I’ve always felt like the number of BBQ joints in town is out of sync with the quantity and enthusiasm of pork-consuming Charlottesvillians. Consider the fact that we have at least 9 Thai restaurants, 26 Mexican restaurants, and 27 Chinese restaurants.* Many of the proprietors of these establishments have traveled 1000s of miles to set up shop in our fair town and have taken a gamble on forging a viable business out of a foreign cuisine where there are nevertheless many established competitors and where authentic ingredients can be harder to come by.
Now look at BBQ. Five restaurants in Charlottesville. Five! A cherished American tradition haling from the exotically distant shores of North Carolina and Tennessee, BBQ can be made relatively easily with local ingredients, and is guaranteed to command a rabid clientele, as long as you don’t totally screw it up. Enter B Blues BBQ.
Those of you who frequently travel along High Street extended may have noticed the occasional weekend smoker in front of the Joy gas station, puffing fragrant clouds of rib smoke into the neighborhood (where our house is). The smell assailed me in our own kitchen one day and I resolved to go see what this was all about. As I strolled towards the smoker, a man in a rally cap and old fleece intercepted me and said, “Come look at my ribs!” He cranked open the smoker and sure enough. Some good looking chicken and ribs in there. I didn’t have time to wait for these to be done, however, so he took me over to the trailer and offered me a sample of his Memphis-style pulled pork and Carolina-style pulled pork. A guy filling his tank nearby was intrigued and asked if he could have a sample too.
My first reaction was that the Carolina was too vinegary. It made my tongue shrivel. But the Memphis was decent, if a tad sweet for my tastes. Deciding to see how it worked in a full sandwich before passing judgment, I started to order the Memphis style, but Mr. Barry Blues jumped in and suggested I mix the two styles. Brilliant! The vinegar bite and sugar coat played off each other nicely. He gave me a tiny side of slaw, which was passable, and I was on my way.
Reflecting on the sandwich, I decided that my main complaint was that the pork had the smooth, almost blended feel of having been pulled and shredded too aggressively. I like a chunkier texture. Some people will also be turned off by the…shall we say “rustic”…feel of the trailer. The Tabasco bottle was crusted with ancient goo, the slaw came out of an industrial sized mayonnaise jar that looked like it had been reused one too many times, and there was a pervasive feeling of, well, roadside BBQ. Personally, I got no problem with that. I know you Jinx fans don’t either. But country club BBQ fans need not apply.
B Blues is only operational on weekends, as long as the sun is up, though sometimes he’s catering and not there. He’s also not convinced this is the best location, so he may move to 29 before long. If you’re intrigued, make it a priority!
* These numbers may not take into account the latest openings and closings.
Pros: Cheap, novel.
Cons: Roadside grimy feel.
Price: $5 for a pulled pork sandwich, $13 for a half-rack of ribs.
Parking: No problem to park temporarily at the gas station, though not great for sticking around and eating.
Facebook: B Blues BBQ
Phone: (804) 883-0191
Open weekends only, “when the sun is up.”