Alibi V.29 No.10 • March 5-11, 2020 

Restaurant Review

Let’s Roll, S-A

S-A BBQ brings the smoke to Green Jeans

Not one part of this meal is bad.
Not one part of this meal is bad.
Eric Williams Photography

Green Jeans Farmery has always been a wonderful anomaly to me. It has a distinct look, a labyrinth of shipping containers housing the innovators of local greatness. It’s a one-stop shop for damn near everything you could possibly need, making it one of the easiest decisions for a group get-together. What surprises me most about it is that it has an impermanence that feels right. Shops will always continue to come and go, moving on to bigger spaces once they’ve outgrown the ones they have in Green Jeans. It’s a steady cycle of the old outgrowing their space to make room for something new to thrive in its place, a very spring-centric concept. In that vein, we are always gifted with new places to eat and explore there, like the recently opened S-A BBQ.

Since December of last year, they’ve gained a steady foothold for themselves in the space. With a prime spot at the main entry to the farmery, it’s hard not to notice them. With seating overlooking the central firepit, and any number of other places to go enjoy their food with local beer or cocktails, they’ve got an ideal setup. Let’s get to the meat of the review.

There are a few factors that go into separating good BBQ from amazing BBQ. The first is the smokiness of it. Arguably the biggest difference between BBQ and anything else, the smoked quality of the meat is a dramatic enhancement to the flavor profile. The style of wood used to get the smoke quality you’re looking for, one that penetrates deep enough into the meat to give it a thorough flavoring, is of utmost importance. Next, you’ve got the fat rendering. When you BBQ something, it’s a long process of slow cooking over low heat, helping the fat render gently, leaving the meat tender and juicy without finding huge veins of fat everywhere. Additionally, you’re looking for that exterior crust or bark, as some call it. The slow roasting and the rub used help create a crispy exterior, gives a slight crunch to bits of the meat, adding texture profiles in every bite. It’s on these factors that we’re judging the meats.

Let’s start with the brisket, a BBQ classic. For $4.99, you can get a brisket slider on a bun with slaw, as well as your choice of sauce (which we’ll talk about later). The slider is larger than most sliders, being sized at more than three bites, but still not large enough to be traditional sandwich-sized. It’s like a slider XL. The brisket is incredibly tender, and the smoked flavor is prevalent. You’ve got juice seeping into the bun, with robust taste in every bite. The slaw adds that extra joy to give you a bit of variance in each bite, leaving you happy bite after bite.

Maybe you’re looking for something non-traditional. Maybe meat isn’t your style, but your love for BBQ can’t be slowed down by that fact. In walks the jackfruit, mother natures answer to meat substitutes. Jackfruit doesn’t get a lot of play here in the USA, though in places like India and Malaysia, it’s a very consistent staple. It’s a sweet fruit, sitting somewhere between mango and pineapple in taste. How does it play into BBQ? First off, it looks remarkably like shredded meat. Had my food not been labeled, I wouldn’t have been able to easily identify it from other sandwiches. Secondly, it can hold the smoked flavor very easily. Finally, with the right BBQ sauce, it is nigh unidentifiable as fruit. It sits closer to pulled pork in flavor, being both sweet and slightly chewy and incredibly flavorful. Their jackfruit slider ($5.15) manages to happily sit with the best of their meals, matching up to everything else without issue.

The last thing I tried was the Smoked Out Spud ($7.99). A good baked potato cannot ever be beaten, and this was no exception. It was very soft by the time it came to me, giving me no issue in eating it. The potato almost fell apart in your mouth because it was so well cooked yet it wasn’t mushy or bad. Just delightful to eat. You can pick your meat (or not), with pork and chicken being free, or brisket and hot links being $1 extra. The whole of it is then covered with a generous helping of butter, cheese, chives, a red chile crema and your choice of BBQ sauce. This was hands down one of the best things I’ve eaten in a long time. The hot links on top with the toppings and the sauce made the whole meal so good, I nearly ended up shoveling it into my mouth because I couldn’t stop myself from going for the next bite before I was done with the current one.

Speaking of the BBQ sauce, some traditionalists will say BBQ doesn’t need sauce because the meat is the focus, and the sauce is used to cover up bad BBQ. In some cases this is true, but for S-A BBQ, it’s quite the opposite. What they have is extraordinary meat and a set of sauces that bolster the already amazing food up into new heights. For example, they have a Burqueño BBQ sauce (with a spicy variant) that is a traditional sauce with red chile flavor packed into the back end. Additionally, you could get the Zia Gold (or its spicy variant) if you want a mustard based sauce, giving a little bit more tang and bite to the sauce and helping to bring out the smoked flavors over the sweet, if that’s the style you like.

S-A BBQ is still fresh, having been open for just over three months. The identity they’re carving out for themselves at Green Jeans is unique enough as it is, making BBQ happen in their current space. As time goes on and they inevitably grow, it’ll be exciting to see what they make happen with that growth. But for right now, they’ve hit the mark with good food, and at the end of the day, that is what matters most.

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3600 Cutler Ave NE
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http://s-aabbq.com

Hours: Sun-Thu: 11am-10pm Fri-Sat: 11am-Midnight
Vibe: Quick and delicious BBQ
Alibi Recommends: Smoked Out Spud