Bitterroot Barbecue: Best New Restaurant 2012

This year’s batch of Best New Restaurants adds new depth to our lively, layered restaurant scene.

By Seattle Mag October 31, 2012


This article originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Seattle magazine.

Food snobs will tell you that Seattle simply does not have good bagels, good Indian food (see page 116), a real Jewish deli or good barbecue. If you, like us, want to challenge these assertions, give Ballard’s newcomer Bitterroot a try. Owner Grant Carter, who owns the place with his wife, Hannah, cooks his ribs ($16–$29) to the perfect point at which they require the tiniest tug to come from the bone. They’re tender and smoky, with a barbecue glaze that’s sweet and a little spicy. Brisket surrenders to the fork after a long, slow smoke that renders the fat right into the meat. And oh my, the sides! The baked beans ($3) are sensational: meaty, thick, rich and delicious. Deeply satisfying cheese grits ($3), a good, tangy slaw ($3)—all remarkably good here.

Still too skeptical to try the barbecue, so sure that it’ll fall short of “authentic”? Order yourself the burger, a pink-centered sensation topped with a mess-making combo of bacon, blue cheese and sweet sautéed onions all on a chewy Tall Grass Bakery pretzel roll (which is also used in the tasty assortment of pulled pork and chicken sandwiches). All of this is offered up in a rough-hewn but small front dining room (where kids are welcome), or at the busy bar down a long, slim hallway in the very back, where a few dozen whiskeys are poured into shot glasses and cocktails. Will Bitterroot settle the good-barbecue debate? It might—especially if everyone agrees not to talk with their mouths full.

You should know: Eating with fingers encouraged; the serving of macaroni and cheese is enormous and can feed the whole table; bar service can be gruff; expect bar crowds on weekends; no reservations; happy hour is weekdays, 3–6 p.m. Get directions.



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