|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.|
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.
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