There’s always a beautiful moment at Woodrow’s Bar-B-Que—maybe as you’re effortlessly peeling a tender piece of char-encrusted meat from a giant rib bone or savoring a slice of moist brisket that melts in your mouth—when you think to yourself: It just can’t get any better than this. In the South and many other parts of the country, the meat would likely come from a pig—“hog heaven,” as it were—but at this small, general-store-looking Mt. Washington establishment, we’re talking about Texas style barbecue, which means predominantly beef, not pork. And not just any beef—gloriously authentic, deliciously dry- rubbed, wood-fired, and smoked-for-more-hours-than-you-sleep beef.
That juicy brisket, those “is this meat even connected to the bone?” ribs, and even the delicious sides of mac-n-cheese, potato salad, French fries, and more come from the imagination of owner Matthew Piron, a 1993 Loyola University graduate who opened the place in 2017, inspired by his wife’s San Antonio roots and his own disillusionment with corporate life after he was laid off from his sales job of 15 years. Is it wrong to say we’re thankful for whomever made that staffing decision? Unemployment lit a classic American entrepreneurial spark in Piron that ultimately ignited the red smoker in Woodrow’s tiny commercial kitchen, which cooks 75 pounds of savory hormone-and antibiotic-free prime black angus brisket and ribs, not to mention pork butts, sausage, and turkey, too.
If you’re a fan of barbecue, and perhaps even if you’re not, you will not leave Woodrow’s disappointed—or hungry. The protein is prepared with a Kosher salt-and-peppered rub, no sauce, and cooked over a white oak fire, making this the only restaurant in the city to follow the mid-Texas tradition. Indeed, while enjoying dinner, my wife and I overheard a couple tell the cashier that they recently moved from McKinney, Texas (which is just north of Dallas) and on this night felt they finally found real barbecue. After their meal, they paid for a pound-and-a-half of beef ribs to go.
Be warned, the physical space of this gem is relatively small; there’s the front door, the counter, the menu on a chalkboard wall, plus 14 seats inside and few out front, but finding an open table on our recent visits was no problem. The atmosphere is comfortable and laid-back, and the service is fast and friendly. Until March, the drinks policy was BYOB, but that’s recently changed with a liquor license in hand. And we’re guessing the food is just as good at home, as most of Woodrow’s business is carry-out.
Interestingly, the man behind the meat candy—a term that can be applied literally and figuratively (it’s pitmaster slang for the crispy, fatty bits from a brisket’s flavorful outer bark)—is from New Jersey. He taught himself the barbecue craft, with a lot of trial and error, plus a little R&D from BBQ hotbeds across the country. “It’s got to be perfect,” Piron says, “or I won’t do it.” After one bite of his goods, there’s no denying the results.
›› Woodrow’s Bar-B-Que
1607 Sulgrave Ave., 667-212-4436. Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.: Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m.