Last Updated on February 6, 2020 by Jeremy
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We regularly get reader recommendations on where to go next. We try and go to all of them, but with the number of places we still have to visit it is hard to prioritize everything. When we hear the same recommendations over and over again, we know we have to hit those immediately, and Big Rig's BBQ in Monroeville was one such recommendation.
This barbecue spot opened in late 2019 and is making waves within the local community, so much so that we went to check it out just a few days after receiving the (admittedly large number of) recommendations to do so.
A few days was too long of a wait for this one.
Build a Meat Platter at Big Rig's BBQ
During my first visit to Big Rig's BBQ, I went a little overboard and had four kinds of meat (pork belly, pork belly burnt ends, brisket, and ribs), two sides (mac and cheese and burnt end baked beans), and a piece of cornbread. While this extravagant meal ended up being enough for three solid servings, I do not regret it in the slightest.
My first bite was of the pork belly burnt ends, and my thought was “wow, these are tender.” There was a little resistance in the meat, and a modest bark that was covered in a sweet and sour glaze that was not overpowering. While there could have been a bit more bark for the burnt end side of the spectrum, I certainly cannot complain in the slightest with the flavor and tenderness.
Then I tried the brisket, and it was even more tender (so much so that it broke apart with little pressure from the side of my fork- both for the lean and fatty cuts). Onward to the ribs, and they fell right off the bone with no effort whatsoever. And the pork belly? Well, if you like a fatty cut of meat that breaks down as soon as it hits your mouth, this is the one to try.
I always like having one fatty cut of meat on my barbecue spread and getting it in both the brisket (you can ask for fatty or lean) and pork belly will make for hard decisions in a future visit.
This is probably the biggest selling point of Big Rig's BBQ as the tenderness of meat here is almost unrivaled by any place for barbecue in Pittsburgh. While I'll be the first to admit that the smoke flavor is on the lighter side of the spectrum, and any bark on the meat is minimal outside of the brisket, the tenderness more than makes up for either of these points in my mind- it is just that good.
The meats here are also supplemented with a strong sauce spread, with traditional and spicy barbecue sauces, mustard, and a pepper vinegar sauce being available with intense flavors to go with the meat (go for the spicy and pepper vinegar of you have to choose just a few). But to be honest, I found myself enjoying several bites without any sauce at all, and I am more than okay with that as it is a testament to the quality of the meat overall.
No matter what you do, you may want to plan on visiting this one for a meal earlier in the day rather than later. They are prone to sell out of popular meats (ribs and brisket especially) and close when the meat is gone. While we're told this is often around 6 or 7 pm if not later depending on the day, you'll be wise to plan your visit to this one accordingly to be safe- for being a new restaurant, I expect their popularity to only go up.
Don't Forget the Sides
The side options at Big Rig's BBQ are just as impressive as the meats themselves and include burnt end baked beans, mac and cheese, coleslaw, cornbread, and a few different potato options.
The mac and cheese featured loads of gooey cheese with a mix of American, cheddar, and pepper jack, but was fairly mild overall and tasted predominantly of American cheese. You could get this one topped with meat for an additional charge, which could be a good option to supplement the cheese in each bite (but may be overkill if you order a ton of meats as I do).
The burnt end baked beans were on the sweet and spicy side but had a nice kick of meat flavors from the burnt ends in almost every bite. I'd go as far as saying this will become a staple order in subsequent meals as it was balanced out really well.
My favorite side, however, was the cornbread. This one is a moist piece of bread made with cheddar cheese and honey butter giving it a bit of sweetness that isn't too overpowering. The top of the cornbread also had a nice crusty layer which provided a good textural contrast as well- something I always appreciate in cornbread.
One final note about Big Rig's BBQ is that if you go in looking to order a lot of meats, odds are good you'll drive up your bill fairly fast. So if you are planning on getting four or five meats (including ribs- a key item of note due to price), you may want to consider ordering the Big Rig's Family Platter that includes 1/4 lb of all the meats, a half rack of ribs, and two 16 oz sides for only a small price increase- roughly $10 savings of ordering them a la carte.
While this would be an exorbitant amount of food (and make for a ton of wonderful leftovers), my order was fairly close to the point where this would've been a cost-effective upsell to try the remaining meats and get larger portions of sides.
Overall, I left Big Rig's BBQ quite pleased for a number of reasons, but with the tenderness of the meats being the biggest one. It is often quite hard to do one cut of meat right in the tenderness department, and even more unusual for it to be done across an entire spread. While I often do like having a bit more smoke and bark on some of my meats overall, tenderness like this is hard to come by and I'll drive 30 minutes across Pittsburgh for that alone.
Big Rig's BBQ is located at 226 Center Road in Monroeville, PA. While I paid for my meal here and visited on my own choosing / without an invitation, it would be worth noting that the owners did recognize me after I ordered and offered a slice of pork belly complimentary to try. As always, all opinions are my own.