An inside look at four restaurants that showcase the region’s tastiest barbecue to pig out on
By Alicia MacDonald
When it comes to barbecue that makes your mouth water, it’s likely Southeast Ohio isn’t the first place that comes to mind. But hidden along the rolling hills and winding backroads of the region lie some of Ohio’s most enticing BBQ joints that combine locally-sourced ingredients with tried-and-true recipes passed down through the generations.
So, move over Memphis, Southeast Ohio is bringing their barbecue game to the table. On the menu is four barbecue joints worth the drive for.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary in October of this year, Millstone continues to use locally sourced hickory to smoke pork, beef and chicken for the folks of Southeast Ohio to savor. The meat crew prepares its three Southern Pride smokers each night, allowing the dry-rubbed meat to smoke and develop flavor for up to 14 hours. “We wanted a sit down restaurant with a variety of food so that somebody who didn’t like smoked meat could get something else to eat,” says Millstone’s managing member, William Birch. “When people come in here, they know that they’re going to have friendly service and food they can rely on to be good.”
Combining fast food, drive-thru service and barbecue, Grillin’ Dave-Style brings quality, smoked meat to the comfort of your front seat. This barbecue staple has been attracting locals and tourists since 2007 with its smoked prime rib and leg of lamb. With a menu that offers smoked chicken, pork and brisket, Grillin’ also serves up smoked salmon, fried bologna and 33 flavors of soft serve ice cream. Seating is limited, but the picnic tables out front will make you feel right at home. The life-size pig statue out front makes Grillin’ Dave-Style impossible to miss. “You see the same people every single day and they come and get the same thing,” says Grillin’ Dave Style manager Cami Wilson. “That’s just what we serve and they know us from that.”
A barbecue gem near the Ohio River, The Scioto Ribber has been smoking meat since 1978 and it shows in the meats offered on the menu. All meat is smoked behind the restaurant in one of nine smokers, five of which run at all times. Customers can see meat being smoked as they walk in the back door, as a sweet, smoky aroma brushes across their face. “We’re kind of in the Bible Belt, where everyone comes together to eat, especially on Sundays,” says The Scioto Ribber waitress Kirsten Crock. “I want our customers to have an experience that they haven’t had anywhere else. Everyone’s ate steak and ribs, but nobody has had our quality of steak or ribs.”
With an ‘if you’re not wearing it, you’re doing something wrong’ mentality, Rowdy’s aspires to give customers a place to relax and chow down on the county’s tastiest barbecue. Named after owner Nathan Kitts’ son, Rowdy’s is embracing the cult-following that barbecue possesses, and is bringing that fan base to the region. Located off Route 93, customers are greeted by the rustic façade, cornhole boards and smell of good ol’ barbecue. The menu’s attention to detail is what led the restaurant to sell out for the first ten months it was open.
“I’ve always said that I want a guy wearing a suit to be able to come in and sit down beside a guy wearing shorts and both of them be able to be comfortable,” says Kitts. “I just want it to be a place where people can gather and relax.”