Smokin' Pete's BBQ
1918 NW 65th St, 783-0454
Mon-Sat 11 am-9 pm, Sun 11:30 am-9 pm.

Smoke sometimes gets a bad rap: "where there's smoke there's fire," the surgeon general's warning against smoking, and, uh... Smokey and the Bandit Part 3. To those who worship good barbecue, though, smoke is something akin to holy water, an anointer bringing you one step closer to heaven. Which might make Smokin' Pete's BBQ in Ballard, a place that smokes its pork and beef brisket for over 12 hours, something like a smoked-meat Vatican.

To the uninitiated, the restaurant's promise of "regional American & International BBQ" can be misleading. Instead of a United Nations barbecue fantasyland, the extent of the "international" menu is Peking-style duck ($6.95, lunch), a "spicy-sweet Thai" sauce that's available (the tangy dark red "original" sauce is still the best, though), and an excellent Asian slaw. That's just fine, however, since it allows Pete's to concentrate on the basics, with outstanding results.

The pork ribs ($8.50 for a lunch plate--four ribs plus coleslaw and corn bread) are meaty and succulent, served "dry" with the sauce on the side, and the brisket ($7.95 lunch plate--three big slices of brisket and a side) is so seductively tender you'll blush. There's also chicken (evenings), wonderful sausages, and a number of sandwiches, including the Slow Joe Pork Sandwich ($5.95, with a side of slaw)--tons of smoky pulled pork on a hoagie roll, smothered in sauce.

To be honest, some of the sides--coleslaw, cowboy beans, collard greens--seemed a bit bland, but hey, you don't go to church for the wafer, you go for the glory, right? Pete's delivers quality meats, heavenly smoke, and tasty sauce--the holy trinity of barbecue--plus it's housed in a former butcher shop, which is just too fitting to be coincidence. Surely, this must be the promised land.

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