Del Ray residents and barbecue fans alike waited for more than two years for the opening of Pork Barrel BBQ. Owners Heath Hall and Brett Thompson have been fixtures on the competitive barbecue circuit in the meantime, whetting people's appetites with the news of their success. The restaurant finally opened early last week and word on the street is that it has been packed for much of the time since. Let's take a look at what the early diners are saying.
The BBQ Nerd News: Grilling With Rich offers some lengthy first impressions and this verdict: "The Pork Barrel guys did a great job in making barbecue food appealing to not only the barbecue lovers like myself but to the “average” family. Not only was the food amazing and true to barbecue, the dining atmosphere was a place where I can see myself spending countless hours during the weekend watching the latest football game or even baseball game during the summer. The restaurant was open and inviting and carried the vision of a true barbecue experience." [Grilling With Rich]
More BBQ Nerd News: BeltwayBBQ hasn't gotten a full review up yet, but details a great service story on Twitter in which the owners replaced a runt and dry half-rack of ribs: "Ok, fresh rack of ribs off the smoker @porkbarrelbbq - best I've had so far here hands down. Responsive business = good business!" [Twitter]
The Rave: There's just one review over at MenuPages and it is quite the rave: "In rating the various categories, I really couldn't imagine putting anything except 5's. The food was excellent - the brisket and pulled pork was as tender and tasty as anything I've had, all their sides were delicious but my favorites were the baked beans & mac n cheese. The minute you walk in you feel like you are in a place like Cheers." [MenuPages]
The Good News: From a five-star review on Yelp: "When I got to the pulled pork I tested it out and it added a great little kick to a very tasty, perfectly cooked pulled pork sandwich. The bun on the sandwich also impressed me because it wasn't too big and overbearing, still let the meaty taste shine on through." [Yelp]
The Mostly Good News: The Foursquare tips for Pork Barrel BBQ are a mix of media previews, people complaining about how long it took for them to open and then praise for the sweet tea, the brisket, the mac and cheese and just the food in general: "Awesome food, well worth the wait." [Foursquare]
The Needs Improvement News: One Yelper really wants to love Pork Barrel BBQ, but would like to see a change in the counter service and the setup of the restaurant itself: "I had to make about 8 trips around the dining room to collect the elements necessary to eat my dinner. By the time I had everything, I had tripped twice, sipped flat Diet Coke, and spilled sauce that I could not adequately mop up due to lack of napkins. I was so flustered that I barely enjoyed the subtle smoky flavors of the pork or the ingenious spicy mac n'cheese - really just great food." [Yelp]
The Really Bad News: Perhaps coming into it all with a bit of a Texas barbecue bias, one Yelper offers a flat-out pan: "For all the hype, this place is not worth your time or your money. Having come from Texas where they do bbq right, this place will leave you disappointed. Part of the problem with this place is the owners clearly spent more money on the decor than on the menu and you could tell by the food or maybe I should say lack there of. ... If the hours on the front door don't leave you confused then try walking in. I thought it was a sit down restaurant to be shocked that it is deli style and you have to scrummage for seating. Needless to say, I will not be returning ever." [Yelp]