As this season has taken me to new corners of the country, and largely out of the great barbecue geographies, it’s been a challenge to keep up my recommended daily allowance of ribs, brisket and sausage. Trips to Florida and the west coast reveal great vacuums of proper BBQ on the coasts, and I endeavored to find something truly worthy of my discerning palette. Surely the city of Portland with its vibrant food scene and counter culture motif would be able to deliver the goods, right?
Enter Podnahs Pit BBQ Founded by transplanted Texan Rodney Muirhead in 2006, Podnahs appears to be the only authentic Texas BBQ joint in the Portland area. Confirmed by Daniel over at Full Custom Gospel BBQ, it quickly became the only logical BBQ stop during my Oregon State Beavers football weekend. They claim to smoke exclusively over oak, using the same painstakingly slow and low methods common to greats of Central Texas. There are even pictures of Smitty’s Market, the Lockhart, Texas BBQ legend, tacked up on the walls of the restrooms. With eager appetites, my cohort Colin and I sauntered in for Sunday lunch before my departing flight out of PDX Airport.
An amply pierced waitress shows us to our seats, her shaved scalp embossed with colorful tattoos of flowers and stars. In Portland, you don’t even look twice at this kind of person. Placing the menus in front of us, she fetches my Hub Brewing Company Survival 7 Grain Stout, a porridge thick obsidian microbrew from one of the scores of breweries in town. I love great beer towns, and Portland is among the best. An obligatory glance at the menu and my decision quickly settles on the “Pitboss Platter”, a hearty sampling of sausage, ribs, pulled pork and brisket.
My food arrives quickly, a quivering mountain of aromatic meat, enticingly smoky and all of it delightfully void of sauce. The sausage has good snap to it, but a powerful breakfast-ey taste that doesn’t quite work for me. Pulled pork is a solid offering, drizzled in a light vinegar sauce to give it a Carolina feel to it, helping to cut some of the dryness that often plagues pulled pork. Brisket is well cared for here, with an enticing black crust and deep smoke flavor it clearly has the right foundations of a first class brisket. But the fat was still a bit chewy and unrendered, so the beef would certainly benefit from a few more hours in the smoker. Pork ribs were the best offering in my opinion, large spare cuts featuring a deep red smoke ring, pulling from the bone with only a slight tug.
While the Pacific Northwest isn’t the first place that comes to mind for BBQ sampling, if you find yourself in the Portland area with a hankering for some decent cue’, Podnahs is a place certainly doing it right.