Over the summer I had the pleasure of sampling a pulled pork sandwich on Fountain Square from Eli’s BBQ. It was the same day that I tried Tom + Chee for the first time. At that time, Eli was only operating from the food tents that were located on the square, but once the city removed them late last year, the owners were forced to find other options. Fortunately they found a space at 3313 Riverside Drive to open a permanent restaurant and it just happens to be relatively close to my home. In addition to the new location, the menu has also grown from the single item pulled pork sandwich and now included smoked turkey and ribs.
The new restaurant space seats 25-30 people comfortably at a variety of high or low top tables. At the back of the dining space is a record player that was playing a variety of folk and bluegrass tunes. Orders are placed at the back of the space, near an open door to the kitchen. Menu items are written on a chalk board hanging on the back wall. Currently only cash and checks are accepted, so plan accordingly.
My wife and I agreed to split a variety of the food offerings. I walked to the counter and ordered the pulled pork sandwich platter with baked beans and cheese macaroni, as well as a hickory smoked turkey sandwich platter with jalapeño cheese grits and jalapeño corn bread. We also decided to sample two bottles of Ale-8-One, a ginger ale like soft drink from Kentucky, which I really liked and will have to find more of in the future.
The pulled pork was just as good as I remembered it being this past summer. Easily the best pulled pork sandwich in the area, at least that I’ve had. The pork has a bit of smokey flavor, is really tender, and is just a bit crisp on the ends. It comes served on a grilled honey bun and is topped with a great flavored coleslaw and some of the wonderful signature BBQ sauce. The baked beans were awesome, quite possibly my favorite ever! They weren’t overly spicy, but had a really nice complex flavor full of various spices. The cheese macaroni was super creamy.
The smoked turkey sandwich was definitely more smokey in flavor than the pork. For me, it might have been smoked just a tad too long. It was thick sliced and piled high on the same grilled honey bun and again topped with slaw and sauce. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the pulled pork, but I will still order it again on future visits. The sides with this platter both featured jalapeños. Typically I’m not a fan of grits, as I find them bland and boring, but these were full of flavor. I would easily order them again if it weren’t for the other sides that I enjoyed even more. The cornbread was delicious! It was still moist and the addition of jalapeño helped kick it up a notch.
Everything we had cost only $20. The sodas were $2 each, making the platters just $8 each for a ton of food! My wife couldn’t finish her portion so I gladly cleaned up behind her. I couldn’t get enough of Eli’s wonderful food. We will be back soon and I encourage you to visit perhaps the best BBQ spot in the city.