Fire it Up: BBQ Brings the Sweet and the Heat in North/NE

By Vanessa Anthony

I’ve scouted out the local BBQ scene in North and Northeast P-town so you can get your sticky hands on the best. Now, get your palate revved up and ready for that delicate blend of saucy and smoky, heat and sweet and fallin’ off the bone goodness that we call Barbeque.

Cannon’s Rib Express
5410 NE 33rd
(503) 288-3836

Cruise on over to this finger lickin’ joint located in the NE 33rd New Seasons Market parking lot for lip smackin’ ribs, succulent brisket and stacks of white bread to sop it all up with. One of the best things about Cannon’s is Sundays- when New Orleans born saxophonist, Reggie Houston takes to the patio with one of his many bands. Houston, who has played with the likes of Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Neville Brothers and Harry Connick, Jr. claims on his site ( that Cannon’s is his favorite BBQ in town.
Carboni’s BBQ
3925 NE Martin Luther King Blvd.
(503) 546-3111

This new kid on the block features $6 lunch specials and barbeque plates as well as wood fired pizza. Try one of their many combo plates like the Dark Meat Combo featuring a ¼ chicken, red hot sausage link and sliced brisket or the sausage sub which pairs a spicy sausage link with pulled pork on a hoagie. Sides here are more picnic basic, opting for cool salads like cole slaw, potato and macaroni salad instead of the heartier favs at most local BBQ hideouts like mac and cheese, red beans and rice and greens. They do, however, have brisket baked beans and all their sides are made from scratch.

LeRoy’s BBQ
6965 N Fessenden (in the lot at the corner of Fessenden and Midway)
(503) 442-7421

Housed in a black and silver trailer with a mobile smoker unit this new Que cart, owned by former Delta Café partner, Anton Pace is set to deliver the goods. Pork spareribs, chicken and pulled pork fill the menu as do ample vegetarian sides but what’s LeRoy’s got that others don’t- the Po Boy. Po boys come in half or whole orders and are filled with fried oysters, shrimp (both BBQ and fried), catfish and pulled pork as well as an upper crusty veg version called the Queen’s Favorite that comes with brie, roasted garlic, mushrooms and tomato. LeRoy’s BBQ is also some of the most affordable with meals starting at $5.50.

1469 NE Prescott
(503) 281-3700

This much heralded fav of the bunch is known for its rub barbeque instead of the saucy variety (they give it to you on the side) and uses Strawberry Mountain Farms beef and 100% hardwood to slow smoke their meats. Some things Podnah’s offers that the others don’t: lamb spareribs; the Plato Tejano (brisket, beans, tortillas and salsa) and smoked trout. They also serve breakfast offerings like ham, grits and eggs; huevos rancheros and biscuits and gravy. Check out Tuesday’s All-Day Rib and Draft Happy Hour, Texas red chili and the luscious pecan pie with cold whoop.
**Russell Street Bar B Que (my personal favorite)
325 NE Russell
(503) 528-8224

The pig is king here- at least in this kitschy barbeque spot’s décor. The barbeque varies from kind to killer with extras like Carolina vinegar and derby mustard available. You can also get your BBQ by the pound if you like and tasty treats like pimento cheese, frito pie and hush puppies. The sides are yummy from the vegetarian greens and the aptly named creamy goodness mac and cheese to the sweet brown sugar kissed bar-b-que beans and golden baked candied yams but the real star here is the moist, tender brisket- not fatty and nothing dry about it, this beef just falls apart beneath the slightest pressure from your fork. Extra points for the fried chocolate pies, root beer floats and daily specials like fried catfish and grilled shrimp with cheesy grits.

Tropicana Bar Be Que
3217 N Williams
(503) 281-8696

The longest running barbeque haven in the area has been owned and operated by Ms. Lula Parker since 1957. Though Ms. Parker tells me she specialized in barbeque in the 60’s, she is southern cooking through and through with barbeque just one of her many players. Ms. Parker’s own recipes fill the wipe-board-only menu with such delights as hotlinks; pit BBQ ribs and brisket; fried chicken, catfish and snapper; oxtails; smothered (in gravy) pork chops, steak and chicken; and even chitterlings! Sides range from black eyed peas, yams and vegetarian or turkey greens to corn and rice, mac and cheese and corn muffins. Just save room for Tropicana’s peach cobbler or sweet potato pie.

With all this smoke- there’s surely a fire so grab a bib, some wet naps and your appetite and tuck into the 5thQ’s Que. Y’all come back now ya hear?