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Apr 28, 2008 07:56 AM

bbq in seattle

Time to start the conversation..what is the best BBQ in Seattle?

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  1. Lately I've been stopping by Casper's BBQ (it's got some official name involving the Everglades and Supper) on Lake City Way (maybe it's Bothell Way at that point) and 150th-ish. It's behind a coffee stand on the south side of the street. It has gotten really busy over the past few weeks, which I take as a good sign that other people like it as much as I do. The ribs are fantastic and reasonably priced ($13 gets you 4 or 5 huge ribs and a couple of tasty sides). Great place to go for a quick take-out dinner!

    6 Replies
    1. re: chococat

      Thi topic has been pretty well covered in

      Have a look and see if you have further questions....

      1. re: bluedog67

        bluedog.most of those posts are old and only about 15 of them are from '08, most of which don't really give any good information. a refreshed question post / same question sometimes does the trick. I'm not closer to understanding where to get good bbq in seattle.

      2. re: chococat

        I had Casper's this weekend.
        Ribs are ok, but they cheat a little.
        I think they're slightly par-boiled before going into the smoker for a long while. Not "real" BBQ.

        So while you get the soft luciousness of the meat, and they use some good cuts of pork, it "falls off the bone" too easily and doesn't have the full smoked flavor you want. (Greg's at the same location was better...)

        I will say that I was surprised by how much I got though. Great value.

        I did love their gator, as well as their red beans & rice and baked beans (with bacon), and am looking forward to their catfish and will give their pulled pork a try.

        1. re: GreenYoshi

          tried Casper's. Not a bbq expert, but the ribs they gave me didn't have much meat and weren't as soft and luscious as i had hoped they would be. I did like their beans a lot. i guess i'm used to Chicago-style ribs (I"m thinking Twin Anchors) which tend to be really meaty and juicy.

        2. re: chococat

          come by and we will show you no boil!!!

          1. re: chococat

            The former Greg's/Clyde's/Casper's location is now home to Rainin' Ribs. I did a short write-up here:


            I thought the place was really pretty good.

            Rainin' Ribs
            15030 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

          2. The best kind is the BBQ delivered by Fedex from a different state. There ain't good BBQ in Seattle.

            2 Replies
            1. re: landguy

              thats what I keep hearing landguy

              1. re: landguy

                Your almost right landguy. I had great BBQ last weekend in my backyard! 8 hours of smoken a 7 lb brisket with home made BBQ sauce. I wept :)

              2. what about pig iron bbq??? It seems to have a following

                1 Reply
                1. re: jamesbra

                  Their pulled pork can be decent, but it has good and bad days.

                  Teddy Bear BBQ in Duvall (a do-able lunch from Microsoft) does good ribs and pulled pork.
                  I didn't love their brisket.

                2. I'm still a fan of the R&L Home of Good BBQ on Yesler. The "Home" is a mom and pop type place that has been in business for at least 25 years in a total hole in the wall. I'm a brisket lover and they've got the best in the city in my eyes. It's extremely tender. Go with the dinner, get 2 extra pieces of wonder bread, get an extra order of hot sauce on the side (no, medium, and hot are all good and hot is hot), and make brisket tacos.

                  Smokin Pete's in Ballard is adequate for a fix, but nothing special. The pulled pork tends to be a bit fatty and the ribs aren't quite as tender as I would like. That being said, due to it's location, we've hit a few times recently and it satisfies the urge.

                  36 Replies
                  1. re: BallardFoodie

                    I've always put R&L toward the bottom of my BBQ list.
                    Decent soul food type stuff when they have it (greens and what not), but I found the BBQ itself to be pretty bad.

                    The lady there is nice, she's a cousin of Willie from Willie's Taste of Soul.

                    1. re: GreenYoshi

                      listen, my children, and you shall hear
                      of wonderful foods both far and near

                      (apologies to longfellow...or was it emerson?)

                      in atlanta, i do not seek seafood but revel in the soul food
                      san antonio offers superb tex-mex but the chinese is third-rate
                      wonderful pizza in chicago (unless you like thin crusts)
                      miami has wondeful cuban food but they just closed the last jewish deli

                      seattle is fine place for chowhounds (especially as good pastrami and chicken soup have arrived in the market) and it is absolute heaven for vegetarians BUT no place can be all things to all people (maybe new york...) . one prays daily for good bbq but, so far, the gods refuse to share.

                      btw, "having a following" is no recommendation; see "cheesecake factory"

                      1. re: howard 1st

                        I've lived in Texas and Oklahoma and I have to say that the BBQ here isn't bad. It's not outstanding, but there are places that are pretty good.

                        One thing to remember is that the majority of BBQ restaurants in KC, Texas, Oklahoma, and across the south, just aren't that outstanding either. Just like Vietnamese restaurants in Seattle, there is a lot of chaff to separate from the wheat.

                        Also, keep in mind that BBQ at a restaurant is hardly ever outstanding. Unless they are doing tons of business, all the meat is going to be reheated, which isn't bad, but not necessarily good either. BBQ is one of the food items that can't be made as well in a restaurant as it can at home. I've never found a BBQ restaurant anywhere that is as good as the stuff I make at home, and I don't have that much experience doing it either.

                        1. re: howard 1st

                          NOT HELPFUL.
                          Seriously, didn't we JUST go through this.

                          Howard, what are the places you've been to (preferably more than once, since you know even the best BBQ can fluctuate from visit to visit) and what didn't you like?

                          1. re: GreenYoshi


                            first, a confession - i am addicted to ribs (spare, not babyback) and do not believe the world's best pulled pork (or brisket or beans or...) compensates for bad bones. that being said, i have been to every bbq joint - twice - within easy commute of seattle (sorry, no shelton or north bend) and have found the least objectionable ribs at the lone star in pioneer square - but that's the equivalent of the best dim sum in nebraska...i also liked the late, lamented greg's on bothell way

                            note to vanillagorilla - what you do in your backyard is grilling; bbq involves many hours and much smoke and is, like chinese roast duck, always better done in volume by professionals

                            1. re: howard 1st

                              Ahem, speak for yourself regarding what people do in their backyards. I, for one, both grill and bbq. I'm guessing vanillagorilla does too.

                              1. re: howard 1st

                                Yeah, I agree Greg's was great.
                                I'm a little dubious of your "i have been to every bbq joint - twice" claim though. I'm sure you've been to the standards (Pecos, Jones, Willies) a few times, but I'm sure there are many tucked away in odd places that you wouldn't even think of.

                                While many of them aren't very good, say Milt's over by Microsoft, some do some pretty good work, say Cedar River Smokehouse in Renton.

                                (i'll do a post on more obscure BBQ places, I'm working on a list.)

                                1. re: GreenYoshi

                                  Yoshi, as you have emerged as a vigorous defender of Seattle BBQ specialists, I look forward to your list of obscura.

                                  As a BBQ novice having never travelled to the holy lands (with the slight exception of some ribs in the Memphis airport), it is difficult to even get one's bearings in the local BBQ scene amidst the cavalier dismissals here anytime BBQ is mentioned. I think I understand the basics of BBQ geography (brisket in Hill Country; pork in Cackalacks, etc.), and of course I hear that Seattle's offerings are miserable in comparison, but I still can't plot the shortcomings on the various meats at the more well-known palces so as to understand just why they are apparently so horrible.

                                  Is Jones' worth a shot? Pecos Pit? Hole in the Wall? If so what are the strengths and weaknesses. FWIW, I really like Roy's Georgia Gold (pork sandwich with mustard-based sauce). that and Dixie's at the M's game is the extent of my local BBQ exploits.

                                2. re: howard 1st


                                  Don't get snarky when you have NO IDEA what I'm doing in my back yard. I'm making pulled porks, spare ribs, brisket, long cooked chuck and other things in a real smoker. That my friend is the definition of BBQ.

                                  I also have to wonder about your love of ribs? You'll never get good pork ribs in Texas. It's brisket and sausages there, and beef ribs on occasion. Is that not good?

                                  1. re: vanillagorilla

                                    Texas may be known for bbq brisket, but I have had many a tasty pork rib from roadside joints in the hill country.

                                    Yes, I've had better pork ribs elsewhere - the Carolinas, Tennessee, even Alabama and NW Florida, but never did I have a rib in the PNW that equalled or surpassed the worst rib I ever ate in Texas. Brisket sucks up here too, but I've had lousy brisket everywhere outside Texas.

                                    At least on occasion one can find edible pulled pork around here.

                              2. re: howard 1st

                                See thread entitled "there's no good X in Seattle"

                                1. re: howard 1st

                                  having a following is always a good indication, whether its salumi / matt' or whethers its cheesecake factory or mcdonalds. theres something there thats working. seasttle weekly just wrote, actually, a really good article on the cheesecake i disagree "is no recommendation"...wherever theres a line, theres a story

                                  1. re: jamesbra

                                    I have to side with howard on this. A mediocre place having a following only perpetuates the bland, the mid-America tastes. A good example of this is the King5 poll called Best of Western Washington. The participants believe that the best Chinese is served at PF Chang's and the best burgers at Red Robin. I have to assume that they back this up with their money. What does this tell people who want to open restaurants?

                                    1. re: jamesbra

                                      A little off topic, but Hillary Duff has sold tens of millions of records, so her music is AWESOME!!!!

                                      Seriously, Bar-B-Que is tough in Seattle. Some places do "something" right but I haven't found anywhere that puts the whole package together.

                                      Steel Pig, really good chicken and greens, not-so-good ribs and pork
                                      Stan's, Good Pork, bad links, average chicken and sub-par sides
                                      Dixie's, Great Brisket, not so great ribs
                                      Willie's taste of Soul, really good ribs and pork, not so good brisket or chicken.

                                      1. re: Kevin B

                                        This is exactly my point.
                                        So what's wrong with getting chicken at Steel Pig, Pork at Stan's, Brisket at Dixie's and Ribs at Willie's, instead of saying that Steel Pig have nasty boiled ribs (which it does)?

                                        Well, how about NOT GETTING the ribs at Steel Pig or the Brisket at Willie's?

                                        Whenever I first go to a BBQ place, I try to make sure I get a meal that comprises their Ribs, Pulled Pork and Brisket (if they have it, chicken if they don't). That's the only way to really judge a place.

                                        At a higher level, I'm a big fan of specialists. I believe that EVERY restaurant has SOME redeeming value (i mean Julia Child LOVED the fries at McDonald's and in another thread I think someone mentioned a shrimp dish at Cheesecake Factory that is delicious) and it's our job as CHOWHOUNDS to find it.

                                        1. re: GreenYoshi

                                          Amen Brother!

                                          Lots of places have one transcendent dish among a menu of mediocrity. I've mentioned in another thread, if I could find a great Birria (real goat, thanks) in this town, the rest of the menu could be truly awful and I'd still go there.

                                          1. re: Kevin B

                                            I made a pretty mean goat leg a few weekends ago. I did it over cherry which turned out surprisingly well. Just salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and Mexican oregano on it. I smoked it for about 12 hours, if I did it again, I'd probably do it for a few hours more.

                                            I was surprised that the cherry worked as well as it did. I love cherry for pork, chicken and fish; but it can be a little bland on more bold meat.

                                            1. re: Kevin B

                                              birria--> try Rosticeria y Cocina El Paisano. I've heard good things.


                                          2. re: Kevin B

                                            Have you been to the south? Do you no understand that's how it is everywhere? No one in any "BBQ State" would claim that any one particular restaurant has the best of all meat types.

                                            If you go out for BBQ in Texas, you will most likely get good brisket and sausages. If you're lucky they will have beef ribs. You won't get good pulled pork or pork ribs. That doesn't mean the restaurants don't serve the pork, it just means you're better off not ordering it at most places (It's the mesquite that ruins the pork).

                                            If you go out in Carolina, don't bother getting beef. They just don't do it well. If you want the best ribs, Memphis is your bet.

                                            The only place that does everything is Kansas City, but I would say they don't do anything well, and their one size fits all sauce approach just doesn't work for me.

                                            BBQ is complex. It's a combination of meat type, smoke type, rubs, and sauce type. It takes a lot of trial and error to get right. There is a reason that in the Carolina they use hickory and vinegar based sauces. It just works. The same way that the thicker spicier sauce of Texas works with the stronger flavor of mesquite and beef.

                                            1. re: vanillagorilla

                                              Just wondering, you trying to start a flame (pun intended) in this thread?

                                              I'm sure your goat leg was tasty, but if you didn't stew it, you didn't make Birria.

                                              Nah, never been to the south. I think the best bar-b-que EVER comes from Toronto. Man, get me some Poutine with a slab of elk, hold the sauce...MMMMM. (Yes, that's a joke.)

                                              This gets back to the whole "there is no X." The point of needing to go to several different places is different here than in "BBQ States." One can go to any good BBQ joint in the south and everything will be pretty good. Nothing will be awful. You definitely need to be more picky and situational with your ordering here in order to not get things like the Ribs at the, I guess, now departed Steel Pig.

                                              1. re: Kevin B

                                                I'm not trying to start a flame war here, but this is the statement I have a problem with:

                                                The point of needing to go to several different places is different here than in "BBQ States." One can go to any good BBQ joint in the south and everything will be pretty good. Nothing will be awful.

                                                I thank that statement is demonstrably false. I've never had a great pork rib or pulled pork in texas. Brisket outside of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas has generally been pretty bad. It really isn't that much different. The lows there are just as low as here, but the highs there are quite a bit higher.

                                                1. re: vanillagorilla

                                                  FWIW, I grew up in TX and northwest FL. I agree with Kevin B's general point about the "BBQ states."

                                                  I have had good pork ribs in the hill country (TX) - the best ribs I've ever had here have been worse than the worst I've ever had down in TX. (I have found some truly terrible Q joints in other southern states.)

                                                  To keep this relevant to local food, at least one can get an edible pulled-pork sandwich around here. (Longhorn's used to be good but was pretty flavorless and dry last time I had it, Hole-in-the-wall was OK.) but forget ribs and brisket. And I would still rate these as pretty much junk compared to even the BBQ chains back home even for pulled pork.

                                                  1. re: vanillagorilla

                                                    I've never had a pork rib in Houston that sucked. I've had brisket in Kansas City that I thought was pretty good. I've had a pulled pork sandwich in Dallas that was above average but not incredible. I've had some nasty stuff here in Seattle but I've found some nuggets of goodness. If there were a place here that had one great item and everything else was above average, it would instantly be my favorite. Maybe I'm lucky, but I've never had anything nasty in the south. (Except maybe Shiner Bock to wash it down. Now that could start a war...)

                                                    1. re: Kevin B

                                                      Hey Kevin B, What is your issue with Shiner Bock? Granted it is not a great beer, but it is a hell of a lot better than most of the macrobrews out there.

                                                  2. re: Kevin B

                                                    So true. One day (and only one) the late piggy had the most remarkable smoked chicken I ever ate. The greens were odd, but I remember them as very tasty that day. And even acknowledging all this promise, the boiled ribs alone demanded for Mr Pig the the death penalty it got.

                                                  3. re: vanillagorilla

                                                    I agree with most of your statements but the whole "no good pork ribs in TX" is just crazy. I gotta step in and defend some of my favorites. Head to Fort Worth and check out either Railhead or Angelo's. They make some truly amazing pork ribs...just as good as their brisket which is great as well.

                                                    1. re: yoyo11

                                                      The meat itself may be good. I just don't find that the sauce I get in Texas works well with pork. I also find that the majority of the places use mesquite for all their smoking. While mesquite is great for beef, it completely overpowers pork.

                                                    2. re: vanillagorilla

                                                      There's plenty of different sauces in KC, not all sweet. The most famous, Bryant's, isn't sweet at all.
                                                      And the different meats are because of the history of the stockyards and immigrants of various ethnicites in a big city, not the rural regions of Texas, The Carolinas, etc.

                                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                                        I know the history of Kansas City BBQ. And if I had to choose one place to get my BBQ from it would be there. That's because I generally do like all the meats.

                                                        However, even though there are different sauces in KC, in general they are a thick tomato based sauce. I'm just not a fan of that sauce on pulled pork. I think it screams for a Carolina style sauce.

                                                        And that brings me to my general conclusion about great BBQ. Every kind and cut of meat has a wood that works best for the smoke and a flavor and style of sauce that compliments it. Too often BBQ restaurants that try to provide all the cuts of meat compromise too heavily. I think beef is best with hickory/mesquite, pork is best with fruit woods or oak, pork ribs are best over cherry, etc. Beef needs a bold spicy sauce, pulled pork is best with a thinner more acidic sauce, ribs need a sauce that can glaze. Most restaurants don't feel that way though. Even in BBQ states, the places generally use one wood for everything (if you have to pick one, please pick oak), and use the same sauce for all their products.

                                                        That is the reason that I would contend that even in the BBQ states you have to search for the places that do one thing well.

                                                        1. re: vanillagorilla

                                                          I think Vanilla Gorilla needs to invite us over to his place for some hickory smoked brisket and cherry smoked ribs.. :-)

                                                          1. re: GreenYoshi

                                                            GreenYoshi expresses my sentiments exactly, although I always thought that VG was a girl?

                                                            (Come out, come out, wherever you are - and give us directions to your backyard Q pit)!

                                                            1. re: Roo

                                                              If you want to have a chow BBQ party sometime, I'm all for it! Although I only have one smoker, so you have to decide what meat/wood combo you want in advance. I also might have to take meat money donations.

                                                              1. re: Roo

                                                                And my wife want's me to make sure everyone knows that I am in fact a man.

                                                            2. re: vanillagorilla

                                                              I like the way you think. Maybe you should open a Q palace.

                                                              1. re: bbqboy

                                                                I don't think Seattle could ever really support a truly excellent BBQ restaurant. I've found from cooking the the meat is best when it's rested for an hour or two in a cooler, just off the smoker. Then you have about and hour while it remains at it's peak.

                                                                Unless you are doing massive turnover, you simply not going to be able to serve properly rested meat just off the smoker. You either are reheating or keeping things warm on a steam table. Now reheated meat can still be outstanding, but if I was going to charge people for it I don't think I'd be willing to make that compromise.

                                                  4. re: GreenYoshi

                                                    Green Yoshi - It may be that we are eating different things at the Home of Good BBQ. My go to item when I'm there is brisket. I've tried pretty much every other place in the city for brisket and none have been close to the brisket here. I'd be happy to take a recommendation from someone for a place to try quality brisket.

                                                    One sort of off topic point: One of the last times that we were there, we purchased a box of bits and pieces for our dog. It is a total bargain. They give you a huge box for like 5 bucks. Our dog was in heaven.

                                                    Finally, I, too, BBQ in my backyard using my weber bullet. Low and slow is the only way to go.

                                                2. For me, the BBQ test is the pulled-pork sandwich. Have to say that Pecos Pit and Three Pigs (Bellevue) hold up pretty well over the years and are very consistent. Also Hole in the Wall on James Street (nice folks and a dang good pulled pork sammich). Not a fan of Longhorn in Pioneer Square after a few tries. I tried Pig Iron in Georgetown -- what a waste of a cool vibe and good sides -- the meat there is NOT smoked as far as I could tell and that ain't good. Willie's on Lake City Way used to be good until they stopped smoking the meat on-site -- bad move on their part, though they're open late on the weekends if you're looking for a late night bite. Looks like Steel Pig squealed for the last time - both north Aurora and Queen Ann look closed. Also, Rowdy Cowgirl's website is still up, but it looks like it has a new name, Ro Ro. Not sure what going on there. Going to give Roy's in Columbia City a try this week.