Our weekly meeting works as a sounding board for new ideas. This time the meeting wrapped up with me having a new assigned task: to check out some local BBQ spots. Thankfully it's a good time to enjoy delicious food and the perfect spring weather- 70 degrees, low humidity, clear sunny skies and a slight breeze!
In the South, BBQ is about as common as pick-up trucks, sweet tea and hound dogs. Southerners are also pretty opinionated about where you can find the best 'Q and they aren't hesitant to tell you about it, but what about the REAL DEAL? Those back alley joints with cult followings and no number in the phone book. I started my hunt for the best BBQ, however people in Savannah love to give directions like, “It’s on the Lane next to Conch Cottage” or, "Remember that old Sears that shut down in the '70's?" and as a newcomer to Savannah, none of this was getting me anywhere close! But that’s how it is when you want off-the-beaten-path. So, I did the hard work of finding it and now I'll break down where it really is for you, addresses and all.
Stop #1 Walls BBQ
Est. 1963- from Bay Street head south on Price Street, past York Street. Turn left into the lane right past 140 Price Street. Walls BBQ is down on your left about 100 feet.
It’s so good they don’t have to be open very often. Thursdays – Saturdays, 11-9.
I was surprised to find that the interior is quite spacious and along with the take-out counter, you can be seated and served. Most interesting to me, however, aside from the words of wisdom that hang on the wall right inside the door (more about that later), was the old magnetic board with magnetic letters spelling out nothing exactly. So I asked about that and was informed that “If you can read it, I has it.” So, I’m thinking this is like Jumble in the paper, - that word scramble game.
I look at the first line, “TURAGBASA” and start unjumbling.
“CEIR NDA ESAP”
“Rice and peas!”
“RAKO DAN MOTESTA”
“Okra and tomatoes!”
I’m thinking, “Wow, I’m digging all these vegetables.” I think I’m now entitled to order all these under-cover vegetables that only those in the know can get-but it doesn’t work that way. Apparently, Mrs. Wall has to do the unscrambling, and when she does that means that she cooked extra vegetables. Still, it was very good. The 'Q was great. I ordered a plate of ribs, mac and cheese and greens. Took it home and we had our first backstreet BBQ adventure in Savannah. Fabulous.
Stop #2 Angels BBQ
21 W. Oglethorpe Lane
Independent Presbyterian Church holds noon services on Wednesday, so you can check that out and then you can chow down with the Angels. Another lane, another great secret. How to get there:
Take Oglethorpe Avenue to Bull Street and head south on Bull. Immediately turn right into the lane.
Husband and wife team Andrew and Aileen are running the show. They came from the Bay area after training at the Culinary Academy in San Francisco. The cooker goes all night and they close when they run out- which can be as early as 1:30, but 3 is more like it. Pulled pork is always a favorite but they have a nice twist on the traditional greens, serving Collard Greens with Peanuts- a traditional West African dish brought to us from the Barrier Islands. Another decadent looking creation is called Angel Fries. This very healthy treat is french fries topped with baked beans and a heap of cheese. Yum. For those more inclined to order quinoa they offer a mushroom based burger that is rubbed with their signature bbq rub and cooked to crispy perfection, then topped with the house-made BBQ sauce and served with a mustard based coleslaw. Spicy, sweet, salty, sour, perfection.
Stop #3 Randy’s BBQ
750 Wheaton Street
Just a short drive or walk from the Historic District, Randy’s is in a blue building painted up with chickens and such on Wheaton Street- right across from a government looking building that well, is, a government building- the Department of Family and Children.
Randy is a man of few words and he runs this place as well as doing catering which was evident as he was closing up to deliver some BBQ when I drove up. He’s been there 7 years and offers some of the more standard Southern pairings of BBQ Chicken, Ribs, and Pulled Pork, as well as Fried Chicken and all kinds of Meatballs. For sides there’s mac and cheese and red, yellow or white rice. He’s got 5 salads; seafood, potato, tuna, “cold slaw” and tossed. And for veggies there corn, green beans, collards and “bake beans.” Lots to choose from. Of course, tea and soda and water are offered. Might want to bring cash for this one, their credit card machine is often on the fritz.
Stop #4 Sandfly BBQ
Corner of W Henry and Barnard Streets
The original in Sandfly, a little neighborhood near the marsh on the Southside of Savannah since 2007, they’ve now a second location downtown! This second location is in a Streamliner Diner that was manufactured in Massachusetts in 1938, and brought to Savannah in the 90’s to serve as a mess hall for SCAD students, this place is a neighborhood favorite.
In terms of the BBQ meat, the pork is the most popular, but the brisket is “the Best Ever”. The chicken they suggest pairing with the spicy vinegar-based Virginia Style Sauce, whereas the beef they pair with a sweet tomato based “Bluff-Style” Sauce. The pork works well with the mustard based Carolina Style Sauce, but lots of people just mix it all up and pour it all on. Also a standout is their South Carolina slaw which isn’t sweet but tangy.
Stop #5 Blowin Smoke Southern Cantina
1611 Habersham Street
The obvious thing that makes this a great BBQ Tex-Mex Mecca is that they serve some crazy crafted cocktails and beer and have a big outdoor patio. Add to that music most weekends and a classically trained chef and you have a great formula. Jason Youngblood is the meat master there. Jason is a big guy and he has some impressive ink. In fact, seems everybody that works there shares that passion. Let’s just say that there’s some good ink watching there.
According to Jason, they brine-dry-rub-house-smoke the meat for 16 hours over pecan wood. Pulled Pork, Smoked Brisket, Flintstone Ribs. As for the brisket, all the burnt ends are cut away to be combined with all the great sauces giving you that perfect crispy juicy spicy mouth explosion. The smoked brisket is then shredded or chopped and added to salads, tacos and the rest. The menu is very creative and delish. Something for everyone including some standard (But exceptional) fare like wings and quesadillas as well as more adventurous stuff like Pork Belly Chorizo tacos or Tequila Lime Chicken.
These are just some of our favorite places. There are defnitely more to be found in the alleys, side-streets, and backyards of Savannah! Leave your favorite in the comments if we missed it!