Uncle Grube's is the kind of place where the counter help have opinions. Do you recommend the beef or the pork? "The beef." With horseradish? "Get horseradish and our homemade barbeque sauce." They make good stuff, and they know it. Who am I to argue? "Onions too. Do you like onions?"
I like the Uncle Grubes sandwich, that's for sure. I really like it. The beef is a bit thicker than I have had in other places. But it is that flavorful pit beef cut, charred perfectly on the edge of each slice and moistened by the toppings. The coleslaw looks
homemade with a surprisingly light dressing. Creamy, mostly tasting of crisp cabbage. Spiced by something, but not strong enough that I recognize it. Great food on a picnic table is the simply delicious that I respect and that makes me regret every "just okay" sandwich that I suffer through elsewhere.
The restaurant clearly does a catering and party business. A block off U.S. 1, it also offers some minimal indoor seating and a covered area with picnic benches. You can also get ribs and barbeque sandwiches along with other sides and fountain sodas. Bring cash. There is a $10 minimum on credit cards, and I had to buy a soda to make my minimum.
While you are at Smokey & Uncle Grube's, you are a few blocks north of the El Patio restaurant and store -- both of which offer empanadas. You carry out some empanadas to heat later at home. Or you could overdose on meat by pairing your pit beef with tacos from Pupuseria Lorenita's. Click here for a post about all the cool places that you find along U.S. 1.
If you like barbeque, definitely check out Kloby's Smokehouse on Johns Hopkins Road where Laurel, Columbia and Fulton come together. If you just want to eat delicious when you eat less-than-healthy, check out the sausage at Boarman's Meat Market in Highland or the burgers at Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia.
For detailed Chowhound posts about the best pit beef, start here or here. Pit beef is the perfect kind of meal to find on Chowhound. Most of the places are in Baltimore or farther, but I remember them for the day when I'll have some errand that takes me past.