Spork Pit Barbecue opened in Pittsburgh's Garfield neighborhood in mid-2018 and was a much anticipated restaurant opening by the folks behind the small-plates focused restaurant just across the street, Spork.
We made our way down for this one shortly after opening and were pleasantly surprised with what we found!
Texas Style Barbecue in Pittsburgh
Spork Pit brings Texas style barbecue to Pittsburgh with a fairly simple ordering system. When you arrive grab a menu and pencil and work your way down the list checking off what all you'd like.
The meats are priced by the pound but are available in as little as 1/4 lb increments- perfect for those (like us) who want a little bit of everything.
We opted for three different meats (brisket, ribs, and pulled pork) and rounded out our meal with sides of mac and cheese as well as greens- a monster tray that ran about $30 in total.
While we were waiting for our meat to come out, we were reminded a few times to try all the meat without sauce first as some do not need any (a boastful statement we always love to hear when it comes to barbecue). When the tray came out, we were not disappointed in its beauty- visually we knew this is the kind of barbecue the city needs.
So let's break it down by meat type, shall we?
The winner on our plate was certainly the ribs. These beauties were smoked to perfection and have a nice bark, a beautiful pink smoke ring, and are still tender such that they fell off the bone with ease. The rub provided a nice flavor profile but was not too overpowering such that we could add a bit of sauce on top for the perfect bite.
The pulled pork is also on the side of the divine. The mound we had was still quite juicy but not overly so that the meat was dripping. The flavors of the rub worked out so well on this one that it did not need a single bit of extra barbecue sauce- just as we were told when ordering.
The only meat that we felt was a bit lacking was the brisket, if only because while it had really exquisite flavors like the other meat the cut we had was still fairly chewy (a common thing we've seen among brisket). I wouldn't avoid ordering this one again necessarily, but when compared to the pulled pork and ribs on our plate we had our clear winners all the same.
Sides at Spork Pit are a Must
At most barbecue places we go for a few sides and are almost always left underwhelmed. Conventional mac and cheese is fairly straightforward and nothing to write home about.
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But the sides at Smoke Pit deserve some attention (and by some, we really mean a lot).
Upon first glance the mac and cheese looks like it would follow the conventional route of the side, but as soon as you stick your fork into it you realize that this one is gooey. Really gooey. In fact, the mac and cheese here is so heavy on the cheese that we couldn't help but find ourselves vocalizing it to all who would listen while we were there.
There is no such thing as too much of a good thing.
The greens were also similar in that they were cooked in so much oil and bacon that the greens were practically swimming in a small puddle of the oils at the bottom. Again, not so great for those who are looking to be health-conscious, but perfect for those who, like us, believe that is where all the flavors are.
All things being equal, the sides at Spork Pit did not disappoint and we'd gladly pay for the pints again and again.
Don't Forget a Drink at Spork Pit
Spork Pit is also somewhat unique in the local barbecue scene in that they also have a liquor license and offer an impressive draft list of local Pittsburgh beers, cocktails on draft, and even cocktail slushies as well. So if you've ever craved for a libation when eating barbecue out, this is the place for it.
Overall, Spork Pit brings some incredibly flavorful meat to Pittsburgh and is helping elevate the barbecue scene in the city to a place it sorely needs to be. The price is on the higher end, but the splurge is most certainly worth it for quality meats and exceptional sides.
We will be back, often.
Spork Pit is located at 5349 Penn Avenue in Garfield. Please note Spork Pit is seasonal and is closed in the winter.
For more barbecue in Pittsburgh, click the previous link to read about our favorites!