Papa’s Smokehouse BBQ, Yucca Valley, CA

Posted on
Jan 21, 2014
Posted in: Food, Restaurants

I am a sucker for good barbecue. There isn’t a lot of it in Washington, at least not in Seattle. I suppose it’s so cold and grey here that no one wants to stand outside next to a smoker for several hours.

Or maybe it’s because there are a lot of folks out there who are trying to bed one of those sexy Seattle vegetarians, and they figure smelling like meat won’t help them do that (OR WOULD IT?).

The point is: Seattle has very little barbecue.  So whenever we’re traveling, and find that there’s a good BBQ restaurant nearby, we go.

(Also, did you notice how I just used two different spellings of barbecue in two adjacent sentences? Take that, journalism degree!)

Just off Twenty Nine Palms Highway, near one of the entrances of Joshua Tree National Park is Papa’s Smokehouse BBQ. After an afternoon of hiking and singing Jingle Bells (we had a two-year-old in tow, and what he lacked in musical proficiency he made up for in enthusiasm. And volume.), it is the perfect place to stop and grab lunch.

The place is unstuffy and cozy, the staff friendly and patient with children. They are quick to offer suggestions, and apologized for being out of ribs (it was lunchtime, and they were still cooking).

It was not quite New Year’s, and so the Christmas decorations were still up, and would likely forever smell of meat and smoke.

This was okay – I am a fan of pork (that’s what she said). When it comes to barbecue, I am not fussy. All I want is a massive plate of meat. And guess what Papa’s has, right on the menu?

Yup. Huge plates of meat. You don’t even need to special order it and feel like some sort of glutton because you don’t want bread getting in the way of your carnivorous leanings.

I ordered a plate of it, and a salad (in a feeble attempt to undo some of the many side-effects of said meat). The salad, largely consisting of iceberg lettuce, went ignored. I did eat a few of the cherry tomatoes on top, in some a half-hearted attempt to convince myself I was being healthy. Then I turned my attention to the mound of pork in front of me.

(Note: This blog post originally had some sort of weird vignette here where I said a bunch of cheesy pick-up lines to the pork, but I declared it way too weird and deleted it all. The takeaway from all of that is this alarming fact: for a happily married woman, I know a shocking number of truly terrible one-liners that work surprisingly well if you are talking to a plate of meat.)

It was tender and moist, but I still drenched it in the sauce that was available on each and every table.

I found that by mixing the “original” and “sweet” sauces, I got the perfect balance of tang and brown sugar. (The other bottle is ketchup.)

We all ended up getting pork, except for the wee one, who also got some brisket (the verdict, from his mom, was that the brisket was also good, but the pork was better.) Rand got a pile of hot wings on the side, too, and I managed to steal one. It had just the right amount of spice and tang, and the prerequisite handful of carrots and celery on the side.

I love restaurants like this. Ones that don’t attempt to put on airs, because the food is good enough on its own, and besides, let’s be honest: we didn’t come here to eat vegetables.

One of us was so delighted by the meal, that after it was over he managed to break free and jumped up and down in front of the restaurant, gleefully.

It was not the toddler in our party. No.

It was my husband.

Sigh. I just … yeah.

If you are a meat-eater, and you happen to be in that part of the country, I highly recommend stopping at Papa’s Smokehouse. It’s great for kids.

And also for Rands.

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