The brisket draws inspiration from Texas.
The ribs from Kansas City.
The pulled pork? Carolina-style.
Did I mention they have rib tips?
The area’s newest barbecue restaurant is now open. My 4 Sons BBQ opened March 14 in Midland, across the street from Bar Bistro, in a space that formerly held Midland Eatery and Zook’s.
Matt and Brenda Henning are the owners. It’s named after their four sons, ages 9-22.
Matt operates the barbecue, a pellet smoker fueled by hickory, and makes the hot sides. Brenda handles the cold sides.
They’ve operated pizza franchises for Figaro Pizza, but this is their first restaurant built from scratch.
Here’s a first-bite look. It’s this paper’s policy to skip criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Ordering: Line up at the front counter where you also pay. You’ll be served, cafeteria style, on a paper-lined tray. Serve-yourself sweet tea and soda is to the right of the front counter. Find your own table.
The dining room: Serviceable and small, with seating for less than 30 at two-and-four seat tables.
The menu: The day’s menu is written on a board by the front counter. As the restaurant runs out of items — which has happened consistently since it opened March 14 — that item is scratched from the menu.
The meat: Meat is sold by the quarter, half or full pound. Ribs are sold by the half or full racks. The standard menu lists brisket ($4.99/$9.50/$18.99), pulled pork ($3.99/$6.99/$12.99), pulled chicken ($3.99/$6.99/$12.99) and ribs ($11.99 half/$19.99 full rack).
Plated meals: Barbecue plates come with two sides each. Brisket ($13.99), pulled pork ($7.99), pulled chicken ($7.99) and ribs ($11.99).
Specials: You might see rib tips on the menu, as well as burnt ends.
The sides: Macaroni and cheese, smoked barbecue beans, potato salad ($2.50 small/$5 medium/$7.50 large) or coleslaw ($1 small/$3 medium/$5 large). Also, mini corn muffins for a quarter each or brownies for a buck.
To drink: Sweet tea ($2) tasted the real deal, dispensed from a vat of ready-made tea. Also, soda and lemonade. Beer on tap includes Mac and Jack’s African Amber and Resolution IPA, plus Rainier in the can.
Sauce: All meat served naked, with no sauce. There’s one kind of sauce on the table. It’s a nice intersection of sweet, tangy and spicy with a finish that tastes of molasses.
Pickles: House-made pickles with a nice snap and pronounced dill flavor accompanied all the plates. I want to buy them by the jar.
Get the: Brisket that’s rubbed Texas style with a simple salt-and-pepper rub. The fat cap was still attached to the brisket, which always is a good thing.
Henning smokes his brisket 14 hours over hickory, and it tasted as smoky as I thought it would.
Ribs were rubbed Kansas City style with a house rub that contained a bit of sugar. Ribs pulled from the bone with an easy tug and carried a juicy texture. The smoke and seasoning penetrated nicely beyond the bark on the surface.
Pulled pork also carried a pronounced bark and pork flavor, plus a whiff of that hickory smoke. It also was an unbelievable value. A plate of the pork came with two sides and was only $7.99. That’s cheaper than fast-food prices and this is genuine, slow-cooked food.
Coleslaw tasted snappy, with a creamy-sweet dressing and sprinkle of poppy seeds. Potato salad was gussied up baked-potato style with sour cream, cheddar and bacon. Baked beans were smoked and tasted like it, with a sweet-and-tangy sauce with a bit of heat.
Macaroni and cheese tasted homespun with a creamy bite and lots of goo. I’ll return for more.
Didn’t another barbecue just open? You bet. Central Texas style barbecue restaurant BBQ2U opened in Gig Harbor March 2.
My 4 Sons BBQ
Where: 9823 Portland Ave. E., Tacoma; 253-777-4677, facebook.com/My4SonsBBQ
Hours: To start, they are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.