March 30, 2006

Red Hot and Blue

by psu

For two years in graduate school, I lived in North Carolina. One of the things you learn about when you live in North Carlina is what good pulled pork tastes like. Good pulled pork is pork shoulder, or the whole pig, cooked over a low smokey fire for many many hours. In the part of North Carolina where we lived, the meat is also marinated in a vinegar and pepper sauce. The result is meat that is textured but tender, and is infused with the flavor of the smoke.

I moved from North Carolina to Pittsburgh almost 15 years ago, and have never had passable pulled pork in the city limits until tonight.

There were a few places that came close. But in general, what passes for pulled pork in this part of the country is chopped up tasteless meat dunked in liquid smoke and about a gallon of bad sauce. Good pulled pork has taste even if it is not sauced at all.

Tonight I went to the new Red Hot and Blue franchise at the Waterfront, and although they do not serve the most sublime BBQ pork that you can get, the stuff is decent, and it at least tastes like real meat instead of a mashed up saucy pudding.

Red Hot and Blue is a chain that originated in Washington DC and has several stores in that area and along at East Coast. There was even one in North Carolina that we used to go to. I had feared that the place would not be very good because the last couple of times I had eaten in the Red Hot and Blue in Rockville, the meat had been a bit marginal.

But tonight, the pulled pork was tender, and tasty. My only complaints are that some pieces were dry and overall the meat was not quite as smokey as the best stuff. The corn muffins were also stupid. These problems are easy to overlook, because at least we can now say that there is decent pulled pork in Pittsburgh. All lovers of well cooked meats should rejoice. But, if I catch you going to this place and ordering the chicken, I'll hurt you.

Posted by psu at March 30, 2006 10:54 PM | Bookmark This

Thanks so much for mentioning it -- I can't pretend to be a pulled pork specialist but I grew fond of the stuff at Redbones in Cambridge (which displaced Southerners from various states seemed to find good or at least adequate), and I frequented Red Hot & Blue when I lived outside D.C.

I've made do with the Smokey Bones place in Cranberry for a few months, but all the time I've missed RHB.

Posted by Cindy at March 31, 2006 12:23 AM

Excellent, thanks! Always good to hear about decent restaurants in Pittsburgh (we're living mostly in the Steubenville and Scio, OH areas these years, where there's absolutely nothing).

Posted by Chris Ryland at March 31, 2006 10:05 AM

Have you ever tried that dumpy little joint on Banksville Road - the one that looks like an abandoned garage and is only open April-Oct? For the life of me can't remember the name... but all the BBQ I've had there is exceptional. They should be opening in a couple of weeks, well worth the trip out. Take out only unless you want to sit outside.

Posted by RichW at March 31, 2006 05:46 PM

Went to the movies at Waterfront and dropped by Red Hot and Blue afterwards. Not bad. Not bad at all.

THey've only been open a week. The waiter was extremely nice.

Posted by pootie-tang at April 1, 2006 08:09 PM

Huh, I've been living in Maryland for almost a year now and had somehow never heard of this chain. But now I see there's one fifteen minutes away, I'll have to check them out...

Posted by Adam Rixey at April 2, 2006 07:27 PM

Which charin did RHB replace across from the Lowes Theater?

Have you done the Lexington BBQ Six Pack?

You got used to the western NC BBQ, which is shoulder only, and done over direct heat so the dripping land in the fire. Originally just stacked cinder block pits. The sauce has tomato in it. Eastern NC BBQ is whole hog, and a tabasco vinegar based sauce.

Me? I prefer South Carolina BBQ. Maurice's Piggy Park in Columbia, SC is the standard, and sells bottled sauce fairly far north, i.e. DC. Robert's Bar B Que (2 locations) west of Charleston, SC, is a drive thru.

Hash on rice. sigh.

Posted by Amos the Poker Cat at April 4, 2006 08:46 PM

Hey..i came across this article by looking up red hot and blue because i work there...and have worked there for about 3 years. I hate pork..and esspecially if it is from rh&b. I think the corn muffins are gross and stupid too. And the thing is...our chicken is better than the pork, i think. And after working there for so long i could tell u any secret about all the recepies they got up in there.

Posted by Beth at April 28, 2006 11:57 PM

Red Hot & Blue is where Cabo and Cap City Diner were at The Waterfront across from Loews Theater. They've been open since the end of March. Great place for dinner before or after a movie.

Posted by Boo at May 11, 2006 09:37 AM

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