Bo-Mack's BBQ in Albany

Driving through downtown Albany, Mrs. VN spotted a sign that said, "Bo-Mack's BBQ" just before the bridge on 1st Ave.  She asked if I had heard of it, which I had, but not a whole lot about it and I'd never had an chance to go.  However, her question opened the door of opportunity.  I praised her ingenuity, "What a great idea, let's stop and get some BBQ to-go!"  I know U-turns on highways are illegal in Oregon, but sometimes they're entirely necessary.
The entry is modestly decorated with western-themed trinkets and knick-knacks.  The general feel of the restaurant is a mix of "chuck wagon" and "good ol' fashioned BBQ" with red and white checkered paint on the windows and natural wood trim and decor throughout the restaurant.  It smelled like smoke.  The kind of smoke a BBQ joint should smell like.  Unless my nose deceived me, I'll say it was hickory.

We walked up to the counter and grabbed a menu, quickly picking out the 2-Meat "Bo-Mack Plate" with pulled pork and brisket, and opted to "Bo-Mack It Up" by adding 3 ribs as well.  For sides, we selected macaroni and cheese, hush puppies, and sweet potato tater tots.  "Are you sure that's enough?" I asked.  Mrs. VN didn't quite understand the seriousness of the situation and went ahead and paid for our order before I could add the chicken and sausage to it.

Now, you'll note the distinct lack of pictures of food in this post.  I'd like to tell you there's a good, well thought-out reason for that.  The fact is, once I opened the container and saw the contents, my animal instincts took over and I had only one thought in my head -- and 'take pictures' was not that thought.  So if you want to see what it looks like, you'll just have to go and try it for yourself.

Now about that food.  I often hold-back when writing a review of someone's BBQ because I have high standards.  I know restaurants have to balance their focus more on quantity so that they can't match the quality of competition Q, so I give that some consideration.  But I'm not going to hold back here.  Bo-Mack's has every bit of the potential to meet my highest expectations.  And they are close to doing that -- really close.

I judge the quality of a BBQ joint by whatever they claim as their specialty.  Bo-Mack's has a sign claiming "Award Winning Ribs" (winning a 7th place ribbon in the Albany KCBS BBQ competition a couple of years ago).  7th may not sound like much, but I've been in a couple of BBQ competitions, and I can tell you that ribs that come in last place at those competitions are still better than anything you'll find in Salem.  Bo-Mack's ribs were tender, had excellent flavor and were finished with an excellent sauce, but they were a bit under-cooked.  They needed about 20-30 minutes longer on the smoker, however, I'm going to take a chance and say this was probably an isolated incident.  You don't get 7th place with under-cooked ribs.  Their brisket was tender with a mild and flavorful rub and a perfect smoke-ring, but whoever was slicing it got sloppy and sliced me a chunk nearly an inch thick along with one that was 1/4" at one end and 1/16" at the other.  The pulled pork was perfect.  Honestly.  I can't say I've had better pulled pork within 100 miles of here.  This includes my back yard, although Mrs. VN disagrees on that point.  It has a distinct flavor about it (which I'm certain was a hint of cinnamon) and it was the ultimate in tenderness.  I could have eaten two pounds of it and suppressed the guilt forever.

And I haven't even gotten to the sides or the sauces.  The hush puppies were just the way I like them with a crispy cornmeal outside and moist inside, and the macaroni and cheese was delicious -- with a unique cheesy-garlicky flavor.  And the sweet potato tater tots were outstanding.  I will get them EVERY TIME I go.  Oh yes, and our order included corn bread.  Corn bread is often done poorly.  Most places don't spend too much effort on making the corn bread really good.  However, this corn bread was the first I've had that I would actually consider ordering on it's own.

For their sauces, we tried Original, Extreme, Unleashed, and Zesty.  All of which were excellent, and each as good as the first.

Bo-Mack's, if you're listening, cook your ribs a few minutes longer, slice your brisket more consistently, and you've done what I daresay no other BBQ restaurant in the Willamette Valley has done and balanced quantity with competition Q.  See you again soon.

Bo-Mack's - http://www.bo-mack.com/
119 First Ave E
Albany, Oregon 97321
(541) 791-7058

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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

VN,

That's funny, I beat your finding this restaurant by about an hour. I share in many ways your remarks about this BBQ. I only had a pulled pork sandwich, but was impressed. After sampling the coleslaw, I had to add the slaw to the sandwich. It made for a great addition. My untrained palate wouldn't go so far as to say the pulled pork was that much better than anything I have had in Salem. It was very good though. I also would recommend the cornbread, light, moist and flavorful.

N

Vegan's Nightmare said...

Anony-N,

I'm glad you enjoyed it too! And I'm interested to hear where you've had better pulled pork in Salem!

VN

solarjinx said...

I've a friend who lives in Albany who keeps telling me to come down and try Bo-Mack's. I lived in North Carolina for over ten years, so southern style food is something I desperately crave and can never find enough of. After reading your blog (and ignoring the advice of my friend), I'm driving down ASAP!

Chuck Bradley said...

I think VN is right (Again. No surprise there.) Bo-Mack's is the best Que in the mid-valley. As VN has previously stated, Wild Pineapple is no slouch either. (No Ribs, however.) I think the Ribs at Duffy's Hangar are good. Also, worthy of mention is Pigfeathers in Toledo. It's a bit of a drive, but if your headed for Newport and are not Jonesin' for seafood, why not stop?

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to try this place. Since we're mentioning great BBQ in Oregon, I'd like to chime in and say I stumbled upon Baldy's BBQ in Bend last weekend after partaking in snow activities in Hoodoo. Everything we had was excellent, from the onion rings, ribs, pulled pork, and burger to the sides and BBQ sauce. A must if you are in the area. Coming soon to Redmond too.

Salem Man said...

When you forget to get a picture of your food before you start eating, there's an easy fix. Get a picture of another customers food before they start eating. Nice review. Albany has a pretty cool little downtown.

gstatty said...

There used to be a place in Corvallis called Sweet's BBQ like 10-15 years ago that was the best BBQ I've had since growing up in North Carolina (I see you solarjinx). Now if I need to satisfy my cravings for ribs or pulled pork without making it at home, I drive up to this place in Portland called Podnah's Pit, which is the best BBQ I've had since Sweet's, though it is Texas Style. Their pulled pork is phenomenal and so is their Carolina style hot pepper vinegar sauce. I am really happy to hear that there is some good authentic BBQ closer to me than Portland and I will definitely have to give Bo-Mack's a try. Thx VN!

Anonymous said...

Ok, I am not experienced enough to tell which breed of cow that the pulled pork came from, but based on only one sandwich, not all of my pork was pulled. Some of it was cut. Because of this and the depth of the smoke ring I am not going to say it is the best I've had. I can think of a place near downtown Salem that has served me both better and not better. In my case one sample is not enough for me to give away my memories. Warm August day, good music, great sandwich, WA cider, and nothing else to do (sigh). Now I hope everyone goes to Bo-Mack's, eats the food and tells me I'm wrong.

N

Vegan's Nightmare said...

You are absolutely right. The stuff I had wasn't pulled, it was shredded and cut as well. My apologies! However, it didn't take away from how good it tasted. I will amend my comment to say it's the best "shredded or cut" pork I've had in the area!

Can you tell me where you've had pulled pork in Salem? I believe even Adams' is shredded. It's rare to find actual pulled pork around here.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the wild pineapple have pulled pork? The last time I had it (superb) I remember it being pulled.

Rebekah said...

Praytell, what is the difference between shredded and pulled pork? Apparently, I may have been enjoying the wrong pork! Egads! :)

DeeDeeDiner said...

Actually "pulled" pork is pulled into shreds, and the two terms are used interchangeably. Shredding the cooked pork (either with fingers or two forks) maintains the meat's integrity. The less desirable option is to have the meat sliced, diced or otherwise cut which allows it to dry out.
3-D

Vegan's Nightmare said...

It looks like this discussion has evolved into BBQ and meat technicalities, which I'm happy to engage in!

In my experience, there are two key differences between pulled and shredded pork:

1) Pulled pork is made by pulling pieces of pork in strips, along the grain, from the pork shoulder. Shredded pork is basically just ripped apart with your fingers, fork, or a fancy claw-like tool.

2) Pulled pork done properly is cooked to a slightly lower internal temperature than the temperature necessary for shredded pork. With shredded pork, the muscle fibers in the meat have had more time to break down, which makes it pretty easy to just break apart the shoulder with your hands. You can still pull the pork at a higher temperature, but it's really hard to shred at the lower temperature.

Chopped pork is just pork shoulder chopped up with a knife.

In any case, the pulled vs. shredded debate is one that usually involves a long day and a large cooler of beer. And I'd be happy to lead the discussion.

VN

tracylee said...

According to a FaceBook post from 2/25, Duffy's Hangar sells pulled pork by the pound at $6.99/lb. I'm sure it's on their menu on a regular basis to try before buying. I haven't tried it myself.

Anonymous said...

gstatty - my husband is from NC and loves it chopped with vinegar sauce and coleslaw. i'm a memphis girl and we don't see eye to eye on Q but podnah's makes us both weep with joy. best we've had (by a long, long, long, long shot) since we moved here last august. nothing else comes close!

go heels,

C