First Look: Bitterroot BBQ

It must be said: Ballard’s newest spot puts the "bar" in "barbecue."

By Allecia Vermillion January 17, 2012


The latest arrival in the current parade of new Ballard Avenue destinations is Bitterroot BBQ, which opens Wednesday, January 18 at 11am, regardless of how much snow might be on the ground. Seattle has barbecue joints, sure, but Bitterroot is a more stylized version, complete with walls of chevron-patterned salvaged barn wood, artfully piled logs, and a fearsome list of whiskeys and bourbon, all hailing from the United States.

But just because the small 30-seat dining room isn’t a grotty, greasy, rickety table sort of place doesn’t mean that owner Grant Carter isn’t serious about his barbecue. He and wife Hannah (who runs the front of house) invested in a custom-built smoker from Missouri company Ole Hickory Pits. Patrons can sauce the dry-rubbed meat themselves using the four sauces planned (mustard, vinegar, ancho chile and classic) for each table.

My favorite thing about this space: Beyond the all-ages front dining room is a hallway that leads to a 21-and-over bar with an additional 30 seats. The green-tiled room has a totally different vibe from the front, and even its own back entrance. You can still get the full menu, and there’s a TV on the wall that will likely see lots of sporting action, but gets covered with a tasteful black screen so it’s fairly invisible most of the time.

My second favorite thing about this place: There’s a barber pole outside that contains a spinning pig! And a red light that gives this little fellow the appearance of rotating on a spit. Hannah Carter said the couple restored the old pole that hung outside the building from its long ago days as a barber shop. By a most fortunate coincidence, her mother happened to possess a rubber pig that fit perfectly inside.

Bitterroot’s menu is straight up American barbecue, including smoked pork belly, baby back ribs, or pulled pork sandwiches, made on custom pretzel buns from nearby Tall Grass Bakery. The back bar will stay open until 2am; Hannah Carter promises they will never close early, and the kitchen will serve food until about 1am. Check out the slideshow for more shots of the space.

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