Brian's Barbecue is a small restaurant in Finleyville, PA (about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh) serving up wood-fire cooked meats topped with a hearty tomato barbecue sauce and a selection of decent side items.
Next time you find yourself south of the city, do yourself a favor and try this one!
Tender Meat and a Heavy Tomato Sauce
During our visit to Brian's Barbecue, we hit up our staple order of a half rack of ribs, a brisket sandwich (at the recommendation of the manager), and sides of mac and cheese and five bean salad (which we were told was a customer favorite). Within minutes the meat platter was ready, and we were able to dig in.
The first thing you'll notice at Brian's Barbecue after receiving your meal is that the sauce is heavily tomato based, almost to the point of being chunky.
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The flavors of the sauce reflects this, and is likely going to be off-putting to some who would rather have more robust spice and seasoning flavors in their barbecue. (If this is you, go for the hot sauce which has significantly more spice and heat mixed in, while still being somewhat tomato heavy- pictured on the ribs for reference).
That being said, ignoring the sauce at Brian's, we have to say that the meat were as tender as they come. The meat fell off several ribs as soon as I picked it up, and the massive cuts of brisket fell apart in our mouths almost on its own.
Throw in a moderate smokey flavor and we have to give this one high praise for the meat here as Brian's is able to achieve something many Pittsburgh barbecue companies miss out on.
As for the sides, the five bean salad lived up to the reputation as being a flavorful mix with just a little bit of underlying heat, while the mac and cheese was a fairly straight forward iteration to the dish without much frills.
Our only regret was that we didn't go back to try the cornbread (we thought we ordered some but apparently it got lost in the shuffle, and by the time we realized we were too stuffed to force another bite in).
Prices are Some of the Best Around for Barbecue
One of the most impressive things about Brian's Barbecue, to us, are the prices as they are some of the most affordable in the region when taking into account portion sizes (which are quite generous, but likely not large enough that you'll have left overs of any of the meats).
During our visit in late 2017, a half rack of baby back ribs (about six ribs) was just $11, and a loaded brisket sandwich was $8.50. Sides ran anywhere from $1.80 to $2.25 each, plus $0.75 for cornbread, meaning that you could get a full meal per person, with taxes and a drink, for just about $15.
We've eaten barbecue a lot around the region, and these prices are amongst the lowest you'll find- and we're more than okay with that.
Overall, Brian's Barbecue offers up some fairly solid barbecue with tender meat and flavorful sauce (which admittedly, may not be for everyone). Add on the affordable prices and this spot is hard to beat as far as local meats are concerned.
Brian's Barbecue, we'll be back.
Brian's Barbecue is located at 3532 Marion Avenue in Finleyville, PA- about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh. They may close for the season in winter so it is best to confirm hours prior to visiting.
While in Finleyville, be sure to check out Mingo Creek County Park for a great afternoon walk to two covered bridges!