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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Barbecue, Southern
Casual restaurant

Tue–Fri 11:00am–9:00pm
Sat–Sun 9:00am–9:00pm

Features Kid-friendly, outdoor dining
Bar Beer
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Not accepted


Northeast Portland
1469 NE Prescott St.
Portland, OR
(503) 281-3700
Podnah’s Pit
Some of the best barbecue in the west...

Podnah’s is about as far from a fancy restaurant as you can get. Its only sign is a small sandwich board on the sidewalk. (Just look for the steamy windows next to the Mexican market.) If you don’t get there early, be prepared to wait; and if you get there late, be prepared to be told they have run out of many items.

The room is long and narrow with concrete floors and Formica tables; old photographs pepper the walls. Don’t miss the specials on the chalkboard. There are a few beers on tap, and a good selection of others available by the bottle, along with lots of more unusual sodas.

Now let’s get down to it: first of all, there’s lamb, which is a delightful barbecue anomaly. Then there’s moist, delicious pulled pork, vinegary in the North Carolina style. And then there’s candy for homesick Texans, in the form of smoked brisket made with Strawberry Farms beef; it’s got a crispy, smoky bark of char around the edges and needs no sauce (though there is some, if you’d like).

Ribs (continuing around America, this time to Tennessee and Missouri) are dry-rubbed, and have a good balance of meat and fat. They’re also properly smoky and outstanding on their own. Specials come and go, usually on Friday or Saturday nights. One week, we had a wonderful prime rib, which had been smoked for hours to render all that fat, absorbing its flavor into the flesh.

Sides are serviceable: collards, cole slaw, pit barbecue beans, potato salad, and so on. Cornbread has an occasional off night, where it is too dry, or the texture is too cake-like. Pecan pie is wonderful, with a buttery crust and toothsome pecans. Get some to go. You’ll be hungry again one day.

It’s true that this barbecue probably wouldn’t compete with the best in Texas Hill Country, nor Memphis, nor Lexington, North Carolina, but come on—barbecue is a fiercely regional thing. In those places, smokers are passed down as heirlooms and recipes are guarded closely. For Portland, this is as good as it gets, and the Southerners are sure happy to have it.

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