Last week the family headed up to Smoke in the Pit in the Powderhorn neighborhood in Minneapolis for dinner. The plan was to brave the overcast skies and sprinkling rain, get some ribs and chicken, and enjoy an evening at Powderhorn Park with the kiddos.
Smoke in the Pit is a tiny takeout place. They have a single ordering window, a restroom, a door to the kitchen, and a few feet of space where customers wait their turns to order or receive their food. While there are quite a few kinks in the system this early in the game, the staff was extremely friendly between bouts of yelling back and forth to quiet down so they could take orders or unlock the kitchen door so they could get back inside.
The menu, currently two pieces of paper stuck, somewhat cockeyed, to the wall above the ordering window, is full of the typical BBQ items: ribs, chicken wings, brisket, etc. They have beans, coleslaw, and mac and cheese as well as random extras for sides. Everything is made in-house even the peach cobbler they had as a special taped to a small piece of torn notebook paper taped to the inside of the ordering window on the day we were there.
We ordered almost everything off the menu including ribs, chicken wings (smoked, not the fried option which was also available), brisket, catfish (nuggets), mac and cheese, beans, coleslaw, and peach cobbler. Our bill came to $36 and we were told to wait about 15 minutes which eventually turned into 25.
We were provided several plastic grocery bags full of food and made our way the three blocks to Powderhorn park for our BBQ picnic. We chose a picnic table by the water and enjoyed watching the geese waddle around with their goslings. We opened up the styrofoam containers and dug in. I was surprised at the size of the portions, especially the ribs as well as the careful consideration of adding both plenty of BBQ sauce and a side of hot sauce.
The sides were pretty boring. The beans were nothing special and could use some work so they don’t closely resemble refried beans out of a can and the coleslaw was yellow, something I’d never encountered, but tasted good enough for me to eat it all–something I generally cannot do with other people’s coleslaw (it’s apple cider vinegar, mayo, sugar, celery salt, and pepper…why do people insist on screwing it up?!). The mac and cheese, however, gets its own lengthy description because, well, it was the strangest mac and cheese we’d ever eaten. It wasn’t cheesy, it had mushrooms in it, and it had absolutely no flavor, not even salt. After eating what amounted to be noodles and cream of mushroom soup several times over the evening we decided this was noodle soup and decided to never order it again. Hey Smoke in the Pit, you forgot the cheese and added mushrooms–gross.
The chicken wings were quite good. Fall of the bone tender, great smoke flavor, and a crispy skin. They were quite good enough on their own without the hot sauce (which was your standard cayenne pepper sauce and could have used some butter but whatever) or BBQ sauce. While I couldn’t drag myself back there to eat them again after waiting 25 minutes, they were almost worth the drive.
The brisket was disappointing. While it was tender, that was about all that could be said for it. Fatty, drained of color, and overall not very good, this is something which really should be one of the stars of the show. Really a sad thing, it didn’t even look appetizing at all.
The ribs, though, were absolutely amazing. BIG, meaty, tender, and smokey, these fell right off the bone. In fact, it was almost possible that you could pick up the bone, give it a shake or two, and have a pile of rib meat on your plate. While the BBQ sauce accompanying them was decent, like the chicken wings, these required no sauce. I have had ribs all over the place and while these aren’t the best by any stretch of the imagination, they were my favorite so far in Minnesota. I just wish there was some rub or stellar BBQ sauce on the side…
Overall I thought Smoke in the Pit was good enough to do again with a lakeside picnic. While I’d stick to the meats and bring my own sides and BBQ sauce, this would be a place I’d recommend you get the wings and ribs, they were pretty great.
Have you been to Smoke in the Pit? What did you order and what did you think? What other great BBQ places have you been to recently that you think we should try for another BBQ picnic in the future? Whatever you have to say about Smoke in the Pit BBQ in Minneapolis go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Smoke in the Pit
3733 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407