Restaurant Guide 2013: Podnah's Pit

1625 NE Killingsworth St., 281-3700,

[BEST BARBECUE] Podnah's is the classic case of a neighborhood joint made good. Now firmly ensconced in their large, airy space in North Portland, there's always a long line of young families, hung-over couples and eager tourists waiting to devour some of the best barbecue in the country. If you can, sidestep the line and sit at the long, polished slab of salvaged wood that serves as Podnah's welcoming bar. Dip a perfectly charred rib or a forkful of tender pulled pork into the housemade barbecue sauce, and then squirt the housemade mustard sauce on top of the creamy potato salad. Podnah's, our 2011 Restaurant of the Year, has lost a half-step: the formerly irresistible brisket was dry and overly fatty, which, though not appealing, was a remarkable feat of engineering. Scattershot service means four different people can seat you, bring drinks, appetizers and then your entree, but you'll have to flag down yet another person to order a piece of pecan pie. And after waiting an hour for a table, it is maddening to be told they are, again, out of trout. But these are relatively minor hiccups at an otherwise iconic spot. Even in the deepest of the Deep South, you won't find tenderer, more flavorful barbecue. Believe me, I've tried. 

Ideal meal: The Pit Boss has four different kinds of meat, two sides and cornbread, and easily feeds two people for $21.25.

Best deal: If you find yourself hungry on a Tuesday, head over for the all-day rib and draft happy hour.

Pro tip: Get there early on weekend nights. Even after years of operation, Podnah's still has a tendency to run out of certain items long before the last seating.

11 am-10 pm Monday-Friday, 9 am-10 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$.


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