Barbecue is not foremost among New Orleans’ copious culinary virtues, but this Bywater outpost practices the art of smoke-cooking with aplomb. You can smell that it is on the beam when you approach – the air is filled with the sweet perfume of smoldering wood and cooking meats – and it sure looks the part. It really is a joint, a shack, a conscientiously tumbledown corner shop with a menu pared to essentials: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and sausages are the meats. On the side: mac ‘n’ cheese, barbecue beans, potato salad, cole slaw. For dessert: pecan, Key lime, or peanut butter pie.
Ribs are outstanding. They are not exactly fall-off-the-bone tender, but that’s OK, because there is all the more pleasure in gnawing. Not that there’s anything tough or gristly here, not at all. It’s just that these ribs are a joy to chew, releasing tides of smoky-sweet barbecue pork flavor. Sliced brisket tends to be dry, a situation remedied by application of one of two available sauces, either tomato-based slightly spicy or Carolina-style tangy vinegar. Of themselves, the sauces are not memorable, but in concert with the meats, they git ‘er done. Huge, comely Cajun sausages are smoked here, arriving with bursting-taught skin that demands sharp knife-work to sever a disk. Inside is spicy, herbed pork that glistens delectably.
Mac ‘n’ cheese is dense, rib-sticking good, potato salad is cool and creamy and a little sweet, and baked beans are shockingly meaty, loaded with forkfuls of fallapart pork. If the meats weren’t so good, I’d suggest getting beans as a main course.
The joint is assertively casual – purposely primitive signage, rolls of paper towels instead of napkins, and wood-slat walls plastered helter-skelter with NOLA scenes, folk art, odes to meat, and vintage cheesecake pictures.