Friday, March 21, 2014

Paper Towel Tour: Grilled Ribs In Savage Start My Summer Search For U.S. 1 Barbeques

Ribs -- costillas de res -- from the food truck at Chesapeake Supply
Here comes the season of oil drum grills along U.S. 1.

As I have said before, the hip dining option for Howard County -- if there were a Lonely Planet Guide to this county -- would be the taco trucks and open grills that run from Laurel to Elkridge.  Grilled ribs.  Grilled chicken.  A mix of Latin side dishes.  You eat for $10, and you get the char and savory grease of a filling, authentic meal.

This is going to be my project for the summer.  I'm calling it my Paper Towel Tour because you'll want a roll in your car if you follow along.

I started on one of the first warm Saturdays with a stop in Savage -- a food truck dragging a black metal grill in the parking lot of Chesapeake Supply & Equipment Co.  I ordered the ribs.  These are not the fall-off-the-bone ribs that Mrs. HowChow prefers.  These are flanken-style ribs cut across the bone, often called "costillas de res" on Spanish signs.  You get strips of meat each studded with three or four pieces of bone.

The truck and grill
This is gnaw and bite work, and they were really good.  The fire gives the meat a slight char, and the marbled cut stays moist even cooked through.  I pulled chucks of meat away from the bone and wrapped them in thick pieces of corn tortilla.

The Paper Towel Tour will probably turn on side dishes.  I've eaten similar ribs at a bunch of grills over the years -- including a different stand set up in the same parking lot four years ago.  So far, they have all been delicious, but I'm not sure that I could distinguish the meats several weeks apart.

The real attention-grabbers are the side dishes.  Sometimes, you just get boring rice and beans, once even a supermarket tortilla.  In contrast, the truck at Chesapeake Supply put on a pretty good show.  A thick tortilla that tasted hand-made to me.  A fresh, flavorful salsa of tomato, onion and cilantro.  Those both seemed special.  I ate the red beans and the yellow rice, although they probably left some room for another truck to take the lead.

I mean -- I need a reason to stop five or six times for grilled ribs this summer.  If this first truck was perfect, there wouldn't be a need for a Paper Towel Tour.  And where would the fun be in that?

Who can offer advice for a Paper Towel Tour?  The Chesapeake lot is on the west side of U.S. 1 between Rte 175 and Rte 32.  I know there are two similar trucks south of there -- including one that I often see smoking just north of Rte 32.  I will need to work north to Elkridge as well, including a return trip to see if there is still a grill in the Mel's Liquor's parking lot in Jessup on Rte 175.  Can anyone recommend a favorite?  Or recommend a dish other than the costillas de res?

(Update: Kevlar51 is right in his comment below that the plastic forks don't really hold up.  If you're amused, consider buying a titanium spork -- like the TOAKS Titanium Spork that I bought on Amazon.  I keep one in my work bag, and I have used it many times when I ended up somewhere with lunch, but not cutlery.)

Grill Truck at Chesapeake Supply & Equipment Co.
8366 Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1)
Savage, MD 20763

NEAR: Chesapeake Supply is on U.S. 1 between Rte 175 and Rte 32.  It is on the west side of the road.  When I went past, there was another grill truck on the east side of U.S. 1 a little south of Chespaeake.  I look for these grill trucks on the weekend, but they may be out weekdays during good weather as well.


kevlar51 said...

I've stopped going to these. The meat's tasty, but too messy for my circumstances (lunch in my car). The plasticware is among the flimsiest I've ever seen (seemingly at each establishment) and so I'm stuck ripping meat off the slab with my hands and teeth.

If you're not in my boat, you might be OK.

The places that really tick me off though are those stands with "Taqueria y Pupusaria" painted on the truck, yet serve neither tacos nor pupusas--just the grilled meat.

Travis said...

If you like this style, there is a truck on Amberton, which is off of Route 1, just north of 100. He is there M-F except Tuesdays. Pork Ribs, chicken, flank's all great. Not sure exactly where he is on the weekend.

HowChow said...

@Kevlar -- I'm with you, but I can't stay away. So I'm going with a toll of paper towel. If you don't like those plastic forks, I always recommend a Toaks titanium spork. It's fun to say, and it works. I'll create a link in the main post.

@Travis -- Thanks. I appreciate it. I will add the truck on Amberton to my plans for the summer.

Southern Skies Coffee Roasters said...

We really enjoy the offerings at "Las Delicias" on Rt. 1 South just past the Guilford Rd. intersection. On Friday, they have super-tasty pupusas.

Anonymous said...

There's a truck that used to be on Dorsey Run near Rt 32 on Thu? Theres also one on Oceano by Rt 175 I've seen on weekends.

Unknown said...

The one you are referring to just north of 32 has a fantastic carne asada burrito and papusas with really refreshing pickled vegetables.

Anonymous said...

There is one at Grandfathers garden center with ribs, chicken, and smoked salmon. Corn and sweet potatoes are delicious sides.