In a wasteland of auto body shops, auto parts suppliers and tire wholesalers sits MoGridder's World Famous BBQ, tucked into an auto body shop parking lot.
Yes, the neighborhood is an eye-opener, but the only thing tough about it is the one-two punch of one-way streets and hard-to-find parking. Mo Gridder's is a trailer operation where you order at the window and can take it to go, sit at the picnic tables or stand at the numerous metal counter tops. The meats are smoked over cherrywood in a Southern Pride smoker that sits on the rear end of the trailer. I also spotted a microwave oven in the kitchen.
Be aware that the operating hours are 11:00AM to 4:00PM, so dinner isn't an option.
For a truck operation, the menu is fairly deep, diverse and flexible. Barbecue meats include ribs, pulled pork, brisket, half and quarter chickens, pulled chicken and sausage. All of the boneless meats can be had on a sandwich (with or without a side), large platter (2 sides), small platter (beans and rice) or by the pound. The ribs can be had on a large platter, as a la carte whole and half racks and as individual ribs ($2 each with a 2-rib minimum). Chickens are available on platters as half or quarter birds, or a la carte as whole or half birds. One of the large platters is a 2-meat combo. There are also hot dogs and hamburgers with varying sizes and toppings options.
I hit Mo Gridder solo for an early weekday lunch, arriving onsite around 11:30—theoretically when the parking would be easy (not so) and the wait would be short (ditto). Only two people were ahead of me, but the wait to order was several minutes and the wait to receive my order was closer to twenty.
Appetizers could have been had, but I had places to visit after, so I focused instead on the core three meats: ribs, pork, brisket.
Pulled pork sandwich: Given the trailer situation and the microwave spotted during the lengthy wait, I wasn't expecting much from this pulled pork sandwich ($4.95 solo or $6.95 with a side). The pork meat was sauced with a thick, dark brown number, but the bark still stood out and the consistency wasn't soggy at all. If anything, it was a little dry, with the brittle edges very dry, but the flavorful surface area mitigated that somewhat. It reminded me a little of bacon with its potent saltiness and cured flavor mixing in with the smoke. Freshness and juiciness were totally absent, and it had the feel of an obvious reheat.
The standard sesame seed bun was decent enough, coming in neither fresh nor stale.
Ribs: Tried on the 2-meat combo ($14.95), the quartet of small spares had grill marks that looked like tire tracks and a decidedly old appearance. These were lightly coated with a barbecue sauce that looked more red than what graced the pork, and a little less sweet. The bite confirmed it instantly: these were old. The crusts were admirable and doneness wasn't so bad, but they had a slight rubbery feel, not much moistness and that unmistakeable feel of a reheat that didn't quite bring the 'cue back to life. Flavor was there in spades, with light but recognizeable smoke and a complex medley of spices that had salt at the forefront but wasn't as in-your-face salty as the pork. Unfortunately, not enough to overcome the in-my-face reality that these ribs were slightly tough, very dry and very old.
Brisket: More of the same: decent crust, deep flavor, respectable doneness, moisture nowhere to be found, old meat, obvious reheat.
Meats summary: For someone who's using the sauce with gusto and who's willing to cut some slack given the food truck aspect, this is workable 'cue (more so the sandwich than the ribs and brisket) that's at the very least flavorful. Workable for me? Barely. Worthy of a special trip? No. Worthy of a trip back? Probably not. Worthy of their segment on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? Not even close.
A single sauce presented a typical blend of tangy, spicy and sweet.
Cole slaw: A bold rendition combined refreshingly cold and crisp cabbage with an abundance of spices and a condiment with bite. This was one of the few cole slaws that worked both as a foil for the smoky fare and as a flavor packed item of its own.
Collard greens: The item most likely to have come out of the microwave, the greens were dark, cooked just past wilting and straddling the line between showcasing the natural flavor of the greens (with no bitterness) and being a vessel for added-on flavors. These had some heat.
Overall, the sides impressed me more than the meats.
I keep coming back to the microwave, which may or may not have been used for any of the meats. Either way, the end result was middling at best, so I guess it's moot, but still.
I also keep coming back to the long prep time. I can only imagine how long the order would have taken had I been tenth in line at the height of the lunch rush.
The Bottom Line
Gritty neighborhood, grittier 'cue. It's a food truck, so maybe I should make some allowances. Here's the problem: what usually make up for the accepted quality gap are speed and convenience, but neither was even close to being the case here. So unless you're having your car worked on, what's the point of going?
Maybe Guy Fieri loved it, but Guy probably didn't get food from the microwave.
Yelp reviews of Mo Gridder's
Urbanspoon reviews of Mo Gridder's
||'Like' PigTrip BBQ Reviews on Facebook to keep up with all of the reviews and much more content not available on the site.