One of the best things about moving to a new city is finding your “places.” You know, your favorite grocery store, your favorite burrito place, your favorite coffee shop… All the places you visit often because they're close to your house and you never get sick of them.
Coming from the Midwest, one of the places I've been looking for in New Orleans is a go-to barbecue joint. Well, my friends, I believe I found the one this week: Bar-B-Q Kings in Gentilly.
For the last few weeks, my co-workers and I have been having lunch at barbecue places around New Orleans and chronicling our adventures on Facebook to create some hype about New Orleans Magazine's upcoming “Barbecue Issue” coming out in November. (Like us on Facebook to follow our barbecue escapades!) It's been a good opportunity for me to branch out and try new places in new parts of the city I don't visit very often.
This past Monday, three work friends and I ventured out to New Orleans East for Walker's BBQ on Hayne Boulevard. We quickly learned that Walker's BBQ is closed on Mondays, so we had to change our plan. After a few minutes of Urbanspoon-ing, we decided on Bar-B-Q Kings, located at 2164 Milton St. in Gentilly. We didn't know a lot about the place, but it was close and had good Urbanspoon reviews, plus we were hungry.
When we pulled up to Bar-B-Q Kings, I instantly had mixed feelings.The place is a small and simple building, definitely a “hole in the wall.” When we walked in, it felt like we were walking into someone's kitchen. The three people at the bar turned around and looked at us. There was no "Please Wait To Be Seated" sign or anything. We asked where we were supposed to sit, and soon a man came out and seated us in the back then took our order. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with baked beans.
When our food was ready, our server – Oronde Robertson, who also goes by O – gave us our food in brown paper bags. This is odd, I thought. But when I opened the bag and took the first bite of my sandwich, it was instant love. The meat was covered in a sweet but spicy sauce, and the meat had a smokiness that lingered in my mouth hours after I was done. The beans were just as delicious as the sandwich. It was some of the best barbecue I've ever had.
We started talking to Robertson about the history of the place and he told us Bar-B-Q Kings used to be off of Claiborne Avenue, but then Katrina happened. Bar-B-Q Kings has been at its new spot on Milton Street for two years.
I share this story with you because I encourage all New Orleanians – whether you're a lifer or a newbie – to try those places you just stumble upon. So many restaurants in New Orleans get a ton of press and awards, but other restaurants that are small and don't receive as much attention can be just as tasty.
I know I'll return to Bar-B-Q Kings soon and I recommend you do, too. If you have any other “hidden gems” to share, I would love to hear about them. I know there have to be a lot in New Orleans.