Mission BBQ, Patriotic and Tasty
I thought I’d talk about a favorite place of mine. In California, MD in the San Souci Plaza Shopping Center sits a recently established barbecue joint that spills over with patriotism and support for our troops. Mission BBQ is a favorite of mine, a restaurant chain with just a few locations that definitely lives up to its name. Their apparent mission is to serve up some of the best and affordable BBQ in town and let me just say they nailed it.
Before you even walk in you can spot the giant black Mission BBQ Humvee in the parking lot or parked somewhere on the grass outside the building. That’s what kind of place this is: a full throttle experience of patriotism and national pride. As soon as you enter the establishment you can see multiple slogans, photos, and memorabilia in support of our armed forces. One might call it over-the-top, but if you look into their mission statement you’ll see that this is indeed for what they were inspired: serving those who serve.
Walking in the door might solicit an enthusiastic “Hi there!” if the cashiers are not too pre-occupied by the long line of customers in front of them. As it is a lunch place, you can expect a rather large crowd at certain intervals. That’s just going to happen. However, I find that the line moves quite quickly and in less than a few minutes it’s my turn to order. The options are classic BBQ with a few exceptions. The meats are priced by the half pound and there are usually about 8 sides to choose from two of which rotate depending on what season of the year you go.
Before I can even finish filling up my fountain drink I hear my name called from the distribution counter. A smile and a tray of tasty looking meat greet me when I get there. Finding a table can feel challenging because the volume of customers, but even at peak hours I’ve never failed to find place to sit and eat. I’ll get to the food in a minute but I just wanted to talk about how great the service was. Though the dining style is cafeteria, we were still approached by a manager to make sure our experience was pleasant and if we needed anything. Often times, someone will come by and bus our table for us (though it is sometimes the case that you bus your own tray. It depends on how busy they are) which is rather unexpected in this dining format. The whole experience from walking in to walking out feels as if each person working at the restaurant enjoyed having you there and wanted to serve you delicious meat — and there’s not even a tip jar. They seem to believe that their business will succeed not because they gave you great service and food this one time, but that you’ll come back and see them again. And I have. Every week. I call it Barbe-Tuesday. On to the food (for real this time)!
As much as I typically enjoy my Barbe-Tuesday romps I found this week’s installment a bit lackluster. I ordered the black plate special, an entrée dish that changes season to season. Today’s special was a smoked prime rib for about 12 bucks. Seeing as how I had not yet tried it and I wrote above about trying new things, I opted to go for the unknown.
It was a good looking piece of meat. I knew it was smoked so I was prepared for it to come out grey and not pink like I usually enjoy my prime ribs. It came with a cup of au jus which was quite tasty but frankly it was also quite necessary. The meat felt extremely lean, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it was to the point where it would have been hard to chew without a drink or the au jus. It was tender enough and cooked through, but it just happened to be dry. I tried adding just a bit of one of variety of BBQ sauces available on the table but found it overpowered the subtle smokiness of the meat. The skin was seasoned well and the overall taste was good, but overall I’d have to say the meal was not up to the standard fare. A rare swing and miss for Mission BBQ this week. Well, let’s call it a foul ball, because while it wasn’t great, it certainly wasn’t eating shoe leather either.
6/10 would probably not order again because I know there are better things on the menu.
A fair bit of warning for those who find the patriotism overwhelming: they stop all production at noon to play the national anthem every day… and the bathroom is filled with sexy ladies.