It’s always a question whether Fins, Feathers, & Bar-B-Que will be open because his barbecue joint is technically the Reverend Herschel Willis’s second job. How to tell if the Rev is in? Just stand on any street near the central business district and inhale.
The heavenly aroma of his two steel drum smokers on the Garfield Place sidewalk carries for blocks. Since soul-food style ribs can be a little dry for the uninitiated, newbies might want to stick with the rib tips, drenched in the Rev’s just-right sauce. He usually has smoked wings and half a chicken as well, but you never quite know what’s cooking until you get there. They may have his unique pulled pork sandwich (made with boneless ribs) or grilled metts in hot sauce. The Rev says he fixes all sides—think hearty collards, baked beans, and substantial mac and cheese—himself, except for the chips because he doesn’t have a bagging machine. But if they have strawberry cobbler for dessert (and they usually do) save some room. It might be the nicest thing anyone ever thought to blanket in a buttery crust. Being an actual man of the cloth (as smoky as that cloth may smell), the Rev’s own Visions and Dreams ministries may have him out assisting the poor or helping people get on their feet, which means he might get to cooking a bit late. But if it looks like the corner of Eighth and Vine is on fire, well, you know the Rev is in.
Fins, Feathers, & Bar-B-Que, 3 Garfield Pl., downtown, (513) 607-6096. Nominally open for lunch and dinner Mon–Sat.