Two years ago, reporting on bluegrass and barbecue in Owensboro, Kentucky, I took a tour of the massive kitchen of the hallowed Old Hickory Bar-B-Q. I shouldn’t have done it. As a former long-time vegetarian (I realize that I just lost cred with the hardcore carnivores), I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to appreciate real barbecue in its raw form. But cooked? Delicious! Walt’s Barbeque on Colerain Avenue could, with a few tweaks, be ranked in the same league as Old Hickory. One main difference: Walt’s serves Texas-style barbecue, with an emphasis on pork, while the folks in Owensboro are famous for their barbecued mutton. That minor quibble aside, Walt’s house-made sauce is excellent—thick, slightly spicy, slightly sweet, and not too tangy—and the smoked hickory flavor is evident in all of their slow-cooked fare. The baby back ribs were, by far, the highlight of the menu: ultra-tender, high-quality meat, and plenty of it. While the whole roasted chicken was perfectly moist and smoky, the beef brisket was a disappointment. Dry and charred around the edges, it was clearly overcooked. Walt’s serves more than 20 different hot and cold side dishes, including fantastic collard greens, baked beans, and a sweet potato casserole that was more dessert than vegetable. One tip: The local outpost of Glenn Beck’s 9-12 group (nine principals, 12 values, one love for pork) apparently meets here every Wednesday afternoon. But don’t let that hinder you.
6040 Colerain Ave., Colerain Township(513) 923-9800Prices: $8.48–$19.99 Lunch & diner seven days
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