PODNAH’S PIT BARBECUE


AT THE RISK OF SPARKING RIOTS in Texas, Kansas, Missouri and North Carolina, we’ll say it: All barbecue tastes somewhat good. Because on a very basic level, slow-cooked meat slathered in a salty, sweet, savory and sour sauce appeals to just about every part of the tongue. But only a very few places in the country turn out barbecue that justifiably can be called sublime.


Up until early this year, the majority of ’cue joints in Portland were just somewhat good; the sauce was all sugar and no bite, or the meat was dry, and so on. But then Texas native Rodney Muirhead opened Podnah’s in an unassuming storefront at NE Prescott & 15th, complete with a gargantuan, custom-made smoker out back and an endless pile of hard oak coming through the front door.


Never mind the sparseness of the dining room and the quick-witted gruffness of the waiters—such features only serve to highlight the single reason for coming here: to feast on sublimely succulent, slow-smoked meats, from dry-rubbed pork spareribs to salted-and-peppered lamb spareribs; from smoky chicken to a pork shoulder, pulled and tossed with a tart North Carolina-style vinegar sauce.


Every other aspect of Muirhead’s menu is as authentically rendered too. The iceberg wedge smothered in homemade bleu cheese is nearly perfect, and the pecans in the pecan pie are sweetened with real cane syrup, baked in a crust made with authentic leaf lard (which comes from the fat around the animal’s kidney) and topped with “cold whoop.”


At last, honest-to-goodness barbecue—with all the right fixins—that transports us out of the realm of just-good-enough and into the realm of downright delicious. 1469 NE Prescott, 503-281-3700