Who can resist the tangy and smoky flavor of fine barbecued food?
If you are one of the people whose taste buds are perking up just at the thought of barbecue fare, then you will want to read on.
Think brisket, spice-rubbed bark, ribs, pulled pork, sausage and all the fixings.
Is your mouth watering yet? If so, good, because you will want to peruse the column teasers below and make plans to visit one of these eateries this weekend!
This short list was culled from columns written by G.A. Benton and Gary Seman Jr.
Hank's Texas BBQ
2941 N. High St., Clintonville
One constant of Hank's Texas BBQ in Clintonville ambience: The aroma of hardwood smoke always perfumed the entire premises. The premises include a duly popular patio and numerous other features, such as interior yellow brick walls, simple-but-accommodating wooden tables and a long banquette, left by the site's previous occupant, Old Skool, a sports bar that didn't survive the pandemic.
The consistently juicy and delicious pulled pork ($16 a pound), which incorporated bits of righteous spice-rubbed "bark" in every serving, offers the best bang for the buck. But the lusty if expensive beef brisket ($26 per pound) and the on-point ribs ($14 per pound) — both featured hefty barks — could arguably be called Hank's barbecue stars.
"Meat plates" come with two substantial sides and cost $14 (one meat), $16 (two meats) and $18 (three meats). As I usually received just two to three slabs of brisket or ribs per order, I've concluded that the best platter value is the $18 combo (go ribs, brisket and pork). Bonus: It feeds two.
Read more this review: Restaurant review: Smoky barbecue permeates Hank's Texas BBQ in Clintonville
Ray Ray's Meat + Three
1256 Columbus Rd, Granville
When you open the first "meat-and-three" eatery in the area — where choosing one meat and three sides from a cafeteria-style setup is the name of the game — you can easily lay claim to being the best meat-and-three operation in the region. But when you open a meat-and-three joint with a smoke-scented slant and you're the longtime barbecue champ of central Ohio? Now you have a special restaurant regardless of the competition. Now you have terrific Ray Ray's Meat + Three in Granville.
A dine-in-oriented spinoff of a barbecue business whose stellar reputation previously emanated from three food trucks and a takeout stand, this new Ray Ray's branch is loosely patterned after buffet-line-style, meat-and-three restaurants often said to have originally become popular in Nashville, Tennessee. While inspired by old-school Southern establishments, Ray Ray's is rife with modern accents, too.
The huge fixed-price meat-and-threes ($15) I sampled were also among the finer values in the area. Some favorite accompanying sides were the sweet-and-sour, warm German potato salad; killer collard greens; scrupulously minced, zippy coleslaw; soothing mac-and-cheese; nuanced-and-distinct "cheddar cornbread puddin."
You can't go wrong with any of the barbecue, either, but the most consistent options (in moisture-and-fat content) are the routinely changing, yet reliably great, chile-spiked, house-made sausage links (enormous, creatively flavored, texturally flawless); and the wonderfully lusty, hefty heap of company-farm-raised "whole hawg" (served with excellent chow-chow) — a locally rare, hard-to-prepare blend of chopped pork cuts topped with crackly pork-rind crystals and a bracing vinegar-and-chile-based sauce.
To read more of this review: Ray Ray's Meat + Three's delectable barbecue and amazing dessert worth a drive
Kool Daddy's Barbecue Smokehouse & Bar
5855 Frantz Road in the Karric Square Shopping Center
Kool Daddy's Barbecue Smokehouse & Bar is at the intersection of Texas and Memphis culinary styles. Owner Michael Moralis said prefers the dry-rub barbecue option and gives extra attention to the meat in the smoker. "My flavors are a little bit different," Moralis said. "I treat the meat all the time (during the cooking process)."
For example, the pork belly is sprayed every hour with apple juice to keep the meat moist, he said. He also smokes homemade meatballs – combining pork, veal and beef – brushes them with barbecue sauce and throws them back into the smoker so the coating forms into a glaze.
Yes, Big Daddy's has all the barbecue classics: brisket, smoked sausage, ribs, and pulled pork and chicken, presented in various forms – tacos, by the pound, sandwiches and sandwiches.
To read more of this column: Osso buco, house pickles, fresh-baked buns and plenty of smoked meat at Kool Daddy's
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus barbecue restaurants you've got to try