Review: Podnah’s Pit Barbecue

Maypearl Texas

Updated 8/14

I’m indulging myself in the beginning of this review by taking a walk down memory lane. Click here if you’d like to  jump to review section.

When I was a kid, I spent many summers on a big cattle ranch just down the road from the booming metropolis of Maypearl Texas, population less than 300. We had a sprawling old ranch house with a huge Texas star in the linoleum kitchen floor, lazily buzzing ceiling fans, and a living room that was “for fancy company only”. Air conditioning was rare in those days, so on hot summer nights, we’d all sleep on the long screened porch that wrapped around the house. Water came from a windmill in the back yard; beneath it was a huge old bell that would be rung to call ranch hands in for lunch. To a child from a suburb of Los Angeles, the ranch was like stepping into an episode of Gunsmoke. I spent many happy summers making forts and tunnels out of hay bales, fishing for catfish in little “tanks” that dotted the property, and piling into a Jeep with my aunt every morning, raising clouds of grasshoppers, while herding cattle that had been trained to follow the sound of the horn.

Maypearl is where I learned about the circle of life. After I found a lost newborn calf hidden in the grass by a crick that ran across the property, I spent days sleeping in the barn, feeding it with a bottle until it was strong enough to join the herd. Grandmother named it after me, and if there was ever a spoiled calf in Texas, this was the one. It never occurred to me he might be slaughtered some day, and when it came time to drive him up the cattle chute to the truck, I was devastated. A few days later when a freezer load of thick steaks came back, my grandmother took me out to the porch and explained we were giving my cow the ultimate honor by enjoying his contribution to our lives – including the freshly ground burgers we were about to eat. We all held hands and she taught me my first prayer; one I remember to this day. That night as I chased fireflies around the yard, Grandmother said they were happy spirits, so I let the collection in my jar go free, in case my little cow was one of them.

Truck in Maypearl

One of the old trucks we restored

Maypearl is where I learned to ride a horse, how to drive a tractor, run a combine, and toss bails of hay onto a truck as it drove slowly through the fields in the heat of summer. It’s where I lost my innocence to a girl named Lizzy, only to find out months later, that the place in the Maypearl cemetery where we consummated our love, was in fact, her parents headstones. It’s where I spent hours shucking corn to put it up for the winter, picked impossibly red tomatoes with “old Mr. Jackson” across the way, and watched my grandmother make perfect chocolate pies with a meringue that always cried a little; she said they were angel’s tears.

Maypearl is where my cousin and I spent weeks re-wiring an old jeep. As we finally drove it out of the barn where it had been stored with rusting old tractors, the long CB radio antenna hit a hornet’s nest in the rafters. It dropped into the back where it rolled under my seat. I drove down the dusty dirt road, faster and faster, not sure how those stinging devils were managing to keep up with us, until I missed a turn. With a great splash, our summer project slowly began sinking into one of the tanks. We sat there stunned, until two water moccasins  started swimming in our general direction to investigate. That’s the only time I ever managed to run across water. My uncle, who had seen all the commotion, came down with the tractor and managed to pull out the soggy Jeep. To calm us down, we were invited to a big ranch dinner with all the fixin’s. As I sat under a great old tree, legs dusted in sulfur to keep the chiggers away, I began my education in Texas barbecue.

Why do I bring this up? I forget exactly how it happened, but in the course of emails back and forth between me and Rodney of Podnah’s BBQ in NE Portland, I mentioned that his food reminded me of Texas. Through a series of more and more incredulous exchanges, we realized we had lived just a half mile or so from each other. Granted, I’d probably left before he was old enough to walk, but as we shared the names of past neighbors, the sheer coincidence brought back a wave of memories. It helped me understand his roots, and gave me an insight into just what he’s trying to do in his restaurant at NE 17th and Killingsworth.

Review: Podnah’s is far from a fancy restaurant. The outside of the old building has been slicked-up, and I thought it was a new building, but in contrast, the inside shows it still has an old heart. It’s three or four times the original Podnah’s restaurant, but still has a barbecue-house feel.  A large bar area has enough room to comfortably eat by yourself, and regulars will be glad to know there is space to wait for a table without fear of being trampled by busy servers. Light pours through big skylights and a wall of windows along the street. The combination of wood floors, wood countertops and the bricked-lined bar gives a natural warmth. Those of you who grew up in the 50’s will recognize the Formica topped tables.

Though Podnah’s has a full bar, I’m a purist, and look towards the selection of eight tap beers or the interesting bottle list. The servers all have a good knowledge of the choices, and are quick to offer guidance.

Podnahs BBQ Portland Ribs


Start your meal with an iceberg salad. Easily enough for two people, it’s a large crisp wedge of lettuce, covered with ribbons of dressing and little islands of good, pungent cheese. A light black pepper note provides a last layer of taste, a scattering of equally good croutons sprinkled around the plate adds a pleasant crunch.

To some people, the sides that are served with barbecue are almost as important as the meat, and are also heavily regionalized: just look at the differences between cornbread recipes from different areas of the country.

Order a full plate and you’ll get a choice of two sides; the selection makes me feel like I’m back at a potluck on the ranch. In general, the sides set Podnah’s apart from any other barbecue restaurant in our area. The potato salad and coleslaw are pretty much what you’d expect from Texas, and the ramekin of pinto beans, while cooked properly, is nothing to get excited about. However, the black-eyed pea salad is terrific, the legumes in a bath made up of bits of onion and a mellow vinegar sauce, soft yet firmly holding their texture. Pair the salad with the juicy collard greens which are layered with little shreds of pork, and the combination will call out to any southerner. The cornbread varies a bit from night to-night, but tends to be slightly sweet with just the right level of moisture and good corn flavor. For me, this is as good as it gets. Give me a few pats of butter, put on some Doc Watson, and I’ll be a happy man. Honey is for amateurs.

Of course the main event is the meat, cooked in the central Texas barbecue style.  The ribs are dry rubbed instead of being slathered with sauce as some people might expect. There is a good balance of mellow bark, meat and fat on the bones. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, “bark” is the flavorful crust that forms when meat is smoked for a long period. A slightly spicy vinegar sauce, a yellow mustard-vinegar sauce, and a sweeter, thicker BBQ sauce, is served on the side. Rodney says they are Brian’s recipes from the original LOW restaurant which inspired Podnah’s.

Though pulled pork isn’t considered Texas BBQ, Rodney added it to the menu to placate folks from other areas. It is thickly torn – moist and full of smokey, piggy flavor. The meat is tossed with a spicy vinegar sauce, giving it a bit of a kick.

Brisket with a nice bark

Podnah’s brisket doesn’t disappoint. The beef is cooked to the point where the edges have a light, crispy, smoky bark. There is just the right amount of fat, which melts into the meat, giving it flavor without being overwhelming. This is the best brisket I’ve had outside of Texas.

The ribs come to the table juicy and hot, again with an excellent bark. Rodney knows how to bring out a good balance of smoke flavor without going too far. As with the brisket, there is enough fat to give them moisture, but you won’t worry whether your cardiologist is working late that night. These too are dry-rubbed, so if you are expecting something drenched in sauce, you are going to be disappointed. Personally, I like to be able to taste the more subtle sweet/salty flavors in the meat, and add sauce from the side as needed. If you grew up in Texas, ask for some slices of white bread and you’ll feel like you are home.

The lamb ribs and shoulder are frequently available, simply dry-rubbed with a bit of salt and pepper, letting them speak for themselves. The meat is rich and slightly gamy; you can still taste the meadow in the lamb.

Podnah's Prime Rib

Podnah’s Prime Rib

On Saturday nights, Rodney cooks prime rib, smoking it slowly for hours. I’d never had it this way, and was interested to see what it would be like. The texture is slightly different. It looks almost dry, but the smoking and cooking process renders the fat, making it absorb a bit. The end result is an explosion of flavors, smells and textures. I’ve had the same cut in many restaurants at twice the cost, but most weren’t nearly as good. Frequently, when you order prime rib, by the time you get through all of the fat, there’s not much left. At Podnah’s, the balance is perfect.

Daily specials are also available. The current list is:

All day service industry happy hour / Beef Ribs after 5pm

All day rib and draft happy hour

Fried chicken after 5pm

Smoked lamb ribs and shoulder after 5pm

Fried Catfish after 5pm

Southern Brunch 9am-1pm / smoked prime rib after 5pm

Southern Brunch 9am-1pm / smoked pork chop after 5pm

Nothing goes better after good barbecue than pecan pie. Podnah’s version is one of the best I’ve had, a flaky crust and simple buttery pecan goodness, warmed to just the right temperature, with a pillows of cold “whoop” putting it all to bed. For the nostalgia minded, try the banana pudding with ‘Nilla wafers.

BBQ is highly regional, and folks need to realize that Rodney’s version of sauce, or dry rub, of coleslaw or any of the other dishes, may not be what they grew up with. Some folks have told me they didn’t like the food at all, that it isn’t like anything they had “back home”. To this there isn’t much I can say – it’s like any other cuisine, tainted by the heart. Maybe it’s because I sit there thinking about my early days in Texas, Bessie Smith singing Careless Love in my mind, but to me, this is the best barbecue on the west coast. That’s all that matters.

Highly recommended

  • Phone: (503) 281-3700
  • Address: 1625f NE Killingsworth, Portland, OR. 97211
  • Hours: Sun – Thurs 11am -9am. Fri -Sat noon – 9pm. Breakfast Sat & Sun 9am – 1pm.
  • Website:
  • Price: Moderate – 1/2 rack $19.50, pulled pork, brisket and trout in $12 – $15 range including sides
  • Noise level: moderate
  • Twitter: @PodnahsPit

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. vicki says

    Yo mention you grew up in a suburb of LA. Well, I grew up in LA too, probably quite a few years earlier than you did, but there was a barbecue place on the corner of Wilshire and Cochran that did barbecue -called the Flying Saucer (this was in the ’50s). It’s long since closed but I still dream of their barbecue sauce. It was tomato based and smoky, not at all sweet. They used to sell it by the bottle – at the restaurant only — and I that’s one flavor memory that will forever remain with me. I’ve tried barbecue after barbecue over the years and never found one that even approached it. FD, did you, by any chance, ever eat there? PS: Your post about Podnah’s is great! I’ll definitely try it.

  2. says

    Beautiful writing, Dude.
    More LA bbq memories: Dad’s, on Pico near Robertson. Spicy-sweet sauce, tender pork ribs, heaven. I showed up on my birthday one year, to get take-out, and it had closed. I just stood there, for 30 minutes, asking everyone who passed, “Where did Dad go?” He’d retired, people said, and then we all just kept standing there, looking at the closed store, in mourning.

  3. Greg P says

    Dude, I’m not even into barbecue, but your story and review makes me want to go here. Your writing is what makes me come to this site. I’m either educated or entertained. I may not always agree with your reviews, as you say, everyone has different tastes. Either way, it’s all good. Stuff like this makes the newspaper reviewers look really bad.

  4. Gretchen says

    You sucked me in on the storytelling and made me hungry for more….I will definitely eye the “bark” at this place, and just so you know, you had me at “crick”…..

  5. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    This is just damn good writing. Period. I love this review on so many levels. Besides really capturing what Podnah’s does well, where they could improve, etc, this review highlights how food is more than food – it is sometimes at the core of what makes us who we are. For those of us with deep southern roots, BBQ is not only about good food. It’s about strong cultural identity, and memory, and family. Podnah’s has great BBQ and captures what BBQ joints in the south are all about, but food dude vividly explains a whole other element of BBQ that is near and dear to my heart.

    Brought a little tear to my eye thinking about my own southern grandparents and time spent in the rural south.

    Damn. Thank you. Need to go get pork sandwitch. Now.

  6. says

    Thanks for the nice review Dude.
    That really brought back some memories seeing downtown Maypearl. I haven’t been there in about 25 years and I bet not much has changed since that photo was taken.
    I remember it was always a treat to go to Campbells Feed Store because we could usually talk my dad into buying some baby chickens to take home as pets. Our house could be a real zoo at times.

    It’s taken me a little while to get my crust back on the pie but I think you’ll be happy when you try it again. And the crisp has made some progress over the last week also.

    Thanks again
    Podnah’s Pit Barbecue

  7. says

    I forgot to add one funny thing. For those of you looking for our space and you spot the steamy windows you’ll notice that our Anchor distributor recently gave us a neon and all it says, appropriately, is “Steam”.


  8. says

    You’d think that after 7 or so years of Texas living I’d know where Maypearl is. Perhaps not. Anyhow I looked it up — I had a college roomate from Waxahachie so I generally know the area but have never been to Maypearl itself.

    I’m not sure if I just missed it or if it’s not in there — what wood you feeding the smoker?

    And though I haven’t been there yet, I’ll agree with FD in advance about you (Rodney) taking control of the menu. The best BBQ places I’ve been to don’t mess around with a bunch of different sauces (maybe three tops) and my favorite (Luling City Market in Houston) has only one sauce (which is great) and their four or so sides are mostly crap. But I’m a meat guy, so if you’ve got that down than I’m happy.

  9. Paul Gerald says

    “A living room we weren’t allowed to use”! Ya had me from then on. I don’t know if that’s just a Southern thing, but to this day, all my Mississippi kin have a room that’s only for when folks come over to “visit.”

    I am embarrassed to to realize this place is within 10 blocks of my home, and I had no idea it existed. I just might eat there today!

    Thanks for a fun review, Dude.

  10. Carrol says

    Oh, my. You took me right back to my summers in Glen Rose, Texas—just a bit west of Maypearl. I can’t wait to try Podnah’s. Thanks for a perfectly charming (and typically intelligent and useful) review.

  11. DR says

    I have been several times (as it is in my “hood”) and have grown to love it. I think the Brisket sandwiches are much better than my previous favorite spot – Lagniappe.

    The only thing that I truly have not enjoyed is the Potato Salad. So far the other sides have been great, but I’m still trying them all out.

    So happy to have more chocies here on NE Prescott.

    Maybe I’ll try the Apple Crisp today!

  12. says

    Oh, maaaaan. I should have known not to read this when I was already starving for lunch and have tons of work to do, so can’t venture over there.

    Beautiful writing, nicely done.

  13. pdxeater says

    People who grew up in hick places unite!

    Great write-up, I especially appreciate the word out about the sides. It’s been driving me crazy that people who judge a sushi restaurant by its spider rolls have been lecturing Podnah’s about the sides. I’d like to see a little regional appreciation here. I hope the sides don’t all end up tasting like boring restaurant food with too much butter or mayo just so he can make a living. It’s funny how a place that tries to serve regional Asian food can be so well-loved and talked about, but a restaurant serving regional American food gets bashed because it doesn’t have that god-awful ubiquitous mayo coleslaw or the sauce doesn’t taste like KC Masterpiece or what’s at their local boilngrill ribs place.

  14. Food Dude says

    Thanks ya’ll for the compliments. I shure do ‘ppreciate them. This continues my New Years resolution of writing whatever the hell I want.

    I’m in the process of tweaking site colors – yes, going to basic white. Comments will look weird for a while.

  15. Marshall Manning says

    We finally visited on Sunday, and had an excellent lunch. Carolyn had the ribs, which were top notch, and I had the brisket sandwich, which was also excellent. I know BBQ is one of those things where everyone feels like the “right” way is the way it’s done where they are from, but since I’m from the Bay Area, I have no preconceived notions. I just want the meat to taste good by itself, with balanced smoke, and for a light coating of sauce to complement the taste of the meat. Rodney’s Q does all of this without the sauce being too sweet, and the meat is still juicy and flavorful. I thought the potato salad side was very good, but it’s not the focus of the meal, anyway, so if it’s not your style, enjoy what you went there for…the meat!!

  16. Hunter says

    I’m interested to know what style this place focuses on. Being from the south (Alabama, Georgia, TX and NC) I’ve probably tried most of the styles. But from what I see, there are reflections of multiple styles on the menu. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but interesting.

  17. Carolyn says

    MMmmmm … MEAT! Rodney is the BBQ king! We enjoyed LOW, but really understood Rodney’s true genius a few summers ago when he smoked an entire 80-lb pig for Marshall’s 40th birthday party. It was a gustatory experience beyond belief! Every bite was beyond excellent. And upon the closure of LOW, I’ve been dreaming of Rodney’s perfect BBQ .. slow cooked, smokey perfection!

    AS IF I’d have room for dessert after the filling portions served up at Podnah’s … you might want to try a good, oldfashioned Red Velvet Cake with buttercream frosting instead of the apple crisp. Just done in a sheet pan, it would be a slightly lighter, yet traditional ending to the perfect BBQ meal … at least until watermelon season.

  18. Bigfoot says

    Who knew so many of us had Texas roots?

    Seriously, the part of Texas I come form is not a BBQ hotspot, but my grandmother lived about 15 miles outside of Lockhart. For the serious cue fan, Lockhart is home to some of the best there is.

    We took it for granted as a child, but now I really do miss that place. Until Rodney’s joint (that’s what we call them down there) opened up, I avoided most Portland BBQ. I now have a new home!

    We went Saturday and I enjoyed the best brisket sandwich this side of central Texas. Nothing but meat and bun with sauce on the side IF you wanted it. I had the pinto beans for a side and they were very authentic and tasty. My partner had pulled pork on a bun (he’s from Virginia and that’s what they tend to BBQ). he declared it the best he has had in years.

    We were so stuffed that we took our Pecan pie home for later. It was fantastic as well.

    Only two things could be better. They gotta get Lone Star Beer and they need Blue Bell ice cream to serve on the pie. The beer isn’t all that great, but it’s the “national beer of Texas”. Blue Bell, well anyone who has eatten it knows there is nothing else to compare!

    Thanks Rodney, we will be back for sure!

  19. Hunter says

    Surely, you’re not forgetting Shiner.

    Is the BBQ really Texas though? Having grown up in Alabama, Georgia, NC and Texas I see elements of different regions in that menu.

  20. Bigfoot says

    Shiner is for the city crowd (goat ropers we called them). Lone Star rules in the country and at the BBQ pits. The brisket is for sure Texas. I agree the pork is not, in all my years in Texas I never saw pork at any BBQ joint. A classic Texas BBQ plate would be brisket, sausage, chiken, pinto beans, potato salad and a couple of pieces of white bread slapped on top to “sop up the goodness.” That said, this is as close as I’ve come in PDX.

  21. tunafishboy says

    Food Dude,

    I went to seminary in Kansas City, MO and became acquainted with “burnt end sandwiches.” Not a single BBQ place in PDX has heard of them. Perhaps your readers might help me out?

    And by the way, you are one HELL of a writer.

  22. Food Dude says

    Tunafishboy, welcome to the site (and thanks for the compliment!) I don’t know of anyone in Portland that serves burnt ends specifically, or at least not any more. Perhaps someone else will have an answer for you.

  23. LadyConcierge says

    Dude, my company will send you a bill for my laptop I just ruined drooling all over the keyboard. I’ve been meaning to get to Podnah’s; this was the kick in the ass I needed….going tomorrow for lunch.

    What’s “cold whoop”?

  24. syrah girl says

    Excellent read, you are a very talented writer and a kind person, also. I have added this place to our list for next visit to Portland in the Spring. My husband and daughter love BBQ ribs, now we must try them here. Portland is lucky to have you around, Food Dude! :)

  25. LadyConcierge says

    Yay, made it to Podnah’s for lunch today with my sis and Brian in tow. Not much of a lunch menu, but all I wanted was there: Brisket and Pulled Pork. No greens, tho, on the lunch menu

    I ordered the Brisket sandwich with Original coleslaw (no yucky mayo). Yummy yum yum. A little bit of char on the outside, pink on the inside, with almost the right amount of perfectly melty fat ribboning through. A few bites with no fat were kinda dry. I did doctor it up a bit with the table BBQ sauce and a drop or 2 of Tobasco. So shoot me. The coleslaw was ok, good enough, but I’m not a huge coleslaw fan anyway so it doesn’t matter. I did like it a lot better than most coleslaw I’ve tried.

    Brian had the Pulled Pork sand with potato salad and Jen had the 1/4 chicken, also with the coleslaw. I only managed one teensy bit of the pulled pork, and I really couldn’t separate the taste from the brisket already permeating my palate. Brian said it was perfect, just what he wanted. He thought the potato salad needed bacon (he thinks this about everything) and whole grain mustard. They brought out a squeezy bottle of their spicy mustard sauce, which wasn’t so spicy to me, but enhanced the flavor of the potato salad nicely. Jen’s chicken was good, too, but I only got to try a matchstick sized piece left hanging from the bones after she was done. Packed with flavor even in that little bit.

    We also shared a slab o’ cornbread with butter and honey. I thought it’d be a little crisp on the outside because of the dark brown color, but nope. It was dense and not too sweet.

    We arrived around 12:20, and there were 2 tables occupied, one with 3 girls, the other with a lone woman. One of the 3 girls had the ribs, which I hope Brian orders next time. They looked fabulous and meaty with notable bark. As we were eating, two more 2 tops came in, then a party of 6 as we left. We came at just the right time. We were in the car by 1:05, and our lunch felt leisurely. All in all a great experience. I want to go back for dinner to try the greens and the brisket plate. (No prime rib as I will always be working Friday and Saturday nights. ) As it stands after my first visit, LOW still wins for brisket.

  26. says

    Went last night to get a menu and grab some carryout. Place was hopping; carryout orders were flying out the door & every table was full.

    The ribs *were* fabulous – but we were told by a woman waiting for her order (who’d obviously been there a few times) that the brisket was to die for and we ought to definitely get some next time.

    Oh, and the greens? Had huge chunks of pork in them, yum. Cornbread was also right on the money.

  27. vicki says

    I was that “lone woman” eating brisket barbecue on Friday around 12:30 — hi there! Maybe we ought to have some kind of identification when we try out recommended restaurants! I was on my way from Here to There as I usually am on Fridays, one of my non-work days. Yes, the barbecue briskit was excellent. Even the cotton-bread roll it was on worked nicely. My coleslaw side was excellent, vineger instead of a lot of sugar and mayo. I ate almost all of it. Big portions!

    I have no Texas ancestors, but I love good barbecue.

  28. Food Dude says

    Actually.. I’ve never done them, but I always thought it would be fun. I’d love to walk into a restaurant and see a few people wearing the shirts ;) Or maybe just something with the site name so people could identify each other; help build community.

  29. RM says

    We had the Prime Rib for Two, some pintos & cornbread. Wonderful meat, perfectly cooked and plenty for two good eaters and the sides were great. Maybe next time I’ll save some room for the pecan pie.

    Haven’t had their brisket since the night that LOW@Apizza closed. Now that I’ve done the Prime Rib thing, I’ll be back to get some BBQ.

  30. vicki says

    Waaal…if you don’t have a reader that’ll volunteer, I know someone – a graphic designer – who designs nifty T-shirts. It’ll cost, tho. If you’re interested, I’ll contact her. Or put you in contact with her, whatever.

  31. Food Dude says

    -s: From what I hear, you wouldn’t be the first to try that line. One time I got an irate letter from a restaurant owner telling me never to come back after someone tried it.

  32. says

    If I wear the t-shirt, does it reduce the impact of when I say “but I’m the Food Dude!!” in response to poor service?

    Wait, shouldn’t have said that…

  33. kelly says

    I went shortly after your review, which was well before the Wilamette one, thankfully, as I imagine they’re really slammed now. Being from Arkansas (no jokes please) I have pined for good que for many, many years. Upon my first bite of brisket my eyes filled with tears it was so good, and so much “like home”. Thanks for finding this place and sharing.

  34. Flask Mama says

    Took the hubby and kids this weekend. FABULOUS. Except of course this was the day my eight-year-old informed us that she was now a vegitarian. So she had the iceberg salad and some cornbread and we had the lunch sandwiches and happily didn’t have to share! The potato salad was great, just like how my gramps from Louisiana used to make!

  35. Fuel for Fire says

    Finally set a date for Podnah’s and went there last night (Valentine’s Day) with my dining partner. (What is more romantic than hot meat with sauce? Nothing.)

    I was thoroghly satisfied. Good recommendation.

    However, being that my parents are from South Texas and “Tejano”, I thought I would try the “plato Tejano” imagining a plate of meat comingling with beans and, what in my mind is “salsa” but is actually pico de gallo. instead the beans were quarantined away in their own dish and the “salsa” was actually salsa, a chipotle pepper puree-type thing.

    I was a little dissapointed but had to remind myself that it was my mistake, salsa is salsa and pico de gallo is pico de gallo.

    But hey, Podnah’s! How about adding pico de gallo to the menu?

    (Also – FD, the link on side of this page says “Podnah’s Bit BBQ” not “Pit”.)

  36. Doctor Stu says

    I’m new to Portland, so this is the dfirst time I’ve actually seen the real story about “LOW” BBQ. So, is this place better than the LOW BBQ at Ken’s Place once a week or not??!!

  37. Angelhair says

    Doctor Stu:

    Them’s fightin’ words in these parts!

    Why not taste both for yourself and report back?

    Keep in mind, Ken’s/LOW is only open Tuesdays.

  38. Doctor Stu says

    It looks like I will have to try both! I was not impressed with Clay’s, which has some pretty good reviews on Citysearch…

  39. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    This Southern girl, with BBQ fanatic kinfolk can say with confidence that Podnah’s is the real deal. I think it’s the best in Portland hands down, although Low is terrific, just not open all that often.

    Go for dinner if you can.

  40. Doctor Stu says

    Here is the latest…

    Tried Podnah’s this afternoon about 2 PM. Thanks to the article (by Grant Butler in today’s Oregonian) they were out of pulled pork.

    Within a half hour of my wife and I getting there, all they had left (until 5PM) was chicken.

    My wife was a little squemish when her ribs arrived, as she is not used to smoked style BBQ, and though the ribs weren’t cooked enough….until she took a bite.

    I had the brisket and it was FANTASTIC. My wife would only give me one small bite of the ribs, but they were SUPERB!

    Next time we will call ahead to make sure they have the pulled pork left, as we live on the other side of town (86th and Holgate)

    This information comes from an e-mail from Grant Butler:

    From: “Grant Butler”
    Subject: Re: Your BBQ review
    Date: Fri, 09 Mar 2007 12:51:39 -0800
    >Hey Stuart.
    >Nope, there’s no confusion about the two Kens. Originally I was going to include Ken’s Place in the roundup, but decided not to since Ken Gordon is closing the business next month to start a deli downtown in the new Ace Hotel. Their LOW barbecue on Tuesday nights is quite good, but it’s going away soon.
    >Ken Forkish has a terrific pulled pork sandwich on the menu at his bakery in Northwest. It was one of the best I found out there, and certainly was in one of the places you don’t expect to find pulled pork. I highly recommend it.
    >Best regards,
    >Grant Butler
    > >>> “Stuart Schaller” 03/09/07 12:39 PM >>>
    >Dear Grant:
    >I think you got your “Ken’s” mixed up in your review. Ken’s bakery and Ken’s pizza are owned by the same person.
    >Ken’s Place is owned by another person. It is Ken’s place that now owns the LOW BBQ name, but the name was sold to them by the owner of Podnah’s Pit BBQ, who actually was the founder of LOW. Very confusing…
    >Did you actually mean to say Ken’s Place and not Ken’s Bakery in your review

  41. Pork Cop says

    Who really cares? If Ken Gordon canNOT do it… CAN anyone one can DO IT? …Lets face it, he’s a failure in this town……anyway..BUT.He’s from New York?>>>!!

  42. Doctor Stu says

    Pork Chop:

    My point was that Carolina BBQ is very different than Kansas City style BBQ. In the midwest they don’t put the meat in a smoker for 12 hours. The meat is generally put in a low temperature oven for 3 or 4 hours, than based with sauce and cooked over an open flame for about 10-15 minutes. A MUCH different taste, as the sauce is tomato based.

    As to Ken Gordon, I guess he thinks he can make it in Portland with a deli.

  43. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Gentlemen, they most certainly do smoke the meat in KC style BBQ. Furthermore, the length, temperature, and technique of saucing is, despite, Dr. Stu’s statement, debatable. (Sorry Dr Stu).

    If you have any questions about this one, I would suggest taking them up with the Kansas City BBQ Society who have a pretty extensive list of rules and regulations and a whole code defined.

    One thing I’ve learned over the years, what with large family spats over what constitutes real or even real good BBQ, is that there is no one method, type, or definitive approach. This is true even within one region, state, or town for that matter. However, arguing about it seems to be par for the course and can sometimes go on for what seems like hours. At least with my weird ass food obsessed and especially BBQ loving kin folk. Personally, I’m no fan of KC saucy style, but then again I grew up with NC bald as a pig’s ass style, so that’s what I love best.

    Glad you and your wife enjoyed your meal at Podnah’s Dr Stu, as I really do think they are doing a fine good job there. But it doesn’t help me that I have to drive by it almost every night on my way home. I swear I can smell that sweet smoked meat all the way from NE Broadway.

  44. Pork Cop says

    Does Virginia have any BBQ worthy of the name? I’ll be in the Hampton Roads area and I’ll want me some Q and Hushpuppies…..

  45. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Virginia doesn’t even have real BBQ! Wait, sorry, that was me channeling the spirits of my North Carolinian uncles…

    Pork Cop, I have no idea. I’m sure they do somewhere. The Chowhounders can probably steer you in the right direction.

    However, if you want to bring back a real Virginia Country Ham from your visit. Hell yes.

  46. Doctor Stu says

    Bonne Femme: I lived in Europe for most of my life, so I’m no BBQ expert…..but I did live in Chicago from 1954 to 1968, and what was called “Kansas City Style” was never smoked!

    The meat was cooked over wood chips in a big open grill for about 4 hours or so, high from the flame, so I would guess the temperature was around 200 degrees. It was then put about 2-3 inches from the flame and sauced and cooked for about 10 minutes.

    Maybe it isn’t “true” KC style, but that’s what most restaurants called it! A lot of places in the midwest cooked that way.

    There were also a bunch of places that boiled (yuck!) the ribs for about 15 minutes before putting them on the grill.

    Personally, I prefer my ribs a bit crispy, rather than mushy and falling off the bone.

    As to Podnah’s specifically, I give their brisket a 12 out of 10 :) , but their ribs only 8/10. They were out of the pulled pork :(

  47. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Dr Stu,

    Thanks for the background. Just goes to prove my point how effing regional BBQ is. I’m sure the KC BBQers would have a field day ripping on the Chicago “KC Style” BBQers, just as my North Carolinian people always rail against BBQ in Virginia, and other neighboring states.

    But that’s what makes American culture rich, n’est pas?

    Also, I have had BBQ in Europe! In the Basque region of Spain specifically, with some meat that is grilled on large vertical skewer like contraption next to some giant stone fireplaces. It was good, of course. Finally, my once upon a time boyfriend decided to show the locals in Aix en Provence how it’s done – bought a Webber at the local Darty store and we made all kinds of slow smoked stuff. Our guests, outside of one very hungry English guest from Newcastle, were perplexed, especially at the traditional side dishes I made, but there you have it.

    Yeah, the pulled pork at Podnah’s, I dream about that stuff. However, it may not be to everyone’s liking. My advice for you is to go back mid week, and go in the evening.


  48. says

    Just out of curiosity what did your friends in Aix think of bbq? Does perplexed mean they did not care for it? I’ve often wondered how traditional bbq would go over in Europe.


  49. Doctor Stu says

    Bonne Femme:

    I’m not sure if you can really consider that style of basque cooking BBQ, or just slow grilled. Tastes good though ..

    When I lived in Los Angeles I couldn’t find what I would call really good BBQ, although I though the Bear Pit was “OK”..

    Manythought Dr.Hogly Wogly’s Texas BBQ was the best in the world, I thought is was vastly oversauced mostly gristle and fat….I guess to each their own.

  50. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    It just seemed weird to them: First of all there is the messy finger-licking factor, especially for the ribs we did, which just isn’t part of their culture. And then there was the sauce factor which was new for them, And I think the smokiness might have been a bit much. And it has been my experience that a lot of French really have no spice tolerance, so there was that part too.

    We made ribs that we had to get the butcher to specially cut for us, A slow smoked brisket (which turned out well considering the technique we had to use was , um, rigged), and some good old BBQ chicken. The chicken was a hit, ribs not so much (except by very enthusiastic british friend), and brisket was mixed. Everyone was polite, but we didn’t get the RAVES and ooohs and ahs we were expecting. Although Rodney, the French are pretty set in their ways sometimes when it comes to food (Shocking, I know), and giant American style platters of meat just isn’t done much there (which is probably one of the reasons they are so skinny). Also, you know, the culture of BBQ is half of it, and I just don’t think they understood the context and history enough to appreciate it.

    As for sides – I made corn on the cob (yet again another messy finger food thing), greens with pot-licker, A hoppin john type salad (a recipe I inherited from my mother), tomato bread (they liked that as it is sort of like a savory french bread pudding anyway), cornbread (that did not go over well), fried okra (which oddly was the biggest hit of all the sides), vinegar coleslaw (my Grandmother’s secret recipe from the Piedmont area in North Carolina), and both a pecan pie and a peach pie (those, everyone liked).

    Merde, we had a ton of food leftover.

    As for european BBQ. I just don’t think Aix was the right place, nor this the right crowd. Spain would probably go ga-ga over it as they love new stuff, have a culture that eats lots of grilled meat, and are not afraid of the spice…

    Why, you thinking of expanding your world domination empire over there?

  51. Doctor Stu says

    Bonne Femme:

    Maybe if you melted about 4 sticks of butter and soaked the BBQ in it after it was cooked, the French would have liked it better !

    I actually lived in England most of my time in Europe (a total of about 30 years) and they actually think eggs and bacon floating in an inch of lard, and beef boiled all day are good things!

  52. Pork Cop says

    I did a BBQ in China.The sauce didn’t go over too well with the Sicuanese. Too Sweet. If it wasn’t for the sauce they would have loved it. They actually have ribs, brisket, hams and other smoked products very similar to American unsauced Q. Of course, the Sichuanese have no problem with spice. All in all, if I tweeked the sauce a bit it would be a seller. BTW,I hear there is a lot of people over there……

  53. hongisto says

    Just visited Podnah’s based on this review and was quite disappointed. I hate to be critical of anyone with a BBQ operation because I love Q so much, but this food was just not very good. We were there on a Tuesday night at about 6:30. The brisket was very dry, the ribs had little meat and lacked tenderness and the sides were nothing to write home about. I can’t say I cared for the sauces, either, but I will freely admit that sauce is a matter of personal preference. The crew here sounds like nice people (the service was friendly), but based on my experience there, I’d say you’ll eat better BBQ at Buster’s (nevermind Russell St. or Clay’s).

  54. Siegelami says

    hongisto –

    I’m disappointed to hear that you did not enjoy Podna’s BBQ. I’ve eaten there many times and never experienced brisket that was dry or ribs lacking meat. Quite the contrary,the brisket, which is what I normaly eat has always been the most tender and flavorful, in my opinion. I think we can both agree that sides and sauces are a matter of personal taste, but to suggest that Russel St. or Buster’s is even on the same playing field as Podna’s makes me seriously doubt the credibility of your opinion. I’ve had them both and they don’t even come close. I suggest trying Podna’s again.

  55. Doctor Stu says


    I haven’t tried Buster’s or Russel Street yet, but I thought Clays’ was average at best…and IMO, serving a white garlic sauce over half cooked fries was simply disgusting…

  56. hongisto says

    Of course all opinions are just that…opinions…but I’ve eaten a lot of BBQ in my years, from The Rendezvous in Memphis to Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX plus Arthur Bryant’s and Dreamland and a lot of lesser known roadside places in between, so I’m pretty secure about my BBQ perspective. My reference to Buster’s wasn’t to indicate that I think they are the best in town….on the contrary, I was saying that even a high volume chain like Buster’s routinely does better work than I saw last night at Podnuh’s. And I do agree that Clay’s is not the greatest, either. However, to say that Russell St.isn’t on the same playing field as Podnuh’s makes me wonder about your credibility…they might not be spectacular, but they do a very solid job night in and night out…far better than I had at Podnuh’s.
    My take on Podnuh’s last night was a place that has a lot of hipster buzz and no serious BBQ chops. Anyone can cook a brisket until it’s drier than buffet table roast beef, and that’s how my dining partner described my meal.

  57. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Hongisto, sounds like sadly you had a bad experience. I find it puzzling though. I’m telling you, and I too am secure in my BBQ perspective, that Podnah’s has not served me nor my dining companions a bad piece of meat yet. And I’ve eaten there frequently and often.

    Regardless, if you didn’t like it, you didn’t like it; and if you had a bad experience – well I can’t say if you did or didn’t. But to state that Podnah’s has “no serious BBQ chops,” goes so far against what I know that business to be about, that I have to speak up on this one.

    Damn, now I have to go do some “research” there soon to find out if your experience was an anomoly or if pit master Rodney has been abducted by Aliens and replaced by some guy with a convection oven and a blow torch.

  58. hongisto says

    Believe me….despite my criticism, I’m rooting for Rodney and anyone else who makes the attempt to produce Q in a town that doesn’t have much going for it in the BBQ department.

  59. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    I hear you and I’m right there with you, which is why I am so happy (relieved?) that Podnah’s is around.

    It’s just that my multiple experiences at Podnah’s have been so 180 degree different than yours, that I’m puzzled more than anything.

    I’ll go back soon with friends and see how it fares.

  60. Brian Spangler says


    I too strongly suggest giving Podnah’s another chance. I always ask for the deckel (fatty) end of the brisket, so that I do not chance receiving the flat (lean) which can be dry. I have only had dry brisket once from Rodney and that was when I received the flat end of a brisket that either went to far, or the cut of meat did not have a good hand dealt to begin with, which does happen. My favorite new thing to get is the prime rib, which is the best that I have ever had.

  61. Food Dude says

    I have to say, I was at Podnah’s about ten days ago with a couple of friends. We had a fantastic meal. Just thinking about it gets me hungry. He needs an all night walkup window!

  62. Food Dude says

    This is the great thing about food. I don’t think anyone is right or wrong. It is all about how things taste to you. If you like it, that’s all that matters. I like Podnah’s (prime rib is perfect). I haven’t been to Russell St., mainly because I heard the meat there isn’t smoked, just cooked over a grill in the kitchen, getting the flavor from the sauce. Is that wrong? Not if you like it! I walked past a month ago and the place was packed.

  63. Siegelami says

    Hongisto –

    Let me get this straight…you eat at Podnah’s one time, have one dish, and think it’s acceptable to declare that a pit master you know next to nothing about has “no serious BBQ chops!?!” Maybe you should go write for Willamet Week. Also, I take issue with your “hipster buzz” comment. I’ve been talking up Podnah’s since it opened, and am certainly NOT a hipster. I must also echo Brian’s comment from above about some brisket’s not being dealt a good hand. If I’m correct, Podnah’s uses Strawberry Mtn. beef, which is awesome, but at times wildly inconsistent. I use their product often and love it, but when cattle from many different ranches is being sold under one brand name, one needs to accept the possibility that a brisket or two out of the lot might not be as well endowed as the others. All joking and blog warfare aside, however, I implore you to give Podnah’s another chance. They cook with love, and my friend, there is no better way to do it…

  64. hongisto says

    All this loyalty must be earned, so I’ll probably give Podnah’s another chance. I do want to be accurate, Siegelami….it was just one visit, but I sampled brisket, ribs, pulled pork and four sides. I think that’s a pretty fair selection to form an opinion. I don’t claim to be a restaurant reviewer with protocols of multiple visits, etc., but as far as I know, neither are you. I would say I’ve eaten more world class BBQ than most, and the food on my visit simply did not come close to living up to all the raves I had heard. It’s nice to be slammed for offering my opinion.

  65. hongisto says

    One more thought in response to Siegelami’s post….I realize it is the height of foodie fashion to know and obsess on everything about a chef down to the color of his/her underwear, but I don’t think it matters if I “know next to nothing about” (which may or may not be true as far as you know) a chef/pitmaster…it’s all about the food. I don’t really care if someone is Escoffier’s secret great grandson if he can’t make toast. I’ll still want to eat breakfast somewhere else.

  66. hongisto says

    As far as Russell St., I think your scouting report has a grain of truth to it….I do believe that the Baby Backs are braised and finished on the grill (not what I’d consider BBQ, either), but the brisket, the beef ribs and the turkey are all smoked. Not sure how they prep the pulled pork. I’m interested to try Podnah’s prime rib….I don’t usually care for prime rib, but I recenlty had some incredible smoked prime rib in Franklin, TN at a place called Saffire, so I know the result can be fantastic.

  67. Justine says


    I had a similar experience to yours at Podnah’s. I only had the brisket sandwich and a side of pinto beans but I didn’t finish the sandwich – it was just too dry and not enough flavor to make me want to eat the whole thing. And I guess I could ask for the juicier end like Brian does but that begs the question – who ends up with the dry end? The dog? Unknowing customers?

    I thought the pinto beans had no flavor at all… it made me yearn for the old Campbell’s. I have no street cred on BBQ – been to Texas a few times and toured the south but not like most people here but I just didn’t like it. I’ll go again and try the ribs and like you say so many people rave about it it demands a second try.

  68. Sir Loins says

    All this fussin’ reminds me of what an old friend back in GA used to say: “When it comes to barbecue, everyone is a g–damn expert.”

  69. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Happy to report Podnah’s is as good as always – no dry meat to be found on my visit. Also did a little scan of the joint- and there was not one plate in the full house that had any meat left over. I take this as a good sign.

    They did run out of Pulled Pork way too early though.

  70. Doctor Stu says

    Seems the best time to go is around 6PM, when they still have the pulled pork.

    Quite frankly, there are other styles of BBQ I like better. I like a sauce that is about 30-40% tomato based, and basted into the meat for a while….a balance of smoke, fire, and sauce….but this is the best place I have been anywhere in the US for THIS style of BBQ…

  71. Shannon Smith says

    Food Dude: Great review. I’m inspired to take my Dad to Podnah’s tomorrow before we go on a salmon fishing excursion this weekend. I really enjoyed your description of Maypearl. I spent my summers on a ranch in Jayton, Texas (Pop. 500), so I could definitely relate. I also grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles (Granada Hills). Anyhow, send me an email. It would be cool to chat about our mutual former hometowns and the our new one here in the Rose City. I’m into food, beer, music, and much else. I’d love to hear from you. Keep up the writing!

  72. Brad Newswith says

    Tried Podnah’s out last night. The brisket was very good, not dry like I read in some of the prior comments. Collared greens were PERFECT and the pecan pie absolutely hit the spot. Felt a little bit of the hipster vibe, mostly from my server guy who suggested the brisket to me as being “pretty awesome,” but who was also very personable. Place was quite busy for Easter Sunday, so I figured the hype must be true. Great selection of beers on tap and in the bottle but I chose the “Moxie” purely because no other place seems to carry it!! Will be back!

  73. Cuisine Bonne Femme says

    Mob scene at Podnah’s tonight.

    Drove by at 5:30PM. Place was packed with line out the door and lots of people waiting on sidewalk.

    Drove by again at 7:30PM. Empty and closed with lights off and chairs on tables. Sign on door: Sorry Sold Out.

    That’s insane.

  74. suds sister says

    Mob scene everywhere tonight. We ended up at Pause on Interstate. What a crappy, crappy place. I will never go in there again.

  75. Ellie says

    Sudsy –

    I live right around the corner from Pause, and unfortunately, I agree with your above comment. That being said, they do have a rotating cask conditioned beer, so I end up there once a week or so. The caesar is edible, too, and the sliders are not so bad. They are child-friendly, so the place is usually packed with neighborhood folk.

  76. lexuh says

    I sent my husband to fetch take-out from Podnah’s last Wednesday night. We’d tried to go once before, but were frustrated by the lack of chicken (husband doesn’t eat beef or pork) and had to leave.

    This time, I was ready for some good BBQ lovin’. While my brisket sandwich was excellent, with perfectly cooked meat and a soft yet resilient bun, the cornbread was chokingly dry. My husband’s half chicken was, well, not impressive. Somewhat dry, the skin was crispy but the meat didn’t have much flavor. He ordered the original cole slaw on my recommendation, and proceeded to condemn me for it. Too strong and sharp-tasting, but I fully expect that’s a personal preference.

    I’d definitely go back for the brisket, but the chicken seems to be an afterthought. The server he chatted with while picking up our order said that they run out of it a lot, because the demand is so variable. Too bad, since I’ll have to find another beef-eating dining partner to go with, and those are thin on the ground in my circle of acquaintances.

  77. Ihearteating says

    Full disclosure, we hail from the GA/NC BBQ bent, but our many trips to austin for SXSW have turned us onto beef, as well. On a recent trip we had pork ribs, pulled pork and brisket. The brisket was the only thing worth writing home about. The pulled pork was very dry. Well, and I did love the iceberge wedge and pecan pie!

    So, I thought I’d give a plug for Harold’s on Killingsworth, which with only one visit to Podnahs and many to Harolds, we like Harolds a little better. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still support Podnahs, it does have many things going for it, especially the good beer to go with the BBQ!

  78. wheezemeyer says

    Podnah’s is now serving breakfast on the weekends from 8:OO am to 1:00pm. I went as part of a four top on Sunday, 9/23 for a “practice run”. The chanterelle hash was out of this world with wonderful sweet/earthy chanterelle goodness balanced by delicious savory potatos and perfectly incorporated eggs. The biscuits & Gravy are simpy the best I’ve ever had. The biscuits were substancial, yet light and flaky and chalked full of wonderful buttery/yeasty goodness. The gravy is just what you would expect from a porkmaster – rich, but balanced with plenty of mildly spicy chunks of pork sausage delivering much more depth than most gravys. Podnah’s should be officially up and running for breakfast by the first weekend in October. Porkland, uh Portland has a great new option for hearty, simple but honest savory breakfasts.

  79. uncahal says

    Hey, I’m a newbie. For my virgin posting here I need a bit of info @ Podnah’s Pit. They won’t answer their phone.
    I’m a disabled older gentleman who’s only mode of transport is LIFT. I call and reserve a ride and a ride back home. It is wonderful an it is very cheap but the cons are you end up with a huge wait for a return ride alot of the time.So what the hell does this have to do with Podnah’sPit?
    I need for someone/anyone to explain to me what happens on Tuesdays to ake it so happy? Will I get a price break or cheap Anchor Steam or wot? The website will not any blue ribbon for information. Also, is dinner served at specific times or what? I don’t want to get ther at noon and find out all I can get is the lunch menu.
    I’m more than ready to try this place but need some answers. Thank you so much,

  80. MyNextMeal says

    Based on my disappointment at dinner last night, I’d have to agree with the recent “down-arrow” that FoodDude has given Podnahs.

    About 4-weeks ago, I had dinner there for the first time. The brisket and pulled pork were great.

    Last night, the brisket was extremely fatty and flavor was lacking. It was sorta smoky but not really. The crispy bits at the edges were completely missing. The chicken was alright, but we had really come to enjoy the brisket. The iceberg wedge with blue cheese dressing was the best part of the meal.

    Since I’m not a meat eater in general, I usually only go eat BBQ with friends in tow. But I probably won’t be back unless I hear that the quality or consistency has improved.

  81. pdx_foodie says

    My husband and I have eaten lunch quite frequently at Podnah’s since it opened. We have usually enjoyed our dining experience but lately, I’ve noticed a decrease in both quality of food as well as service. Yesterday was the last dining straw for us. After arriving at 12:15pm (on a Wednesday), the restaurant was about half full. We waited a good 5 minutes before being acknowledged by the server. He told us he’d “be right with us”. A few minutes later, he re-emerged, not to take a drink or food order, but to begin clearing and cleaning tables (remember, the restaurant wasn’t even full). Finally I asked him if he could take our order. He seemed completely surprised that I’d ask such a question. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich, my husband ordered the same. The waiter then informed us that my order would be the last pulled pork of the day. I fully understand the demand for good food and how it’s becoming pretty common to run out of food items that are in demand, but every time I go to Podnah’s, they are out of major menu items. This was EARLY in the lunch hour. If pulled pork is your specialty, and you consistently run out, MAKE MORE! I go to bbq joints for bbq, which to me (and apparently to a lot of others) is pork. Now, maybe it was because I got the last pulled pork sandwich, but it was rather fatty and the center was really really moist to the point that the meat took on a mushy texture. Oh, and I completely agree with ‘LUXUH’ above. The cornbread was so dry! I warned my husband he’d need more water to finish a bite of it.

    So, after the poor service, limited availability of items on the menu and disappointing pulled pork, I unfortunately don’t think I’ll be back to Podnah’s for quite a while. I noticed that Food Dude added the ‘down arrow’ to his review as well so maybe he has had a similar experience.

  82. LadyConcierge says

    pdx_foodie, I couldn’t tell from your post if you are aware that lunch service is made up of meat leftover from the previous night’s dinner.

  83. says

    I couldn’t agree more with you there….best breakfast i’ve had since before simpatica’s line days

    To bitch about lack of available meats on a Saturday afternoon after what, 3 months in a row of Über press is just plain ignorant….there IS ONLY so much 1 man can do…in order to pay more men to do it….he’d have to raise prices which Portland will not tolerate. Rodney has so many regulars because he cares so much about his product…sure he hasn’t been perfect lately. Trying to please the masses who don’t care about quality, only care they saw a pretty picture of him in some magazine, is not an easy job. And poor service in a bbq joint…..for real?

  84. reflexblue says

    I don’t want to know what makes Podnah’s grits so good. They’re too good not to be bad. Arguably, the best in Portland, but I haven’t been to Screen Door.

  85. LadyConcierge says

    Stopped by last night for dinner after cruising Wildfire and discovering it was closed. It was a little warmer than outside in there, but not much. For the first dinner experience, it wasn’t very good. Ordered the wedge salad with blue cheese, brisket plate with greens and cornbread for me, pork spareribs with greens and beans for him. B was of the opinion nothing was cooked long enough. Greens for sure. They needed another 2 hours or so to get the tenderness desired and subdue the bitterness. Almost too bitter for me to eat. The brisket was dry and tough. I ate maybe 3 bites, and this is unusual for me and brisket. I liked the cornbread the best of my meal. B’s beans were okay, but needed a lot of salt. The beans were different than before, too, way thick, almost mashed. Previous visits the beans had been in a lot of liquid and were whole. The ribs were tasty enough, but a little chewier than before.

    Service was weird. I don’t expect much at a bbq joint, but leaving our empty salad plate the whole time on the table was unacceptable to me. He was at our table enough times, bringing more napkins, etc, that to remove it would be obvious. We’re pretty much crossing it off the list for a dinner option.

  86. onetart says

    I have to say, we’ve recently had some really delicious lamb spare ribs there. Sorry to hear about the less-than-stellar experiences – I like Rodney, and wish him well. Anyone have the scoop on what’s going on?

  87. foodindustryveteran says

    I recently found this web-site and after looking through it had to go check out your review of my all time favorite spot for what I call a home cooked meal in this beautiful city of Portland.


    After reading your story and review I realized that we were definatly on the same page when it comes to food. Your story was well written and brought back memories and emotions of my own child-hood. While I grew up here in Oregon, I truly believe that you do not have to be from Texas to understand real BBQ.

    My Grandfather had a secret BBQ sauce that would make any Texan proud and other then my own recreation of grandpa’s sweet and spicy deliciousness, which has finally been perfected by many years of trial and error. Podnah’s is the closest thing I have found to that gloryious sauce anywhere.

    I have been through the menu here many times, and plan to continue until the day I die.

    Thank you Rodney, keep up the good work!

  88. says

    Went to Podnah’s on Sunday for dinner. I think they deserve an arrow going upwards. I’ve skipped out on the pulled pork for the last year or so since it didn’t meet expectations of how he used to do it. Once the press started it seemed they stopped using as much chili flakes in the vinegar while pulling the pork and took away the containers of chili flake vinegar sauce on the tables. I’m assuming he had too many complaints that it was too spicey or something. The pulled pork was perfect, just the right amount of kick, perfectly moist not too much bark & the sauce was back on the table! The brisket was moist with a beautiful ring of smoke, we asked for the fatty end & they did not dissapoint. Greens & beans were pefectly cooked & tastier than I remember them being.

    Podnah’s dinner is back in my rotation.

  89. lphoto says

    Anybody got any ideas or recipes on how Podnah’s bbg makes that endorphin producing coleslaw???? It is a must have.

  90. Nicole says

    this place is not worth the visit! we walk into the restaurant to put our name on the wait list and was RUDELY welcomed by the waiter who told us to “Move out of the way so I can WORK!” What a great first impression. I understand that we all have our rough days at work but when you are working as a WAITER you need to put that stuff on the back burner. If you can’t handle the heat, get out the kitchen! I was pretty disappointed that this guy had to ruin our experience. Will we go back? I don’t think so. Considering the other posts, we didn’t miss out on much.

  91. Phillip Houston says

    South Carolina native here. Here are my thoughts:

    BBQ – way too salty and at times overdone. The sauce choices are fair with the pepper vinegar being the best. If I eat more than 2 ribs I get a bit queasy. Not sure what spice is doing it but something is.
    Grade: B

    Side – not very good in my humble opinion. The slaw is tasteless and the beans have very little seasoning at all. The collards are good but the cornbread is NOT cornbread. BTW, where’s the white bread?
    Grade: C-

    Service – just freaking poor. Servers are mostly hipster doufuses.
    Grade: D

    Accommodations – feels good and plain like a BBQ joint should.
    Grade: A.

    Overall I think they have tons of promise but miss the mark for ME. Hey, maybe it’s me. Still, no one else in town comes even close.

  92. says

    Not worth the money! Sides are not seasoned well and brisket (which for me is the chief indicator of quality pit work) was dry and thankfully small portioned. What a shame. Please don’t be fooled. Actual Texas BBQ is much better. on a kinder note, at least they carry Big Red soda!

  93. Techchef says

    Don’t waste your time or money at this joint.
    This is one of the worst operations in town. Over priced for very salty or too much vinegar. They don’t seem to be able to figure out how to season food. Or cook it right. The brisket was underdone and salty. They ran out of pork ribs after we ordered. That was fine. except they took another 45 min to give us lousy brisket, salads and cornbread. I have been here twice and have been disappointed both times. I cooked from Oregon to Florida and back. This place is one of the worst in Portland. Go to Clays, or russel street or anywhere and you will be better taken care of in service and food quality then this place. These guys are SHOEMAKERS on all counts.

  94. One Swell Foop says

    I have to ask…..where did the name for the place come from? Is it just a really poor phonetic interpretation of how someone from Texas or the South is supposed to say partner?

    • PtH says

      @One Fell Swoop,
      Ouch… :-/ No the name is not a trite over-exaggeration of the way Southerners are “supposed to talk”. Yes, it is a real person. Rodney’s beloved Grandfather. The restaurant is named in honor of him as an hommage to his legacy in their small Texas home town where all the towns people simply called him Partner (which, yes, is actually pronounced Podnah).
      A little quick google search would have found this story recounted many times in the press from Rodney. Or simply asking before throwing out the jab, would have shown reverent respect for a man’s loved one who meant the world to him.

      • One Swell Foop says

        It wasn’t really a jab. I’m from the south, live here currently, and am well aware of how people in the south and in Texas pronounce things. I still consider it a poor phonetic interpretation. My feelings on how someone chooses to spell someone’s nickname have nothing to do with that person’s memory.

    • PtH says

      And my apologies to YOU if that is not the way you meant it. Rodney is a dear friend and I just felt a little sting when I read that. I hope you didn’t mean anything by it, and I’m sorry if I came off too harshly.

  95. says

    Loved your tales of summers spent in Maypearl, Texas. It resonated for me a bit…I spent plenty of childhood time with my Texas relatives in Cuero-in DeWitt Co.; one of the first stops on the Chisolm Trail. Luckily for me , I have those memories as you obviously do too. Some back to age 4! My blog tells some of those old stories . Don’t you just love history…even if it’s your own? By the way…Texas BBQ is the only BBQ! My first trip to Kreitz Market was at 5 years old!

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