Seattle doesn't have a signature sauce or barbecue ethos like some cities to the south and east. But over the years we've built a population of solid spots that do right by low-and-slow art of cooking meat.
This log cabin trailer set up permanent residence in Lower Queen Anne to serve some of the most legit brisket around. Now that the weather's finally warmer-ish, it would be prime time for Campfire's all-outdoor quarters, in the parking lot next to Citizen. But—oh no! Owner and pitmaster Stefan Giles needs to recover from a back injury, so Campfire will close up shop after Sunday, May 28 to give him time to heal; it's not yet clear when business will resume. We're sending nothing but good vibes Stefan's way and resolving to get here for one final meat fix in before the 28th. The trailer will be on its regular schedule (Thursday through Sunday from 4–9) until then.
A popular barbecue food truck is now a popular restaurant in the Central District, with a bar full of local beer and cocktails with house-smoked ingredients. The lineup of pulled pork, brisket, and mac and cheese bowls is the work of unabashed barbecue geek Matt Davis, a former furniture maker with a degree in wood technology. The food is great, but the sprawling next-door patio is even better.
Food snobs used to scoff that Seattle has no good barbecue. Except, that hasn't been true since Jack Timmons set up a custom-built offset smoker outside his Georgetown roadhouse. Timmons is a Texan—so brisket’s naturally the star, though it’s hard to go wrong with the meats or the lineup of sides (oh, hey Frito pie). Chairs don’t match, service is happy and harried, but the many tenderizing hours meat spends in that smoker—not to mention the gleeful geekery surrounding wood choice, sauce minimalism, and the Tuesday-night-only gargantuan beef ribs—renders this all very charming. Oh, and hey...Jack's just launched weekend brunch.
Some barbecue joints are temples of meat and technique, a place to evaluate smoke rings and eschew sauce. Conversely, enter this little place on Rainier and it feels like you just scored an invite to an epic family barbecue. A really nice family, at that. Brisket is tender, rib meat can't wait to part ways with the bone, and it all comes slathered in a tangy tomato-based sauce. The sides are barbecue standards (baked beans, yams, coleslaw, potato salad) but are clearly made with care and no shortage of extra steps. This means fluffy cornbread and mac and cheese that isn't overly soupy; the greens—cooked with tiny chopped-up bits of brisket end—might be the best barbecue greens of your life. Yes, you'll be crazy full by the end of it all, but take heed: If Thanksgiving happened in summertime, it would taste like Emma's sweet potato pie.
Ballard’s stylized urban barbecue and bourbon joint is designed like a mullet: businesslike consumption of ribs and brisket up front, party in the back bar. It's easy to be suspicious of barbecue restaurants that aren't roadhouses or holes in the wall, but Bitterroot pulls off this tricky balance, no problem. Flavor the dry-rubbed meats yourself with one of the four house sauces, and note sides that transcend their down-home origins, like the pink pickled deviled eggs.