"Just Say No to Clam Chowder – Eat BBQ," proclaimed the moveable-letter sign outside Bonepile in Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast. While no sensible Roadfooder would focus on barbecue while traveling Highway 101, the superabundance of excellent seafood, including chowder, on the route does occasionally inspire yearning for something different. Should that yearning strike between Newport and Lincoln City, check out the Bonepile. Here you find a kitchen that uses locally-harvested alder wood to smoke brisket, pork, chicken, St. Louis ribs and baby backs, and offers half-pound hamburgers of beef and pork. Nary a fish dish in sight (although a shrimp crab boil is offered Saturday nights in the summer; and occasionally the smoker is used on local seafood); and in case you don't get the message, the menu says, "No Tofu For You." At Bonepile, it's meat that matters.
The St. Louis ribs are big and full-flavored, albeit a serious chew; and the brisket is sheer fatty luxury. Among the sandwiches is one known as the SOB: a splayed-open torpedo loaf filled with a mix of all the barbecued meats, sopped with spicy red sauce: a good-tasting mess of a meal. I was particularly impressed with side dishes. Bonepile beans are liberally laced with meat, sweet and cumin-perfumed, with maybe even a dash of curry. Cole slaw is crisp and refreshing, as is black eyed pea salad. Corn bread comes with honey butter. And the fruit pies, available in down-sized form to satisfy two normal appetites or one serious dessert-o-phile, are big-flavored Oregon beauties.
As you might expect from the sign outside, Bonepile is an aggressively fun sort of place, every inch of wall space covered with a collection of pop-culture ephemera that includes cartoons, movie posters, portraits of famous people and complete unknowns, a Moon Pie box, and a "Miracle Jesus" action figure with glow-in-the-dark hands.