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Restaurant Review: Red Door BBQ

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Restaurant Review: Red Door BBQOutside Red Door BBQ's Franklinton location. Photo by Lauren Sega.
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Red Door BBQ is a sign that Franklinton is an evolving neighborhood: the area is entering the early revitalization stage that happens about a decade before gentrification pushes out the local inhabitants. The eatery opened with a splash this spring, just in time for barbecue season, and has already scored a spot on local BBQ hit-lists. Red Door is a bona fide destination, making Franklinton a destination by default.

Guests don’t use the red door. It’s at the corner of the building for deliveries. Instead, guests walk up to a big, sturdy stable door, open at the top, and place their orders for carry-out, choosing from a streamlined, traditional menu posted at the side.

The basic meal options work like this: for $10, guests choose a meat and two sides. That makes the joint super-affordable, as it piles both quality and quantity into styrofoam clamshell boxes.

So, ribs first, because ribs are the foundation of any barbecue business. They are exquisite, meaty, with a distinct smoke and brine that takes them almost to hamminess. It’s worth noting that, while the smoking process can yield meat that is dry and chewy, the meat on Red Door’s ribs retains a cooperatively soft texture.

There are other classic options on the menu. An order of brisket yields a mountain of meat (and a few globs of fat) piled onto a bun with the glistening house barbecue sauce. The meat has more of a natural beefiness to it, with far less cure and smoke than the ribs. It relies on the barbecue sauce for additional flavor. That sauce is super-sweet, which means it gets a mixed reception. It’s best in small doses, as it has the potential to turn a main dish into a dessert.

Wings might be less of a grill classic, but they’re worth ordering here, most particularly because Red Door gives them the house treatment that infuses the poultry flesh with more smoke and brine. They’re served clean, and easy to scarf down straight, without the offered sweet sauce.

In the side department, online diners rave about the beans. Both baked beans and green beans are on the menu. The baked beans are sweet like pickle relish, and in fact, that may be one of the ingredients, as little chunks of green add interest to the mix. Curiously, the soft green beans are also a little sweet, with chunks of potato in the mix.

But, both options pale in the face of the supreme house macaroni and cheese. Just skip the sweet bean stuff, get two sides of mac, and you’ll get heaps of soft, lush noodles drowning in a rich, creamy home-style cheese sauce. It absolutely tastes like love.

The coleslaw side was also tried: course cabbage and carrots in a mayo-based dressing — traditional fare.

For dessert, the house bread pudding ($3) was recommended, and that’s a rock-solid choice. An order yields a big container of fluffy, eggy pudding with enough ambient sweet syrup to side at the sides and lap up at the end. There’s also lemonade ($2), made-to-order with fresh lemons, to wash it all down.

You can find Red Door Barbecue at 177 S. Cypress Ave. It’s open Tuesdays through Sundays at 11 a.m., and serves until the food is gone.

For more information, visit reddoorbbq.com

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