The PortlandFood.org group is planning on BBQ next month. So far I think we're agreed on Campbell's and Yam Yam's, but I thought I'd check out a new contender today, Big Daddy's on Hawthorne.
It's in an old diner/hamburger place with cafeteria quality tables and chairs and the original stools at the counter. That's about as close to good bbq you're going to get here. And the only positive thing from my first trip were the attractive wait staff with en vogue short shirts and thick belts on low-waisted pants showing their back tattoos. Don't tell my wife. But if I wanted that, there's about one nudie bar for every man in Portland and the food's probably better.
Got a two-meat combo plate which comes with 2 sides for $11.95. Trying to stay on low-carb, I just got double corn bread to-go. They had several of the typical sides, though, like beans, collard greens, potato salad, etc. They have the basic meats as well -- pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage -- with a couple somewhat atypical selections like smoked turkey. I chose brisket and spare ribs. Both were bad. The brisket was tender, but it was dry and had little flavor. There was no noticeable smoke ring, nor much if any smoke flavor. There was not crust of any kind on the outer layer of the meat. Allegedly they smoke it for 12 hours. Honestly, you'd be better off with some smartly boiled meat in a flavored stock. The pork ribs weren't any better. Little of the fat on them had actually melted. I don't mind fatty spare ribs. I prefer them over baby back (they do have baby back here). But damn it, they should be moist, tender, and flavorful. These weren't any of these things. One part of the ribs were actually so dry it was like chewing left-over thin pork chops that have been sitting in the fridge for a couple days. Maybe not quite that bad, but close. And little flavor.
The sauces are okay. They have 4, a spicy "Texas", a smoky "Memphis", a sweet/mild, and a mustard sauce. All a little sweet for me, but at least they had flavor. And you needed them for these meats.
I guess one bright point might be that it looked like they served a decent burger and fries, but I didn't get that, so I can't comment. But they looked decent. I certainly would order that if I was forced there rather than the BBQ.
I'm usually reluctant to be harsh with a place, especially after one visit, but not this time. If I can do significantly better on a gas grill in my back yard, the BBQ place has problems.