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Tag: Tacoma barbecue


First bite: Papa Jones BBQ on Tacoma’s Hilltop

Is this a pile of meat? Or a sandwich? You be the judge. Papa Jones serves chicken, pulled pork and chopped beef sandwiches with your choice of sauce. They come with a side salad.

Wood stacked up outside a barbecue restaurant usually is an early alert system that the real deal is just inside. At Papa Jones BBQ, the stack of alder wood -adjacent to the building tucked into a flower bed -says it all. Meats are smoked here. You can smell it a block away.

Pork shoulder, ribs, brisket and chicken are rubbed with a sweet-smoky spice blend and slow smoked over alder and cherry. Papa Jones is a restaurant that has the technical aspect of barbecue nailed. The Hilltop restaurant opened July 29. The atmosphere is seat-yourself casual with modern decor – stained concrete floors, snazzy pendant lighting and attractive earth tones.  It’s downright pretty, which, if I know barbecue aficionados – and I think I do – might make diners pause. Read more »


Magical ribs: Get your paws on these pork lollipops at Porter’s Place in Tacoma. And a question: Where do you get your ribs?

The smoked pork ribs at Porter's Place Southern Cuisine & BBQ are supple, smoky and three-napkin good.

Southern barbecue and the Northwest aren’t necessarily synonymous. Finding restaurants here that serve slow-and-low authentic Southern style smoked meats is akin to finding El Salvadoran or French restaurants around the South Sound. They’re a rare find, and as soon as you find a good one, you should visit often to keep it smokin’.

This week, I’ve written about two new barbecue restaurants –Barrel No. 51 mobile barbecue trailer and Dowd’s BBQ & Southern Cuisine, a tiny startup located in a back corner of a Tacoma 76 station.

Those new restaurants join just a handful of other South Sound restaurants serving slow-and-low barbecue: Porter’s Place Southern Cuisine & BBQ, as well as longtime barbecue restaurants Warthog Barbecue Pit in Fife and Brank’s BBQ in Sumner. There’s also the Po-Boy & Bar-B-Q in Puyallup, Shorty’s Grub House in Federal Way, Bob’s Bar-B-Q Pit on the hilltop. Heading southward, there is South Bay Dickerson’s BBQ and the very popular Ranch House BBQ in Olympia.

I’m sure I’m missing a few others, and that’s where you come in.

YOUR TURN: Which restaurants in the South Sound (emphasis on SOUTH) make your favorite ribs, pulled pork, brisket? Where are they, and why should we eat there? I’m compiling a list for a story. Your input is needed. Please comment below.

Click “more” to see my hallmarks of a good barbecue restaurant, and to read about the ribs at Porter’s Place, a restaurant that has operated since 2005 near the Tacoma Dome (and on 72nd Avenue before that). Read more »


Gas station barbecue? Don’t be scared. Dowd’s BBQ & Southern Cuisine in Tacoma serves sublime ribs

Pork ribs at Dowd's BBQ & Southern Cuisine offer supple, tender bite. They come glazed in a vinegary molasses sauce.

There are certain things I never would eat from a gas station. Sushi is at the top of that list along with deviled eggs. And I remember stopping at a gas station once and seeing “homemade lunch meat” haphazardly wrapped in plastic. It looked terrifying.

But, on occasion, gas stations yield unexpected surprises. Dowd’s BBQ & Southern Cuisine was my recent discovery. The tiny barbecue restaurant is in the back corner of the 76 gas station on Steele Street. A handful of tables offer seating for dining in. Read more »