot Smokehouse in Everett i would love to hear your opinions.

    2. The fact the reporter couldn't tell whether a rib order was boiled before cooking says it all. Obviously the time she spent in Memphis "didn't take".

      1. For those who don't get the paper version, the review is at:
        http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/32...

        In ways the review is an extension of discussions on this board:
        'First stop was chowhound.com, where the buzz among the viciously opinionated food set was downright discouraging: "Seattle BBQ is worthless. (But then, I would never order salmon in Memphis.)" That sentiment captured the general tone of the discussion, though there were some exceptions.'

        paulj

        1. The best BBQ in Seattle comes delivered in the mail. These days you can mail order BBQ from the best restaurants around the country.

          2 Replies
          1. re: landguy

            The PI reviewer mentions doing that - '(I've even had my beloved Rendezvous ribs Fed-Exed for a special occasion.) '

            1. re: landguy

              WOW...good to know! Since moving up to Ferndale, WA...from San Diego, CA...we don't know where to find good bar-b-q. Our favorite in Alpine (where we lived...east of San Diego) was Ramons...go there everytime we are visiting San Diego....so wonder if they would send via Fed-X? Have to check. Meanwhile, I'll search will continue for something a little closer to home.

               
            2. Would the HATERS please tell us the places they've been to and been disappointed by instead of the pointless comment of "There's no good BBQ in Seattle".

              Obviously there's better Q in other parts of the country, that's not the argument, and some items at some places are terrible, but the point of this is to find places around here that serve good stuff.

              I refuse to believe that many of you have tried alot of the places in the area. I myself have not tried "The Depot Smokehouse" in Everett or the new place in Duvall the "Teddy Bear" BBQ guys have opened up to name two of many.

              Seriously, this whole "There's no good BBQ in Seattle" is a stupid, useless mentality.
              Please list some of the ones you've been to, what you had and why is disappointed you.

              (Also, any good Q-person knows, due to the tempermental nature of low and slow cooking, you have to eat at a BBQ place at least twice before judging. More than other types of restaurants they have good days and bad days)

              17 Replies
              1. re: GreenYoshi

                i have eaten at all but one of the places in the PI article(Rowdy Cowgirl-too many bad reports) and except for the review of Burney Bros.(which i thought was awful) i agree with the majority of what she says. i have also eaten at Texas Smokehouse in Woodinville,Brank's BBQ (though not in the new location), and Depot Smokehouse in Everett. when i crave BBQ now i head straight for Depot and have either the brisket or whatever they tell me came out of the smoker most recently. he knows what he is doing and has the ribbons to prove it.
                i aslo really enjoy Smokin' Pete's on most visits. i suggest a search for BBQ to find out specifics of what people like and don't like about Seattle BBQ.

                1. re: bighound

                  OK I gotta chime in. We have, over the last 15 years, tried many of the bbq joints in the Seattle area. I reject the blanket description that Seattle hasn't any good BBQ, sorry Joe but it ain't so. Perhaps there's a few reasons for the nay saying:
                  1. Memory is fickle. The food I had 3 or 4 decades ago seems to take on epic and unreasonable proportions. It's not the _____ of my youth so it sucks.
                  2. Your comparing a local q joint to a rare standard. (Sorry there's no brisket better then Coopers or Kreutz market, but that's the best in the whole country by my Texas standard and you expect the local joint to compare?) There's plenty of poor q in Texas, KC, Memphis and yes the rest of the south.
                  3. Complaining generates interest and responses. I like attention so I'll get the conversation spinning off with a blanket statement, " Seattle has no......"
                  4. Regional snobbery. My spousal unit is an old school texan, she has bbq in her blood -grandpa had a q joint. So don't try and compare anything to her 1950s memory or pride of origin. (Texans can be opinionated?)

                  There's a number of good q joints. Roy's in Columbia City makes a great pulled pork sandwich -Georgia Gold as he calls it. His brisket is still good; it's smoked 12 hours, has a pretty good smoke ring I don't believe he uses the texas crutch (foil). Pecos pit produces a very good basic sandwich -beef or pork. OK the sauce can overpower it so ask for it on the side. (Pecos pit also passes the two true Texas bbq tests - count the numbers of beemers and pick-ups in the parking lot, they should be equal for a good q joint and the menu has less items then my car's tranny has speeds.) Though it's been a couple of years since I've been back, the folks at Bodacious Bbq did a very fine job of smoking their pork shoulder and brisket. Good people who know how to produce great commercial q.

                  I can't comment on ribs as I've never found a style I like best either here or on the bbq belt.

                  Yes, I've eaten Q at LLano, Lockhart, Owensboro, KC, Raleigh, Charlotte and many other dives and palaces since the 80s. We've taken BBQ road trips when visiting relatives in Caldwell, Texas or driving cross country. Yep I'll mail order mutton and burgoo from Owensboro, but I'm partial to that part of the usa's cooking. I think we've a few good places here in Seattle for the rest.

                  1. re: fiddlerose2

                    Well said. I think a similar thing could be said about many cuisines that people idolize in their native territories.

                  2. re: bighound

                    Will have to try the Depot Smokehouse in Everett next time we go that way. We go about once a month to Everett....and Smoky Point (Marysville). Any good BBQ place between Everett and Blaine, WA? We live in Ferndale, WA....

                    1. re: NWlambear

                      The Depot is the best I've had around here, bar none. But I can also recommend the Skagit River Brewery in Mount Vernon, they do excellent ribs, and the brisket sandwich is very tasty.

                      1. re: NWlambear

                        My curiosity is getting the better of me. We moved from LA last summer to Bellingham, where we stayed for only 3 months until moving to S. Everett (job reasons). Been here for a year. Why do you come down to Everett once a month? It's not the food, is it? The trader joe's? Family? I think the food in Bellingham, while not phenomenal by any stretch, is vastly superior to anything we've tried in Everett/Mill Creek. Tried Alligator Soul here, Romio's, Zen Garden for dim sum, a well spoken of sushi place in the Safeway plaza off the B-E Hwy, a breadb bakery in Mill Creek Town Center, Jimbo Chinese. Everything has been mediocre. We stick to Papa Murphys, or Seattle. Oh - or one quite good but pricey Indian place in Mill Creek. Had much better luck in Bellingham with the various Thai places, Bagelry, Flats, La Fiamma, the new Asian tapas place, Avenue Bread...

                    2. re: GreenYoshi

                      GY, Imagine if I gave you a $1.99 round steak from Safeway and asked you to make me a steak like the Metropolitan Grill. BBQ is all about "the product" and the product is pork. Just as we have great salmon, mussels and crab in Puget Sound, the South (Memphis, Nashville, Lexington) has great pork. Our local BBQ spots begin with a poor product and then they massacre it. (Like boiling the ribs before smoking them.) My suggestion is for you to Fed-Ex an order from Corky's in Memphis and you'll taste for yourself why we're great at Salmon and not at Que. You can't make a $1.99 steak taste like prime no matter how good you are.

                      1. re: Leper

                        Corky's is where I had some of the worst BBQ of my life in Memphis.

                        1. re: Leper

                          How is the raw pork in Memphis different from what we get in Seattle? Do you know where our pork is grown? Isn't North Carolina one the largest pig growing states?

                          paulj

                          1. re: paulj

                            Great BBQ places don't source their pork from major distributors. (Much like top flight Seattle restaurants source their fish from Mutual Fish, not Sysco.) Quality pork depends upon a quality relationship with the source. Lopez Farms on the Islands offers Pork similar to what you'll find in the South. Alas, they cannot accommodate restaurant size volume. Try some of their basic pork chops and you'll see there is no comparison to Hormel or the other dreck distributors. Bad product is bad product.

                            1. re: Glassman

                              The idea that I have to buy my pork from a small farm on Lopez Island to get tasty meat, much less tasty BBQ, just does not ring true. BBQ is a way of preparing some of the least expensive cuts of meat, We are not talking about black footed acorn fed pigs from Extremadura.

                              paulj

                              1. re: paulj

                                So what you're saying is its better to cook with bad pork than good pork. I'll keep that in mind. (Maybe I'll start buying week old vegetables too.)

                                1. re: Walters

                                  NO. For a start, we haven't defined what is good pork and what is bad. Are you saying that it is purely a matter of freshness? That Memphis shops get freshly butchered pork, while ours is a week old (or more?). Do any of them make a big deal about where they get their pork?

                                  Anyways, the assertions that Seattle BBQ is bad because it uses bad pork need more to back them up than allusions to farm fresh vegetables and freshly caught salmon. We are not talking about the Herb Farm or some high end steak house or ocean view seafood restaurant.

                                  paulj

                              2. re: Glassman

                                Where can I buy Lopez Farms pork? What kind of prices can I expect, for a cut like butt or country ribs? What flavor (or texture) difference can I expect in a lightly seasoned braise?

                                I mention these cuts because they are more like what would be used in BBQ than chops (which I rarely buy) or tenderloin (which I often buy). Braising in dutch oven is more consistent than BBQ, which is subject to the vagaries of the smoker, the fire and smoking wood, not to mention distribution of the rub.

                                paulj

                            2. re: Leper

                              I've been to Memphis and I've had Corky's, as well as Rendezvous. I've also driven through NC and stopped off at a variety of roadside Q stands. I did the KC thing. I haven't done Texas, but that's on the list. There's nothing inherently different about these places, they simply do it different (I would agree that due to their experience and variety, these places are better than what we have, but it's nothing special about the Memphis area to get quality ribs)

                              Are they terrible BBQ places around here? of course.
                              But the blanket statement you put out there is ludicrous, and worse, it's pointless.
                              This is a forum dedicating to finding the mom-and-pops, the places that do something special. You comments lend nothing to the conversation.

                              Like I've said before, if you've been to a place you didn't like around here, please let us know. (OK Corral = good soul food, but terrible ribs, R&L = highly overrated, often dried out meats, always oversauced, etc)

                              1. re: GreenYoshi

                                Seems like another rant is in order.
                                Arguments or statements about we have poor or week old pork in this area are red herrings. They lead no where, are not germaine and lead the discussion away from the core idea of where to get good q in the region. Rather like our kids used to do when they were teenagers.

                                Thank you to the writer who stated q is about cooking cheap cuts or parts of meat to tenderness and that sauce is a whole separate, but equal, side discussion. (Like I said, the spousal unit is a Texan of Czech heritage so sauce doesn't even exist to them.)

                                Another aspect of q that is important to me is it's approachable. I'm not too keen on the nuances of fine cooking nor have I spent much time talking to the chefs who produce it. I have spent many an hour taking photos of pit men at work, talking extensively about the meat, temperature and cuts with the crew at q joints in Owensboro, Llano, Columbia City etc. They are proud men who, if it's not busy, will gladly share info with you. Remember these are commercial joints and not high style competitive one off pieces.

                                BBQ isn't about just pig. Beef is fine so is mutton, sheep, goat, turkey and other assorted formerly self propelled creatures. Q is also a regional taste. I haven't gone to R&L since the early 90s. I just don't like Louisiana style sauces nor do I like black style q. Yes different ethnic groups in one region have different tastes. It's not bad, just not my style.

                                We have some good q in the area so lets share the info on where to go and what to order in each place. No place can do everything well.

                              2. re: Leper

                                HAVING BEEN IN THE WHOLESALE MEAT BUSINESS FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, I'LL THROW IN ANOTHER COMMENT. MOST OF THE BBQ JOINTS I HAVE VISITED IN THE SOUTH ARE MAINLY A MOM AND POP OPERATION. AND TO GET PORK THAT IS OF SUCH A MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY AND FLAVOR YOU USUALLY HAVE TO PAY A PREMIUM WHICH WOULD BE PROHIBITIVE TO THAT TYPE OF PLACE. THAT SAID, I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT SOME PLACES DOWN THERE HAVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH LOCAL PRODUCERS THAT MIGHT GIVE THEM A DEAL ON THE PRODUCT.
                                ALSO, THE ONLY REAL THINGS THAT DIFFERENTIATE ONE PORK FROM ANOTHER IS BREED AND WHAT THEY ARE FED. AGE OF THE BIG ALSO MAKES A BIT OF DIFFERENCE. IN MY OPINION GREAT BBQ HAS MUCH MORE TO DO WITH TECHNIQUE THAN PRODUCT & REGIONAL BIAS AND PERSONAL PREFERENCE MAKE THE MOST DIFFERENCE IN WHAT PEOPLE CONSIDER TO BE GREAT BBQ.
                                ONE MORE NOTE-HAD LUNCH TODAY AT ROY'S AND MADE WHAT TURNED OUT TO BE THE MISTAKE OF HAVING THE BRISKET SANDWICH. AWFUL!!!
                                MEAT WAS GRAY, NO SMOKE RING,SLICED TOO THICK,NO FLAVOR WITHOUT SAUCE. THE SLAW WAS BAD TOO. I DO LIKE THE SAUCE BUT HAVE THEY EVEN HEARD OF RUB. AND THE BUN WAS GOOD.
                                WEDNESDAY I'M GOING TO SMOKIN' PETE'S.

                            3. I just shared a Friday lunch platter of ribs at Teddy Bear BBQ in Duval.
                              http://www.teddybearbbq.com/Teddy_Bea...

                              The ribs were as good as any I've had - good dry rub flavor, tender, moist, not too fatty. Most of the meat pulled cleanly off the bone, with some clinging at the thick end - which I believe is consistent with competition standards (bones should be loose, but not pull free).

                              There were 3 sauces in squeeze bottles at the table (sweet, medium, hot), but the meat did not require them. The garlic spuds side was good - mashed potatoes with skins and lots of garlic flavor. The corn bread side was ok.

                              The setting is an old building on the main road through Duval, with decor of BBQ items, competition awards and clippings, and the old fixtures. Basically small town NW with a focus on the meat.

                              paulj

                              1. The reason I actually shot my big mouth off in this thread was because I've been going through all 30 or so BBQ joints in Portland right now, visiting each multiple times, to do a comprehensive report. I'm about halfway through right now and hope to be done by the end of the month. So far, results have been better than expected. I knew Podnah's would be great, but I didn't expect some of the others to be as good as they are.

                                One of the things I was planning on trying to do was make a trip up to Seattle to calibrate my findings down here with our bigger sister to the north. So that's why this PI article was especially interesting to me. I expect that Seattle's BBQ is much like Portland's, better than its given credit for, but rarely great.

                                So...I'd love to get a top five from people. I can probably visit five in a day. Any more would be damned difficult and require way too much wasted meat. I generally just focus on three meats: brisket, pulled pork, and pork ribs, especially spare ribs. But housemade sausage or hot links is always nice. I generally ignore chicken. Definitely like rib tips and burnt ends if a place does them.

                                If you want to gear it towards my palate at all, this is what I consider great BBQ:

                                1) smokey enough that you can notice it as a dominant flavor, but not harshly smokey, chemically, tannic, or creosotey; if I can't taste smoke -- smokey belches later are always a good indicator of whether it made the grade -- then it might as well have been baked in an oven and it doesn't really seem like BBQ

                                2) tender and meaty, but not mushy. Shouldn't have the texture of canned tuna. Rib meat should tear clean from the bone in one piece, but not just fall off the bone; a bark is always a big bonus on any meat.

                                3) juicy and fatty. most fat should be rendered off, but where there are rivers of fat, like on the point of a brisket, it should be nearing translucency so that it just melts in the mouth

                                I do think all wood or lots of wood with charcoal in a well vented pit can produce the best results, so I'd love to hear if a place is using all wood. However, I know darn well that electric and gas pits, especially those by Southern Pride, J&R, and Cookshack, can produce great results when used properly.

                                So a top five in the greater Seattle area would be greatly appreciated. Would love to hear what they're best at and when is best to go. I actually think that getting BBQ as fresh as possible when it comes off the smoker, is often half the battle. I put together a directory of Portland places down here and called them all to see when they take the meat off (along with what type of wood and smoker they were using). It's helped me a lot in getting the good stuff. See here:

                                http://portlandfood.org/index.php?s=&...

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: extramsg

                                  Top Five in no particular order (based on a combination of personal experience and recommendations)

                                  Depot Smokehouse
                                  Greg's Roadhouse BBQ
                                  Teddy Bear BBQ
                                  Smokin Pete's
                                  Jones BBQ

                                  Others: Willie's, Pig Iron (not to be confuse with Steel Pig, which sucks), Roy's,

                                  1. re: GreenYoshi

                                    Is Greg's still open? The past couple times I've gone there they've been closed (done in by the construction probably) and their listed number just rings and rings... I will be very sad if it's shut down.

                                    1. re: pearwaldorf

                                      Oh, no.
                                      I haven't been in a while.
                                      I'd be sad if they were gone.

                                    2. re: GreenYoshi

                                      Stan's, if you can count Issaquah as a part of Greater Seattle.

                                  2. I agree that Seattle is not the place for barbecue. But the best Texas-style you will find here is at Hole In the Wall, 215 James Street. It's not Cooper's Llano (where I've been), but the briskets are expertly cooked over wood and the sauce is good. Weekday lunch only, no cards.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: donttrustsnakes

                                      Don't try to do a late lunch at Hole in the Wall, they close when the food runs out.

                                      And they're good enough that they often close early.

                                      1. re: donttrustsnakes

                                        I used to be a big fan of HITW when I worked closer. I returned a month or two ago to find that Chuck, the former Q-master, had expired and been replaced by his kids, who frankly could not hold a candle. There's a pretty good chance they won't see me again.

                                        1. re: not the bad Steve

                                          I'll have to try Hole in the Wall since I like Texas style. I'm a Seattle native and the best Q I've had in Seattle was Smoky Point BBQ but that place is no more. It's what really made me want to eat good BBQ. It was a one man show in the old concession stand at Madrona Park and it's was just a guy with some smoker made out of 50 gallon oil drums. My memories might be a little rosie but it was the best I can remember.

                                          I think the biggest problem with Seattle BBQ is inconsistency and IMHO it's not due to low quality meat it's due to old meat. Old as in either smoked someplace else and not handled properly or trying to sell off yesterday's meat or kind of dried out meat.

                                          There are places that I have had BBQ that I really liked but I wouldn't say they are consistent in quality. I try lot's of places and am often dissapointed. That being said:

                                          Rhodies can do some really good ribs but sometimes they are not that great. At festivals they are usually good because they are freshly smoked and and moist. Sandwiches are pretty good but I'm not that wild about their sauce and I'm not a sandwich person due to the too much sauce on my meat problem. This is also why I haven't bothered with Pecos Pit.

                                          Jasper's does catering but they had really good ribs at the bite in a smoked meat that actually tastes smoked and sauce after.

                                          Smokin Pete's has pretty good brisket [sometimes it's more or less tender] and nice sides. I also like the hot sauce.

                                          Jones has one of the better sauces. Rib tips are good but can be dry sometimes.

                                          Burney Brothers was surprisingly good but I also had low expectations due to the location. Still not too bad. I'd try them again.

                                          Longhorn BBQ in Pioneer Square. I would really go back. It was pretty mediocre.

                                          Steel Pig: I liked the sides. The ribs were not tender or very smoky when I tried them. Pig Wings are good. That's smoked chicken that are then fried. You get six for about $4.50 and that means 6 actual wings as in 3 parts each wing. I wouldn't really go here for the pork but the pig wings are something they do well and the greens and black eyed peas are good. They also do a good sweet potato pie.

                                          Willy's on Lake City Way NE. Edible but not really worth a stop. Sides aren't good. Meat... well, it might okay but it might be kind of bad.

                                          Dixie's was okay but didn't live up to the hype IMO.

                                          Manna had some pretty good brisket but that's all I've tried.

                                          Slo Joe's. Well, it's not really good but at least it's overpriced.

                                          In the end it seems like the big problem is that there aren't really place that have a good smoker on the premises and sell until the meat is gone. If you have a yard you can make the better BBQ at home in a Weber [a big one is better] by soaking some hickory chips in water then starting some coals. When the coals [Chef's wood or Royal Oak work pretty well, Kingsford kind of sucks because they are so small they won't burn for long] are ready push them all over to one side put the wet chips on the coals and put the salted baby backs on the other side then cover and let it go for about 2.5 hours adding wet chips as the smoke dies down. Add Sauce as desired. I still haven't found a place that makes BBQ better that that simple method. It also works great for king salmon with a cook time of about 30 minutes or beef steak with about a 40 minute cook.

                                          I'll still have to keep trying places and hoping to find the one place that really works for me.

                                      2. Two places I was very interested in trying were...

                                        Willy's BBQ - Tiny shack just off south Lake City Way that I pass by pretty often. Considering the appearance of this place, I expect it to either amazing or horrible. Such is usually the way.
                                        http://seattle.citysearch.com/profile...

                                        Greg's Roadhouse BBQ - I've heard a lot of good about this place, actually. Supposedly best BBQ around Seattle.
                                        http://seattle.citysearch.com/profile...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: koggit

                                          Greg's has closed.
                                          It's been replaced by a lesser BBQ joint.
                                          It does a "Louisiana-style" Q, that's almost acrid.
                                          Good sides though... (mac & cheese, beans, greens)

                                          I like Willie's brisket. (although they tend to oversauce...)

                                          1. re: GreenYoshi

                                            In defense of Rowdy Cowgirl, on the good days the brisket there is incredibly succulent, even if they do slice it a little thick. Frankly, that slice gives me something that will yield under my bite. I want to be able to appreciate how the muscle fibers and the fat and the collagen have all been transformed since being put into the smoker at 2am by people who think about Barbecue even more than I do. And texture is as important as flavor, at least it is to me.

                                            Yeah, the service can be a little inconsistent, depending on the time of day - all the times I've been in, it's been the same two or three folks wearing a *lot* of different hats. Tough gig. The sides have always been good enough, and cheekily adventurous (I'm thinking chiefly of the succotash) but not to the point of taking themselves too seriously. And they know about laying off the sauce - it's there on the counter if you want it. The pulled pork I found more than edible, and in all honesty, I have yet to get to the ribs. I keep getting sidetracked by the brisket. All in all, the joint is good for what it is. No point getting worked up about what it isn't, or what it would be if it were someplace else, or what we think it *should* be in a traditional sense. Tradition is often just laziness.

                                            Willie's, though. They don't even smoke their stuff on-site (I was told it's trucked in from Capitol Hill) and the staff there didn't seem to give a fat rat's patootie about Barbecue when I was in there trying them out and asking questions. The owner has simply made too slick a joint for my taste. Barbecue made without soul is just smoked meat on a plate.

                                        2. A poster here lamented the dearth of "smokers in the parking lot" or something like that, but Branks and Jones sure have em. Jones, too. Think Rhodies smoker is inside, but smoking there...

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: mrnelso

                                            my 2 cents,gotta stay with jones,most of the time great stuff.every once in awhile,you get a tough one.great sauce, and great peach cobbler.tried banks at the new place off 167 for lunch to go,ribs were really tough,didnt care for thier potato salad.been to willys on the top of the hill,good place in reserve.get heart burn after i eat there.think its the liquid smoke mayb e.but still good food.

                                            1. re: mrnelso

                                              but just thought of this too late of course,they just had the alki bbq cookoff .that would have been the time to go taste q

                                            2. If you are ever around Port Angeles, go to Blue Flame BBQ on Hwy 101, phone 360 452 6355 They deep pit chicken, ribs, steak etc. Even their potaotes are grilled. When I get the urge for slow smoked food, that's where I go, in fact....sure sounds good for dinner. It's best to call for the hours and days open. I was brought up in the southeast and Blue Flame sure takes me home again.