I was originally going to tack this post onto another one I have planned for later in the week (or month), but on reflection I decided to go ahead and make it its own post. I'm out of town doing some Army training, and though staying in a very nice hotel with a small suite, I don't have any desire to cook my own meals so I've been going out to various restaurants. I'm not one to turn down bar-b-que when I come across it, so when I ran into Mission BBQ, I had to give it a try.
Now, you might think it strange that I'm reviewing a restaurant on a miniatures wargaming blog, but I'll explain that here. Having never deployed in 12 years of service, I'm always a little embarrassed when I get the "thank you for your service" treatment. I do appreciate it, but I just haven't done anything. I was genuinely touched and appreciative, however, when I walked into Mission BBQ and got what they were about.
First, let me talk about the food. Since I'm not a local, I don't have the opportunity to eat there regularly (which I would do, if I was local), but being on an extended TDY, I've eaten there a couple of times so far (and plan to eat there a couple more times before I leave) and haven't had anything that wasn't absolutely top notch. You order your meal from an a la carte menu which includes meat (either by itself or on a sandwich), sides and your drink. Each meal comes with cornbread as well.
So far, I've had the brisket and pork and both are delicious - perfectly smoked with a dry rub that, if anything, is slightly understated. It is very tasty, without a lot of heat. There is no sauce on the meat, which some bbq fanatics might consider heresy, but don't despair - there are six home-made sauces that you can try. I like to separate the meat into bite-sized portions and sample the different sauces at my leisure.
The sauces are modeled on the typical flavor in various bbq regions around the country - they have a Memphis, Texas, Smoky Mountain, Carolina, Mississippi and I know I'm missing one (and might have one wrong - erk!) and I think Mission scored big with their system.
I've had the cole slaw, baked beans and fries as sides. The cole slaw is pretty typical, but the beans are unusual. They are not spicy or plain - rather, they have a pleasant sauce on them and chunks of brisket mixed in. The fries were just about the best fries I've ever had outside of poutine, which is its own experience altogether.
Now don't get me wrong, from what I've written you might think that I don't appreciate spice or heat. I like both as my wife (who has learned to appreciate a little spice and heat since marrying me) and my kids (one of whom is wary of anything dad barbeques and one who is the true defender of his father's cooking) will attest, but I find that restaurants typically overdo both, if they even do either, but Mission has it down perfectly.
The cornbread is just about perfect, too. It is sweet and moist with bits of pineapple, I believe, without being too heavy. In fact, it reminds me of the cornbread the my black cooks used to make when I was first in the Army. Now, they knew how to cook despite the confines of the Army system!
Now, the real 'meat' (pun intended) for why I'm writing this. Mission BBQ is a big supporter of the military and emergency services in this region. Walking in the restaurant was a surprise - its covered in emergency services and military patches that have been given to the restaurant, along with photos and even some memorabilia and other militaria. There's a sign on the door offering a free sandwich to emergency services personnel and they are big supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project, which becomes clear at the restaurant, but without being blaring or self-serving. Their website, found here, gives a fine tribute to the people who serve us - both military and not.
In fact, seeing it hearkened back to Campagno's, a sandwich shop just down the street from DLI, which had the best sandwiches and cake at reasonable prices, and both loved the military and was loved by it! There wasn't an inch of that store that wasn't covered in something military related.
Currently Mission BBQ has three stores - two in the Baltimore area, another further south, and two building with another going up in MD and one in York, PA.
As I said, being military and having previously been in law enforcement, I was touched by what they stand for, and I call on you, dear readers, to give Mission BBQ a try if you're in the Baltimore area or if you're just visiting for any reason. You won't be disappointed and you'll be helping to support people who really care and who really 'get it'.