Earlier this spring, when those heady July days showed up in March, I drove due east to check out the Bayport BBQ to see if there was any fuss to measure. The small joint in the former Bayport Cookery space has been open for a while, but I just hadn’t made it out there yet. It’s a low-key charmer with paper-covered tables and a walk-up counter for ordering off the menu on the wall. Little touches of southern décor are dabbled here and there, but the spare space is mainly accessorized by the smoky smells wafting from the kitchen.
This is Texas barbecue smoked with real oak, and the evidence hits you right when you walk in—my son asked if it was a bacon shop. The smoked meats are served with sauce on the side, a nice way of letting the smoke-iphiles balance their needs. Ribs were large and meaty and not overdone—they had a good chew and pull from the bone. Pulled pork was juicy and had nice hunks of crispy bits; beef brisket was too dry, but the hot links were juicy and had a tasty jalapeno bite to them. We made a sandwich of the smoked turkey, and that was right on. Sides were all fine, nothing really stood out, but the bread was freshly baked. As for the house sauce, served in a repurposed beer bottle, the texture was just a bit more than thin, and the flavor was tangy and bright without too much sugar—a very nice accompaniment to the smoke.
The real reason to drive out to this “deep blues juke joint” is that it serves the ’cue with a side of blues most nights. It was music and travel that inspired the opening of Bayport BBQ, and sitting in this house when there’s a worthy guitar player a few feet away is one of the best reasons to get in your car. At the end of June this little juke joint is hosting a deep blues festival that will surely smoke on many levels.
328 5th Ave. N., Bayport, 715-410-1116, bayportbbq.com