Doc's Q'in Pit Stop in Modesto?
Cutting over from I-5 to 99 on Saturday, I drove right by Doc's and the smoke-spewing rig out in the parking lot. Broke my heart that i didn't have time to stop and check it out. What do the 'hounds think about this place?
Doc's Q'In Pit Shop
421 Maze Blvd, Modesto, CA 95351
I've been driving right by Doc's regularly on my favorite route from the City to Merced. Often, it is fairly early in the am when I head by, and they've been closed...but like you, I've gone by once or twice when the rig in the lot was spewing smoke, and it broke my heart too that I had places to be and couldn't stop.
Today, I was by there a bit after ten, and saw someone (who turned out to be the owner) stocking wood into the rig, and I just had to make time to stop. Sure enough, they don't open till eleven, 'so don't act surprised...we serve que, not breakfast', but after I looked a bit (well, more than a bit, I put on a little show) crestfallen, I was told that the pulled pork was ready if I'd like to get a sandwich to go..
YES! Ok, I am a ribs gal, not a pulled pork person, but the smell was making me crazy, and beggars can't be choosers, and all of that...
anyway, I was invited into the not yet open restaurant. Have to say, it was quite nice by bbq place standards: comfy looking fake leather booths, lots of artwork on the walls, ceiling fans. I'd say definitely an eat-in spot when schedules allow.
My brief wait also gave me a chance to read a framed review from last year's Modesto Bee that was posted on the wall; from the review I learned that they use local wood (almond IIRC) for the smoker, and that, like me, the owner developed his love of bbq growing up in Oakland.
The sandwhich was just pulled pork and sauce on a white bread bun, with lots of napkins. I was given an option of mild, medium and spicy sauce, and opted for the medium. With tax and a bottle of water to go was about $8 (I think the sandwich is $6). Unfortunately, they were out of take-out menus, but you can get a sense of what they serve from the website that Melanie linked.
anyway, as I was leaving the owner was back stocking the rig and said, "See you, and I am sure it will be soon after you take a bite of that sandwich".
Darn right. I will have to change my travel times to accomodate their hours (11 to 8 most days; closed Monday).
Like I say, I am not a pulled pork type of person, but this may have been the best pulled pork sandwich I ever remember eating: tender, moist (perhaps just a bit too fatty, however, not that I am complaining), with some charred ends for contrast...and the smoke flavor really shone through...The sauce was complex, both tangy and sweet as well as spicy, and took me back to the joys of Flint's back in the day (when the owner of Doc's and I were teenagers...). The sauce was just this side of where I like the heat: next time I will try the hottest. Ok, I suppose the bun could have been toasted a bit more (it got a bit soggy by the time I was done eating, but then, I confess I was eating with the provided spork while driving),
but if it is all about the meat, this one is a winner.
and I can't wait to get back there to try some ribs and peach cobbler!
Modesto hounds, you really should check this place out. For the rest of you, it is only two blocks or so off of 99, and near the cheapest gas station I've found in the Central Valley (the Arco on 5th street near the 99 on-ramp just south of Maze/132; check out the map at their website that Melanie links above) so all in all, a superior and hound-worthy Pit Stop!
Timed my drive to Merced today to have a late-ish lunch at Doc's; I really wanted to check out the ribs. Bottom line: they didn't acheive the perfection of that pulled pork sandwich, but definitely a very tasty lunch.
I chose eat-in this time. There was a large group being served just as I came in, which gave me a chance to check out a number of the offerings. I have to say, I wouldn't necessarily order a burger at a bbq place, but some of the members of the big group had burgers and they looked spectacular (and huge!). The big group's table was remarkably quiet for a while with some serious eating going on...
I ordered a large order of ribs with two sides (IIRC the choices for rib plates are small, large and extra large portions). Large rib order is $10.00; three or four very meaty ribs, smallish orders of two sides (but plenty of food) and a piece of cornbread. With a diet coke my lunch with tax and tip (full table service) was about $15.
I wanted greens, always my top choice of side, but at two pm they were sold out (I think that big group took the last of them. sigh), so chose yams and mac and cheese. The yams were probably canned, and served in a sweet sauce that was very heavy on maple syrup. Not a good match with the ribs and I wouldn't order them again. Should have gotten blackeyed peas for the New Year....The mac and cheese was bland as it probably should be, and not bad at all. Cornbread was eh.
As for the ribs, they were very good and very meaty, but I was disappointed that they were served drenched in a pool of the sauce; I much prefer sauce on the side, sort of assumed they would have been served that way, and should have asked. The meat was tender, but the amount of sauce distracted, and while the smoked flavor was there, it was harder to taste under all that sauce. After some internal debate I decided to stick with the medium again and this time thought the heat was about right or even a bit too much, which was probably just because it was more sauce. I was also distracted by a bit too much of a cloying maple taste in the sauce, though I think I was picking it up in large part because of the level of maple in the yams.
In any case, I will ask for sauce on the side next time.
Even though I didn't finish my sides I was too full to try the peach cobbler...but there is always next trip!
Despite the less-than-perfect notes in the sauce, Doc's is destined to become a favorite stop on the SF-Merced route (and an excellent choice for those of you driving down 99): fast and friendly service, easy parking, pleasant surroundings, and very good bbq. As I say, a superior pit stop!
I've only eaten there once and we got it to-go. Now I'm a firm believer that the to-go option never stands up to eating a food right where it's made and it was still pretty darn good. The BBQ itself was better than the sides but that might have been the travel factor. I'd give it an 8 on a scale of 1-10, maybe a 9 if you eat it there.