BBQ is personal. BBQ is communal. BBQ at its core is primal. Meat slowed cooked over smoke. Simple. But not easy to do correctly.
BBQ is the only food that has a definition codified in Federal Law. Title 9 of The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines it this way in Chapter III, Subchapter A, Part 319, Subpart C, Section 319.80
“Barbecued meats, such as product labeled “Beef Barbecue” or “Barbecued Pork,” shall be cooked by the direct action of dry heat resulting from the burning of hard wood or the hot coals therefrom for a sufficient period to assume the usual characteristics of a barbecued article, which include the formation of a brown crust on the surface and the rendering of surface fat. The product may be basted with a sauce during the cooking process. The weight of barbecued meat shall not exceed 70 percent of the weight of the fresh uncooked meat.”
I love BBQ and have traveled thousands of miles eating the best of Memphis, Alabama, St. Louis and Kansas City. I have learned a few things about BBQ. It is intensely personal. Whenever a chef or pitmaster spends 8, 10 or even 15 hours preparing a cut of pork or beef, you are eating the real fruit of labor. The rub, the mop, the sauce, all come from family recipes tested and tasted and tweaked over time.
BBQ is best enjoyed with family. Splitting plates. Telling stories. Savoring time around the table. Slow. Just like the preparation.
I’ve done some research and found that you don’t have to drive far for authentic BBQ. We have some great ‘cue right here in Dayton Ohio. Let me tell you about them. These are my favorites and if you like slow cooked smoky meat, they will be yours too. There are another 1/2 dozen places to get bbq in Dayton (that doesn’t count some remarkable food trucks). These folks are smoking ribs, brisket, pork, chicken and sausage over a real fire with real smoke. That’s the standard.
Hickory River BBQ (Regional Chain 6 locations Illinois and Ohio)
135 S Garber Dr, Tipp City, OH 45371
Hickory River in Tipp is worth the drive. Its a big family place and reminded me of the bigger Kansas City joints I have visited in recent years. By far the friendliest of my visits. My son and I split 4 ribs, brisket, a pulled pork sandwich and a 1/4 pound of the smoked sausage with two sides and drinks for under $30 dollars. My favorites here were the ribs and sausage. The pulled pork had a good amount of bark full of smokey flavor. My son says the mac and cheese was as good as he ever had. The slaw was fresh and made in-house.
Did I mention the prices and friendliness? I can’t wait to get back there. Tuesday’s are buck a bone rib nights.
Gotta Try: Smoked Sausage
1101 W Third St, Dayton, OH 45402
Texas Brisket and Texas attitude. By far the best brisket I have had in Ohio. Peppery, slow cooked, sliced right. Smoke ring and it had a good pull to it. Tender, but not pot roast falling apart. The sauce is kept behind the counter, ask for samples of both offerings. The sausage was great and the pulled pork sandwich was full of smoke and tender. Careful ordering the menu here. It get’s pricey fast. Pulled pork, sausage and a portion of brisket with two sides set me back almost $40 bucks. Ribs are sold by the slab and 1/2 slab only so we didn’t get to try them. Wings need to be ordered ahead by 20-30 minutes. Drink offerings are limited but beer is an option.
Gotta Try: Brisket
1334 Linden Ave, Dayton, OH 45410
Fatbacks is my go-to. It’s set up like the smaller joints in Memphis, which I love. His brisket is always tender and the best pulled pork is found here. His ribs have a sweet finish which I prefer. He also has a thing he calls a pig pop. It is the lower shank smoked slow and covered in a sweet sauce that almost candies on the rendered skin. Get one. No. Get two. Sides here are always great, from greens to slaw to beans.
PS. This guy is building smokers like the pros use when he isn’t feeding lunch to locals on Linden Ave.
Gotta Try: Pig Pop
OinkADoodleMoo (4 locations and WPAFB)
912 E Dorothy Ln, Dayton, OH 45419
I’d put Oink’s ribs against anyone in Dayton. I wish I could figure out the rub he uses there. The founders of Oink studied BBQ in Kansas City brought their newfangled smoking technology back home to Dayton and we benefit from that. Their ribs are never overcooked and always have a great smoke. I find their brisket to be a bit overdone and falling apart. Still tasty on a bun though! Wings. Get the wings. Smoked tender and soft and full of flavor. Not like your normal bar wings. The corn pudding should be a mandatory side. Brisket, wings, pulled pork and a few ribs and sides under $30 again. Perfect for a date or father/kid outing. Oink is also making burnt ends. A Kansas City invention.
Gotta Try: Ribs and get a side of the smoke potatoes
Combs BBQ Central
2223 Central Ave, Middletown, OH 45044
I really can’t say enough about this place. It’s out of range for lunch during the week but it quickly becoming my favorite on Saturday’s.
This laid-back spot is part of Downtown Middletown’s rebirth. These ribs are legit, always cooked perfect and the pulled pork has texture, great flavor and that spicy bark you want in every bite. Brisket doesn’t happen every day. Recently I was there when they had smoked an entire pot roast. Delicious on a bun with a touch of sauce. Prices are good and the service is tops and fast.
Gotta Try: Pulled Pork and Ribs
1001 S Main St, Englewood, OH 45322
Brisket. Check. Ribs. Check. Pulled pork. Check. The best wings in Dayton? Yes. You’ve got my word on it. They smoke wings in a marinade (a wet smoke) then cool them and deep fry them when you order. If you’ve never had them, get up there today. Crunchy outside with a soft smoky interior the wing is in a class all its own. The team of Company 7 is pushing the envelope with lunch specials and a drive-thru. That’s right. A bbq sandwich from a drive-thru. I’ve not timed it from Kettering, but I am considering it.
Bonus at Company 7…beer. More than 20 craft beers in cans and bottles and always a few Company 7 Brews on tap.
Gotta Try: Smoked Wings
I’m always looking for a new spot for great BBQ! Tell us where yourgo-too place is for great ribs, brisket, pulled pork or barbecued chicken.
Speaking of BBQ- MostMetro.com and Bryan Suddith, a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society Judge are teaming up for a Dayton BBQ Tour!
Join us this coming Saturday, May 19th at 1pm as we board the 937 Party Bus and we’ll visit OinkADoodle Moo, Fat Backs and Texas Beef and Cattle Company for this mobile meat feast. We’ll make sure you get plenty to eat and in between spots we’ll share a few brews on the bus and talk BBQ. This is our initial tour and it will be limited to just 12 people. $60 covers the bus transportation, beers and BBQ. Get your ticket here.