Podnah’s Pit BBQ

Growing up, my family wasn’t exactly barbecue saavy. Barbecueing was a scary business, marked by the stink of charcoal and matches and great roaring bursts of flames from lighter-fluid happy amateurs. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I discovered that barbecue didn’t have to mean blackened burgers and chewy hot dogs and chicken breasts that tasted like shoe leather.

Podnah’s simplistic down-home charm goes hand in hand with some of the city’s finest barbecued ribs, brisket, pulled pork, prime rib, smoked trout, and yes—Frito pie (they’ve got pecan too, sweet tooths).


Thanks to my dorm mate Joe, who grew up on a ranch and learned his AB’cues when he was still in diapers, I learned that barbecue could be so much more than just savagely incinerating a helpless piece of dead meat. Under Joe’s careful watch, critical eye and slowly drawled instructions to anyone he trusted to man the grill while he refreshed his 7 & 7, his homemade barbecue pit turned out tender strips of thinly sliced tri tip, chicken basted with beer and spices and dripping with juice, slabs of sizzling thick cut bacon, and  ribs, oh the ribs.

Gnawing on a perfect barbecued rib, somehow crispy, juicy, chewy and tender all at the same time—powerful emotions welled up inside of me. I wasn’t sure how I’d ever lived without these astonishingly good hunks of roasted bone and meat. It was the same way I feel about Google, essentially, without the meat and bones part.

After college Joe and his barbecue and I parted ways and I flitted around with a lot of different barbecue joints. Some were promising—spicy riblets, inventive barbecue sauces, bells and whistles like fried okra and coconut cream pie, but none of them were The One. And then came Podnah’s, and I was whole again.

ribs-illustrationThis simple but stylishly rustic Northeast Portland BBQ joint’s down-home charm goes hand in hand with some of the city’s finest barbecued ribs, brisket, pulled pork, prime rib, smoked trout, and yes—Frito pie (they’ve got pecan too, sweet tooths). And don’t you dare pass up the iceberg lettuce wedge, which wallows in a sea of house blue cheese dressing so beautifully tangy it borders on sour.

It’s hard to say what the best day of the week to visit is—if you’re in the service industry, it’s Monday, because you get happy hour all night, but Tuesday is all day rib and draft happy hour for all, Wednesday is Fried Chicken Night, Thursday is Smoked Lamb Ribs Night, and Friday is Fried Catfish Night. On Saturday and Sunday brunch is served, and until you’ve had Podnah’s eggs and brisket, you might have thought breakfast meant a sad little plate of bacon, eggs, and toast, verses a mammoth plate of smoked brisket, eggs, potatoes and a warm homemade muffin. You’ll never feel the same about your favorite diner’s blue plate special again.


Cuisine: Barbecue

Executive Chef: Rodney Muirhead

Atmosphere: Stylishly rustic, casual, spacious barbecue joint

Best Seat: Not a bad seat in the house, but a window seat is always interesting

Noise Level: Boisterous when full, otherwise Normal

Dress Code: Casual

Bring the Kids: Yes

Parking: Street parking is free and easy to find

Cocktails: Yes

Beer: Yes

Wine: Yes

Corkage: $10 per 750mL

Teetotalers: Great selection of vintage sodas, real Coke

Coffee: Stumptown

Tea: Iced, Lipton

Ideal Meal: Iceburg wedge with homemade blue cheese dressing, pork ribs, cornbread, pinto beans, pecan pie with cold whoop

Vegetarian Friendly: A few sides and iceberg wedge salad

Vegan Friendly: No

Good for the following occasions: Casual Date, Out With Friends

Group/Private Party Details: Groups of up to 50 and large to-go orders can be accommodated with advance notice.

Reservations: No

Take-Out: Yes

Delivery: No

Deals: On Tuesdays, all day rib & draft happy hour (dine in only), ribs are $1.50 and beers are $2.50