Podnah’s Pit: Southwestern Eats on Northwestern Streets

Podnah's Pit restaurant interior with food shots

Podnah’s Pit – arguably one of the best barbecue destinations in the entire Northwest – is ridiculously out of place. And we mean that in the best way possible. Portland certainly isn’t known for its barbecue joints, so sitting down at Podnah’s and burying your face a plate full of authentic Texas-style barbecue is tantamount to finding an oasis in the middle of a desert, or spotting a rose in a field full of weeds.

The place is located a good distance outside of downtown PDX, but it doesn’t matter – the food is good enough to draw a good crowd on any given day of the week. Inside the thick wooden doors, a constant din of conversation bounces around the room, but goes silent in various patches as entire tables find themselves dumbstruck by sheer flavor alone. Some of the cuts served up here sit in the smoker for more than 12 hours, so to make sure that everything’s cooked to perfection by dinnertime, Podnah’s founder Rodney Muirhead starts the process every morning at at 5AM.

Smoked over hardwood oak for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, the meat is definitely what people come here for. The brisket practically melts in your mouth, the ribs nearly fall off the bone as you lift them, and the pulled pork is that perfect balance of savory and light sweetness that you leaves you aching for another bite just after you swallow. And then there’s the sauces. Most barbecue masters are stingy with their recipes, but Muirhead was more than happy to share his mixture with us. We won’t turn this into a cooking show, but basically, Muirhead does his best to recreate some of his favorite Texan barbecue sauces, but uses fresh tomatoes instead of the canned variety or ketchup. Showing off his Southwestern roots, he also likes to add a generous portion of chile peppers to give it a bit more kick. The result? Tonguegasm. Nuff said.

If you ever find yourself at this place, don’t just stuff your face full of meat though – if you want the full experience, you’ve got to chow down on some of Podnah’s signature Southwestern side dishes. All of them are good, but we highly recommend the local favorite: green chile mac and cheese. You won’t find it on the menu, but it’s somehow always on special, so just ask your waitress and she’ll hook you up.

Podnah’s Pit is located at 1625 NE Killingsworth Street in Portland, Oregon. Reservations generally aren’t necessary, but if you’re planning on heading there between 5 and 7 pm, it would be wise to call ahead. Additional info can be found at PodnahsPit.com