When Garden and Gun, Southern Living, and Jim Shahin all are touting a barbecue place, you try to get there. We were in Hilton Head, with B’s Cracklin’ BBQ in Savannah, a mere 90 minutes away — 90 minutes there, 30 to eat and 90 home: reasonable. Nancy was committed to a five hour mah jongg marathon (she connected with a group down there last year, and at home has fallen in with some tile sharps in the tough part of Bethesda that are bleeding our bank account dry), so I was on my own and off to Savannah.
B’s Cracklin’ BBQ is in a storefront in a small shopping plaza off White Bluff Road in South Savannah, a mile or so from Armstrong State.
There are ten formica tables in all – six in the main room, three in an alcove to your right as you enter, and a six-person table in an alcove to the left. The decor is minimalist, with some pig silhouettes but no noticeable sports memorabilia.
You order at the counter, and on the advice of the staff I had a pork plate ($9.99) with collards and macaroni and cheese instead of cole slaw (most people get macaroni and cheese and baked beans, but I dislike the way the molasses taste fight the pork taste in baked beans: cole slaw is way down the list at B’s) and corn bread instead of a bun.
That’s a pretty bad photograph, but I wasn’t focused on photography.
The pork at B’s is a revelation. It came without sauce and had a powerful, very interesting smoke flavor. My first thought after taking a bite was “pastrami.” That was a surprise, but as I continued to eat the taste became more conventional. The waiter said they cook the meat in a pit with a mix of wood, including red oak and cherry. Clearly, they use a lot of it. The smoke flavor is pronounced, which I like, but very distinct from the hickory flavor that I grew up with and use myself.
There are three sauces on the table – a mustard sauce with a little too much ball park-style taste, a fairly spicy vinegar sauce that avoided the excess of sugar that ruins so many vinegar sauces, and something in a red squeeze bottle that I assume contained a sweet sauce or ketchup. The meat was fine without any sauce. I used the spicy sauce mainly on the cornbread, with was on the heavy side. The greens were very good – a little heavy on the stems, but very good, the stems having been cooked past any toughness, with the right amount of pork.
And the macaroni and cheese: let me tell you about the macaroni and cheese. It was not a mere mixture of pasta and cheese. It was old-school macaroni and cheese, the kind you used to get at church suppers before everyone was too busy to make it, the kind that your mother used to make in the unlikely event that your mother could cook like Dear.
Go to B’s Cracklin’ BBQ. Get some pork and macaroni and cheese. You’ll thank me for it.
And while you’re at it, click “follow” on our front page to receive blog posts in your email box. Or bookmark us and check in from time to time. If you’re planning a trip, you can “Search” the name of the city, state, or country for good restaurants (in Europe, usually close to sites, like the Louvre or the Van Gogh Museum, that you’ll want to visit in any event). Comments, questions, and suggestions of places to eat or stories to cover are very welcome. And check out our Instagram page, johntannerbbq.