If you like good ol' Texas barbecue, Podnah's Pit Barbecue is the place for you. A friend suggested we give it a try, and after seeing the restaurant featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives I couldn't wait to go. Podnah's Pit is located in Northeast Portland at NE Prescott St. and 15th Ave. We caught the smell of smoked meat a block away, but pay attention or you might blow right past!Rodney Muirhead opened Podnah's (named for his grandfather) in 2006, realizing his dream of serving up traditional Texas style barbecue in Portland. Creating authentic fare like this means starting the fire at 5am; using only oak hardwood (no charcoal or electricity), and only smoking as much meat as will fit in the smoker… when it's gone, it's gone! We parked out back by the smoker, and walked around front. The interior is fairly small and narrow, with a dozen tables and benches along both sides. The lunch menu (pdf) is sparse, with just a couples sandwiches, a few baskets, and some sides. We landed on Tuesday which happens to be "all day Rib & Draft Happy Hour", when you can get a full rack of pork ribs for $20, or ala carte ribs for $1.75 each. I chose the Beef Brisket sandwich with Potato Salad, and a couple pork ribs; my lunch time acomplice ordered the Iceberg Wedge wtih homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing to accompany his pork ribs. The pork ribs were tender, smoky, and seasoned to perfection. I was tempted at first to add some barbecue sauce, but dismissed the thought quickly; the meat was so good on it's own I just couldn't see any way to improve the taste. I was amazed at the size of the ribs, and in fact double checked the menu board to make sure they were pork, and not beef. Words can't describe the potato salad, but I'll try… simply the best I have ever had! My take on the beef brisket sandwich was not as favorable. The bun was great, and the helping of brisket was generous, but I found the meat a bit dry and not so flavorful as the ribs. This time I quickly doused the meat in barbecue sauce (which was very good, by the way); this made the sandwich pretty good, but not great.
Over all, I liked Podnah's and would not hesitate to recommend it. Pleasant atmosphere, good people, great food. Tuesday seems like a good day to go for the ribs, but I think my next visit will be a Friday or Saturday night for smoked prime rib… Yum!