Seems like it's been awhile since we talked about barbecue, right? Don't worry-- still getting my fix and figuring out which local barbecue place is best. Next up on the list is a little hidden gem in the fuzzy district between Manayunk and Roxborough (I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins..). Built into a huge garage, Deke's Bar-B-Que actually has built a considerable name for itself, especially among the residents of the area.
The garage sits in the back of a large lot, which has a sizeable brick patio with firepits and picnic tables. While it wasn't in use on the chilly night we went, it looks like it would be perfect for hanging out outside in good weather.
The inside is smaller than I imagined, but extends outward with a winter-proof heated tent to provide some extra seating. We grabbed seats at the bar so we could keep an eye on the Flyers game (and have MUCH better lighting!). This also ensured we had stellar service throughout the meal, as the bartender was always there to make sure we had what we needed.
There are daily food and drink specials, including a $12 all you can eat buffet the night we went, which I struggled to pass up. I wanted to try a variety of items that weren't offered on the buffet though, so we stuck to the regular menu.
Although the trip to Deke's was a dinner celebration for the birthday boy, I picked our appetizer- the "Fritters & Pickles," or jalapeno hush puppies and some pickled dills ($4?). I rarely see hush puppies in the Philly area, so not only was I excited to have them at all, I was actually very impressed with these. Their take is a really dense cornmeal-based doughball, with bits of chopped jalapenos throughout. The frying process gives them a thick crunchy exterior but maintains a soft, doughy interior. A thin hot sauce gave it even more heat, to be applied as needed.
Since my fiance can't NOT eat pulled pork, an order of the Smokin' Hog sandwich was a no brainer ($9). The pork is slow-cooked and shredded, and topped with a Carolina style vinegar-based sauce. The enormous pile of meat was incredibly tender, with a few shreds holding on to the crisped outside crust (my favorite part!). The sauce is fairly subtle, letting the meat do the talking, and the bun- a buttered soft yeast roll- which while not quite the sandwich "norm," was great for holding in the mess of meat.
All of the sandwiches come with two sides, a tiny tin of coleslaw and an enormous pile of roasted skin-on wedge fries. The food runner told us the fries come with a bit of the Carolina barbecue sauce splashed on, so if you're not a fan of vinegar, you might want to specify they hold it. Wedges are my all time favorite fries (hello, crispy skin and actual potato flavor!) so I definitely stole my fair share.
Since I wanted many small tastes of multiple items, I chose to make my own mix and match meal. Most importantly, a "small plate" of smoked brisket ($6), as it's definitely my favorite of all the barbecued meat options. All of the meats are available in this "smaller" portion-- you still receive plenty of it. The brisket is soft and smoky, with an inner pink ring serving as a telltale sign of hours spent cooking over wood. Brisket is notoriously fatty, but this had just the right amount to provide some juice and flavor without being gristly. They pre-applied some barbecue sauce, which might be one of my favorites around the city- nothing fancy, but spicy and tangy, with just a touch of smokiness.
I'm also a sucker for collard greens, so ordered a small bowl on the side ($3). The greens here are well-chopped, making them a little easier to eat, but are left in a deep pool of their cooking liquid. This made it more like collard soup, and kept it boilingly hot for quite awhile. The combination of the high temperature and the spice heat brought them slightly past my comfort zone, but it didn't stop me from consuming the entire portion.
Finally (what can I say, I was hungry!), I opted for a second side.. which is actually served as a double, since the coleslaw & cornbread come together ($3). Their coleslaw is my ideal- not too soggy, but not skimpy on the sauce, with lots of vinegar, mayo, and pepper (the most important flavor). The mix of fresh green cabbage and shredded carrots makes me feel like I'm getting in a good dose of veggies to offset the creamy dressing-- that's how it works, right?
The cornbread is sweet and cake-like, with a honey-soaked top and a small crumb. Cornbread can come in so many shapes, sizes, flavors, and textures, but I enjoyed this version- almost a dessert, but a good contrast to all the salty, smoky, savory items we had consumed.
The restaurant was MUCH quieter than I had expected, which I really appreciated, but perhaps most people are saving their barbecue for the summer. With Deke's enormous projector screen television, it might be one of the best places to hang out and watch a game I've found in awhile-- but please don't steal my seat there this summer come baseball season!
443 Shurs Lane