Portland’s Best BBQ, 2007

It seems like every once in awhile we end up having a new discussion on Portland’s BBQ scene. More often, in fact, than any other sort of food (at least, that’s my sense of it). Why? I don’t know.

This latest discussion is inspired by the arrival of spring (the beginning of BBQ season, in my book) and my lunch today at Podnah’s Pit (previously discussed here by Betsy, and reviewed in depth here by the FoodDude).

Now, to give you context, I claimed that Big Daddy’s BBQ was Portland’s best in 2006. My love for Big Daddy’s ranged back to my initial blogging days, and it sustained me for a long, long time.

Sometime last fall or winter, I decided Big Daddy’s was no longer on my list, though. They’ve slipped substantially since their Hawthorne start-up. And in the last year I’ve found that if I want consistently good BBQ, I always end up at Campbell’s Cannon’s on 33rd and Killingsworth.

I noted FoodDude’s review of Podnah’s with interest about a month and a half ago, and have been planning to make an excursion there at some point. Scheduling, kids, spouses, finances and life-in-general all schemed against me, but I broke free for a lunch today.

Now, the lunch menu there is limited. An iceberg wedge salad, pulled pork or brisket sandwich, pork ribs or chicken. Sides of pinto beans, potato salad, cole slaw, or corn bread. At night, the menu is far more robust, and I have a feeling I’ll like the place better with a dinner in my belly.

But let me say this: based on just the lunch (I had pork ribs with pinto beans), I’m ready to say that Podnah’s is in the Portland pantheon. They’re not with Campbell’s Cannon’s yet (I currently rate Cannon’s the best Portland BBQ to which I’m privy), but I usually use brisket or other beef products to really gauge the winner. As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to find a bad pork rib.

Try Podnah’s for dinner (I’m at least a couple of weeks out) and give me your feedback. Or don’t, and give me your feedback anyway. Where’s the best BBQ in Portland?

14 Comments so far

  1. Aaron B. Hockley (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

    Is the Campbell’s at 33rd/Killingsworth related to the Campbell’s at Powell and 80- or 90-somethingth?

  2. Rusty (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

    My old food critic pal/nemesis Nick AKA ExtraMSG has weighed in on Podnah’s as well. You can view his entire selection of Podnah’s-related thoughts at the following:


  3. Rusty (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

    Oops! Meant Cannon’s. I’ll fix that…

  4. TKrueg (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

    Had the Plato Tejano (BBQ brisket, pinto beans, salsa and tortillas) at Padnuhs Pit and it was awesome. Considering it’s supposed to be ‘texas style’, the dry rubbed brisket is perfect for tex-mex. The salsa was equally amazing as it was unique, a perfect match for the smoky beef.

    Also… the cornbread is on the dry side and should only be used to mop up chili or collard green ‘juice’. Speaking of which, do yourself a favor and order the greens. You’ll thank yourself.

  5. Rusty (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

    Yeah, generally speaking greens are my only choice for sides (and, occasionally, cornbread, although I feel that’s more filler than anything). One lady came in during lunch, heard that there were no greens, and said “that’s alright, then, I’ll just come back later for dinner.” A sure sign that the greens are good if they are a key determination in what time you frequent a place.

    And I heard that they usually have lamb ribs at dinner as well. I’m excited to try those…

  6. TKrueg (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

    Forgot to mention my nitpick with Podnahs… On my visit, they didn’t have the BBQ chicken or their pecan pie. That’s, what, 20% of their menu?

  7. Truth (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 2:53 pm

    i haven’t had podnah’s yet, but its definitely on my must try list. I find Russell Street BBQ very enjoyable for a few reasons: their meat is very clean, not as fatty as traditional BBQ, they have a suprising amount of vegetarian (house smoked tofu) and white meat options (turkey, chicken), and they have a fun atmosphere

  8. John (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 9:32 pm

    I too am a big fan of Russell Street BBQ, mainly for the “Derby Mustard” sauce. Its just like the sauce my dad always made. The “Virginia Killer” is also quite awesome. They have a whole lotta sides, meaty beans, mac & cheese, hand cut fries with a smoky dipping sauce, all standards but all very well done. Cheap pitchers of local beer help wash everything down, and its in my hood, so I’m only a few blocks from succumbing to the inevitable food coma. I’m curious to see how their recent remodel has turned out. Perhaps I’ll have to go over there this weekend…

  9. Beulah Mae (unregistered) on April 12th, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

    I miss home, where they smoke whole slabs of pork in a pit all day and the sauce is the perfect blend of sweet and very tangy. Big Daddy’s pork comes close to this, and sometimes I bring it home and put my ‘imported’ sauce on it.

    Everybody focuses on Texas or Carolina BBQ, but I tell you, Alabama BBQ is the treasure! I should fly some folks in a start up a joint.

  10. divebarwife (unregistered) on April 13th, 2007 @ 7:09 am

    I love Podnahs ribs – and Campbells there out eastside, and I can’t believe no one has mentioned Yam Yam’s which is awesome – but for all the really good BBQ we have – I have never found a place that has burnt ends – a staple at BBQ joints in KC.

    Find me that and I owe you a beer!

  11. Rusty (unregistered) on April 13th, 2007 @ 8:48 am

    I’ve heard great things about Yam-Yam’s but just haven’t made it there. Haven’t been to Russell Street but it sounds like it’s getting onto my must-do list pretty fast. Campbell’s is okay, but highly over-rated (much like Clay’s) as far as I’m concerned.

    In terms of burnt ends, my wife likes crispy meat. At Cannon’s you can usually request that they give you the smaller ribs toward the end, which tend to be a little better cooked…

  12. Betsy (unregistered) on April 13th, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

    YamYam’s has gone way downhill, in my opinion. Russell Street is fine – but there’s a wait, and it’s more about grilled meat than smoked meat.

    And we got crispy ends at Podnah’s last time we ordered a full slab to go (that’s the way, only call early if you want to get a full slab…)

  13. The Nothing (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 12:41 pm

    I was mildly-impressed with Podnahs when I went there for my first time last week; which, for me, is pretty substantial. I found their meat to be of good quality, their rub to be great, the smoke flavor to be mild (which can be tough with oak), but their sauce lacking much flavor (though their vinegar based sauce has some good kick to it). Give it some more smoke flavor and a sauce to back it up and it’d be an excellent place – despite peoples complaint over the menu.

    sometime this week I’ll be going further up 15th to Killingsworth – location of Ed & Company.

  14. Rusty (unregistered) on April 16th, 2007 @ 12:44 pm


    Would love to hear your feedback on Ed & Company once you’ve been there…

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