Who would think such big flavor came from such a tiny place?
Tex’s Pig Pit BBQ has occupies a small wood frame house along Ontario Street that is painted bright pink. You can’t miss it. “Bubble gum pink,” said Mom, my dining companion of the evening. They serve chicken, ribs and various kinds of barbecue, in addition to fried stuff and a variety of sides for eating in or taking away.
Tex’s Pig Pit BBQ
WHERE: 84 Ontario St., Cohoes. Phone 235-2323 or pigpitbbq.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
HOW MUCH: $25.80
MORE INFO: Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, Discover. Not wheelchair accessible. Catering and delivery available.
Most of the restaurant space is given over to the counter and prep area, and a big drinks cooler fills the small area left along the back wall. It’s not as claustrophobic as you’d expect, because the plate glass window opens up the front and the wall opposite the counter is mirrored.
There are only a few seats, and all of the other customers who came in picked up orders to take away — so we had the place to ourselves.
While we were reading the menus on the walls, the counter and on paper, an employee behind the counter addressed us: “First time?” he asked politely. Was it that obvious? He disappeared into the back of the restaurant and returned with two small plastic cups and forks. “Pulled pork,” he said. It was sweet and smoky, the pork tender and rich.
Choose from mesquite smoked chicken, pulled pork, ribs, or beef brisket. You can get your choice tucked in a sandwich, alone in a basket, or as a full meal with sides. There is a selection of fried appetizers and sides to accompany your meal, and as we found later, some specials like fried green beans and pickles. The green beans are “Sooo good,” according to the cashier, but the staff was split on the fried pickles.
Mom was clear on what she wanted. “Chicken and ribs,” she said. I tried to order à la carte, but was redirected by the helpful employee. “You want to order the combo; it’s less money,” I was told. He pointed to a meal of a half chicken and quarter rack of ribs, with two sides, for $14.95.
I was tempted to order the pulled pork, but chose the leaner brisket instead ($5.95), in a sandwich, and without any sides because I knew Mom always shares her fries. I took the two enormous plastic cups to the dispenser and filled them up only part way — we’d never finish a full cup that big.
We sipped our sodas as we waited. Ontario Street was busy, and people-watching kept us occupied until our food was ready just a few minutes later.
The combo dinner came on a plastic tray lined with paper, and boy, did it look good. Mom dug into the chicken. There were two pieces — the leg and thigh, and the breast and wing. The skin was browned and the meat was full of smoky flavor. It wasn’t a big chicken; it was just the right size for this kind of thing. The leg and thigh disappeared before I finished contemplating my sandwich.
If you order a sandwich, you can choose a hamburger bun or hoagie roll. Thinking the bun wouldn’t be up to the job, I chose the roll for its integrity. It’s a big roll. In fact, I tore away some so it wouldn’t fill me up. It’s a chewy too, in a nice way, yeasty and hearty. The beef brisket was sliced very thin and topped with their barbecue sauce. The hickory smoke was clearly evident and satisfying, but I wished the beef had a bit more fat, as it was quite lean. When I asked for more sauce, the counter staff was happy to oblige.
Mom shared her fries, which were hot from the fry vat, and though not my favorite kind, as good as they could be. We ate them all. The coleslaw got a thumbs up from Mom, too. “It’s sweet and fresh,” she said.
Rack of ribs
There are four ribs in a quarter rack, and I quickly abandoned my sandwich when Mom offered one. There’s seasoning rubbed onto the meat, and it’s slathered in that same sauce. This is what I’d get next time: tender pork that easily comes off the rib, coated in sweet smoky sauce. If you order just ribs, at this writing a full rack of 16 ribs is $18.95.
The Pit is moving into new digs next summer, in a new building that is more accessible from I-787. So watch for the grand opening. There will be more room to eat in but the same great barbecue.