Thursday, May 20, 2010

Weekend Barbecue At Mel's Liquors In Jessup

If the Lonely Planet Guide wrote about Howard County, it would send 20-year-old foreigners to eat ribs in the parking lot of Mel's Liquors in Jessup.

With the warm weather, our local street food as returned in the form of steel-drum grills set up along the side of the road.  Still during breakfast hours last Saturday, I stumbled on a crew grilling chicken, beef and pork ribs on the side of Rte 175.  The smoke was too good to pass up.

That's how I found myself devouring pork ribs in the front seat of my car at 10 in the morning.  I actually had to hit an ATM for cash, but it was worth the extra effort.  The perfect crust of char and smoked meat ran along the entire 10-inch slab of ribs.  Inside, there was more fat than you'd get at a chain restaurant.  But the meat was moist and tender, and the smokey char was something that I have never been able to get at home.  Nothing was burned.  The ribs had just smoked and crusted along the edge in the way that I absolutely love.

(Update: It's a deep grilled flavor, no sauce or sweet flavors on top of the meat -- in response to Trevor-Peter's comment below.)

It's a $10 plate.  You get meat, plus rice, beans and a mild salsa of tomatoes and sweet onions.  They're all better than you'd get at a chain Mexican restaurant.  The red beans were the best.  They're cook with skill.  Tender, but still firm and tasting of beans in a way that canned or mushy ones never pull off.  As I scooped them up, I promised myself that I'd try soaking dried beans again.

This is great street food.  This area of Jessup and Elkridge clearly serves a growing group of Latin immigrants, and they're kicking off great food like the tacos at R&R Deli or the Pupuseria Lorenita taco truck.  My pork ribs could have -- maybe should have been -- lunch for two.  You could have a great afternoon trying this joint, then working through a few other places or driving the U.S. 1 "Foodie Frontier."

Last weekend, the stand was being run by three people, and they also had plastic bags of mango slices that looked excellent.  As it was, I was eating way more food than anyone needed at 10 am.  Their truck had no name, but they said that they would be cooking on weekends from morning until about 5:30 pm.  A little Spanish helped me ask questions, but you can order in English.

Itinerant BBQ has popped up several times along U.S. 1.  Email me if you spot any or if you can recommend a joint with a regular schedule.

Barbecue at Mel's Liquors
7915 Jessup Road (Rte 175)
Jessup, MD 20794
410-799-2988 (number for liquor store)
301-906-9550 (number on barbecue sign)

NEAR:  Mel's Liquors is at the intersection of Rte 175 and Dorsey Run Road.  It's about a mile east of the prison -- between the BW Parkway and U.S. 1.

Weekend Barbecue at Mel's Liquors on Urbanspoon


Trevor-Peter said...

Can you comment on the flavor of the meat? Is this BBQ as in, sweet & sticky, or is it just that it's grilled? (I ask, because I happen to like grilled, like Mexican, but generally detest the sweet stuff. So for me at least, it's something worth knowing.)

BeerGuy said...

That looks amazing. Your writing about this probably doubles their business this weekend :)

HowChow said...

@ Trevor-Peter - Great question. I had been trying to think about why these ribs were so different from Kloby's. It's grilled, smokey flavor, no sauce or sweet flavors on top of the meat.

Anonymous said...

I recently moved here from Hawaii and I love your blog. I highly suggest that you try the mexican BBQ truck off of Route 1 in Jessup, it's right after this gas station (sorry I don't remember the name),a little after Guilford Road. It's about the same price, but WAY more food than the picture that you posted. It's delicious and the people their are helpful. Their wagon is there from Fridays to Sunday and will give you huge samples if you are unsure what you want. They give you beans, rice, tortillas, fresh salsa, a huge grilled jalapeno pepper? It's great.

Keep up the great work!

dzoey said...

Ah, I just missed it. This morning I was looking for a liquor store on 175 east of the prison and saw the liquor store across 175 and Dorsey Run. I didn't see a BBQ pit but there was a very good taco truck there. No name or ID on the taco truck but the food was yummy. Next week I'll see if I can find Mel's. According to Google maps I was only across the street...

Brandon Miller - Milhouse44 said...

@Annon: I think you are talking about the grill set up on the south bound side of Rt. 1, just south of Guilford road in the parking lot between The Amoco and Comfort Inn. I have seen it and it is always busy. Sounds really good.