After an inaugural summer last year of changing menus and the evolution of its barbecue offerings, the mobile food truck Barrel No. 51 BBQ is back in operation. Now all diners have to do is find the truck. For now, the truck is serving barbecue in the parking lot of the Destiny City church, which is right behind Target. The truck previously tested two locations, last summer in Lakewood and then moving to the Lincoln District last fall.
For a food business with "BBQ" in its moniker, I found the truck's limited sandwich menu last summer lacking. But when I checked back in on the truck last fall, they finally had real slow-and-low barbecue on the menu - ribs, pulled pork, smoked pulled chicken sandwiches, and baked beans and cole slaw.
My most recent visit found smoked pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, and the truck is now selling several versions of its barbecue sauce by the bottle for $5 each. There also are ribs on the menu ($14 a half rack), but they had sold out on my visit (call ahead).
The pulled meat sandwiches, served on squishy soft sesame seed hamburger buns, are $6 each with a choice of skins-on fries or on-the-spot made cole slaw with a chile spiked creamy mayo dressing. It's a bargain lunch, and tasty. Barbecue aficionados may be underwhelmed by the very light trace of smoke. I couldn't find evidence of much of a smoke ring on the meat, but it tasted like the real deal. The meat was supple and very lightly doused in a piquant molasses-based barbecue sauce (medium barely registers as spicy, the hot version will be preferable for heat seekers). Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a look at the menu. Call ahead to check the menu, it changes often. Bring cash, no plastic is accepted here.
Permitting: In Pierce County, mobile restaurants are required to be licensed by the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. Mobile permits are located on the rear of the truck or trailer. I confirmed with the health department that Barrel No. 51 is licensed.
Barrel No. 51 BBQ TruckWhere: 23rd and Cedar, in the Destiny City Church Parking Lot, behind Target. 3102 S. 23rd St., TacomaInfo: To call ahead, phone your order or text your order to 253-376-1605Website here: http://barrelno51.comFacebook here NOTE: This restaurant is CASH only.Check before heading out: Because of the transient nature of mobile restaurants, they frequently move. Imagine that. Call before you visit or check the restaurant's Facebook page in advance of a visit.
MENU BELOW: Not listed on this menu are the ribs. They're $14 for a half rack. Also, bottled barbecue sauces are $5 and rubs are $4.