Backyard BBQ Pit (Durham, NC)

I know barbecue joints can be divey – you almost expect that – but it can add to the personality of the place in a positive way.  Not so with Backyard BBQ Pit, a small roadside restaurant in bustling Research Triangle Park.  This place, it must be said, is just kind of dumpy.  Below the food counter, where servers load up your plate from cafeteria style metal trays, the yellowed wall is scrawled all over with marker.  This feature bears an unfortunate resemblance to a gas station bathroom stall.  Combined with the dated decor, it gives an overall impression of neglect that is not very inviting.  In fact, I nearly turned around and walked out upon entering.  But I pressed ahead, in hopes that some good food would distract me from the ambiance.

The menu is straightforward in a classic bbq joint sort of way.  I ordered a chopped pork bbq plate ($6.49), which comes with two sides.  None of the sides looked particularly appealing, so I opted for mac&cheese (for my daughter’s sake) and green beans (to get some veggies in).  I think the mac&cheese has a different price than other side items (as the restaurant’s website claims), or else the coleslaw I also asked for raised the total price a little, but regardless it was definitely an inexpensive way to feed the two of us.

The food was just so-so.  The barbecue was good enough, but pretty unexciting.  It was pretty coarsely chopped, which I like, but it wasn’t terribly smoky, though they reportedly cook over wood.  There are a variety of sauces you can add if you choose.  I was not a fan of the bland, super-finely chopped coleslaw.  The hushpuppies (it came with three) were large and sweet but had likely been under a heat lamp for a while.  The macaroni and cheese was cheesy and and a little greasy.  I let my daughter eat most of that; she certainly had no problem with it.  The green beans actually would have been quite good if they hadn’t been heavily oversalted.

So yeah, I crossed it off my list of local bbq places to try, but I really doubt that I’d go back.  If I did I might try the ribs – a lot of people seemed to be ordering those.  One thing is for sure: I would insist on getting take-out.