Elias Leisring started building his pulled pork reputation under canopies at Findlay Market and Fountain Square in 2011. There, on weekends and weekdays, he simultaneously wielded an eight-inch offset spatula and pizza wheel over a sizzling flattop like a ninja ’cuemaster, cutting and scraping the pork shoulder he had dry-rubbed and smoked for 15 to 20 hours into shreds, hitting it with a stream of mopping sauce from a squirt bottle, then gathering the bits onto buttered, toasted buns to serve to the suits that queued for 20 feet in front of him. The good word spread, and soon after Leisring got himself a proper little ’cue shack along the river, adding ribs that are speaking-in-tongues good, some of the zazziest jalapeño cheese grits north of the Mason-Dixon line, and browned mashed potatoes that would make any short order cook diner-proud. Open a little over a year, the small no-frills restaurant—packed cheek-by-jowl most nights—feels like it’s been there a lifetime, with customers dropping vinyl on the turntable, dogs romping in the side yard, and picnic tables crowded with diners. The hooch is bring-your-own, and the barbecue is bona fide.
3313 Riverside Dr., East End, (513) 307-8318, elisbarbeque.com
Originally published in the March 2013 issue.