On Saturday, after a tough morning of pumpkin picking, the family and I had worked up a powerful hunger.
We were in Arlington so we stopped in at Moose Creek Barbecue and we are so glad we did.
This is some of the best dang barbecue I’ve ever had. I don’t know how this mom-and-pop shop can make meat so melt-in-your-mouth tender, but it’s proof positive that 30 years in the business can pay off.
This bastion of barbecue perfection is tucked on the end of Smokey Point Town Center. Inside the spit-and-polish restaurant, we were greeted by a life-sized carved cowboy, a smiling and pleasant server and a heavenly smell that made me think we had just walked into a barbecue pit.
Our helpful server guided us through the menu and was keen to suggest I order the barbecue tri-tip sandwich that offered leaner slices of wood-roasted beef. I ordered a side of ranch beans to go with ($10.95).
My husband ordered the classic pit barbecue brisket — a half pound of brisket no less — with a side of slaw ($10.95).
Our son doesn’t know from barbecue so he had a bag of chips. He was much more interested in the huge moose head hanging at the back of the restaurant next to the sign that reads, “Please don’t touch the moose.”
We sat down and studied the menu. The modest tri-fold brochure was filled with lots of enticing offerings from small barbecue dinners of three ribs and two sides ($11.95) to family packs that range from a small rib pack that feeds about four to the “ribfest” that feeds about nine and comes with three racks of ribs and choice of two quart sizes of sides ($75.95).
I gave pause while reading about the Carolina pulled pork sandwich ($10.95) that boasts of a “heap of 20-hour smoked pork, tender as a mama’s love on a French bun with molasses hog wash and a splash of our original sauce.”
Hmmm. Had I made the wrong choice for lunch?
Before my mind could answer, our server arrived with our plates.
One bite and I knew the answer was “heck, no.”
My sandwich was filled to the brim with tri-tip and sauce but somehow by magic, the meat stayed inside the bread. I bit down and the buttery-tender meat and soft bun combined in a synergy of spicy savoriness in my mouth.
But forget the adjectives. My sandwich plate did not come with a knife, so that pretty much tells the story.
The fork was used for the fresh ranch beans bathed in a sauce kicked up a notch with chili powder.
My husband thoroughly enjoyed his brisket. He even ventured to try a little of the bottled five-X Moose Creek Barbecue sauce on the table. But he apparently wasn’t cowboy enough for that kind of heat. The bottled sauce is for sale.
My son happily munched his chips and while eating, we all enjoyed a side helping of music by Hank Williams.
I’ll confess right here that I’ve never been a huge fan of barbecue. Most of what I’ve ordered in the past was too sickenly sweet, as if dunked in a vat of melted Sugar Daddy lollipops.
Moose Creek Barbecue does none of that sissy sweet stuff. The sauce is a robust, full-flavor experience that goes down smooth but with a hint of heat.
On their web page, Moose Creek owners say they don’t copy any other styles but have invented their own using white oak, pecan and apple wood, meat that’s delivered daily from Curly’s Gourmet Ribs and years of barbecue experience.
The owners said that after 30 years you learn a lot, and darn tootin’, they’ve learned to do barbecue right.
Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moose Creek Barbecue
3617 172nd St. NE, Suite 5, Arlington; 360-651-2523; www.moosecreekbbq.com
Specialties: barbecue beef, brisket, ribs, pork and chicken
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays