Alison Matas taste-tests pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket, baby-back ribs, macaroni and cheese, green beans, baked beans, potato salad and french fries at Mission BBQ.At Mission BBQ, even the vegetables have meat in them.
The barbecue chain opened its only Ohio location this year in the Belden Village area on the former Friendly’s site. The restaurant’s tagline is “proudly serving those who serve,” and it’s dedicated to supporting and hiring people who have served in the armed forces or are first responders.
In addition to saying there’s no one “more American” than the people who protect the country and its communities, the restaurant’s website also declares “there is nothing more American than BBQ.” The menu includes ribs, sandwiches, meat samplers and the kinds of sides you would find at a family picnic. Main dishes don’t come with sides, so you either order the extras you want for $2 each or make the meal a combo. It’s $3 extra for a drink and one side and $4 extra for a drink and two sides.
Mission BBQ is casual dining—you place your order at a counter and then pick it up when your name is called. The tables have rolls of paper towels, and you grab your own condiments and drinks while you wait. We went on a weekday night around 5 p.m., and it took less than 10 minutes for our food to be ready.
We ordered a 10-bone rack of baby back ribs ($18.99); a three-meat market sampler with pulled chicken, pulled pork and brisket ($13.49); and sides of fries, macaroni and cheese, green beans with bacon, baked beans with brisket, and potato salad.Our meal cost $50. My first thought when I saw our trays headed for our table was that it wasn’t much food. But with four meats, five sides and six barbecue sauces to choose from, we barely made it through half of what we ordered.
From the meat sampler, the pulled chicken was the winner. It was well-seasoned and moist, especially compared to the brisket, which was drier. The ribs also tasted good but had a lot of fat and were pretty greasy going down.
What really made the meal fun was sampling all the different sauces. Each table has a cardboard container holding squeeze bottles of barbecue sauces withdescriptions of each. Some of my favorites were the sweeter Memphis Belle, the Smoky Mountain and the Tupelo Honey Heat.
As for the sides, the best were the seasoned french fries, the creamy macaroni and cheese, and the baked beans with brisket, which were tender with a strong barbecue flavor.
For $2 each, we upgraded our sweet tea and lemonade to the bigger “American Heroes” plastic cups. All the money raised through the upcharge will be donated to the Jackson Township Fire Department.
And that, I think, is the coolest thing about this chain—its commitment to giving back to the people protecting the communities where its restaurants are located. We went shortly before 9/11, and there was a sign on the door saying all first responders would get a free sandwich that day.