BBQ done right: From sauce to ribs, brisket and more, Mr. Powdrell's Barbeque House pleases - Albuquerque Journal

BBQ done right: From sauce to ribs, brisket and more, Mr. Powdrell’s Barbeque House pleases

Joe Powdrell checks on the selection in the smoker at Mr. Powdrell’s Barbeque on North Fourth Street. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)
Joe Powdrell checks on the selection in the smoker at Mr. Powdrell’s Barbeque on North Fourth Street. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Albuquerque had a lucky day 53 years ago when a K-Mart maintenance man with a sandwich truck decided to open a barbecue place on East Central. Because the way you spell barbecue in Albuquerque is P-O-W-D-R-E-L-L’S.

Pete Powdrell and his descendants have made Burquenos happy ever since, serving hickory-smoked brisket, ribs and so much more. The Southern barbecue he brought to town originated with his grandfather’s Baton Rouge, La., recipe that matured with his investigation of East Texas smoking techniques.

Taste in barbecue is highly personal, at least as personal as the way you like your eggs or your steak cooked; either it’s done right or it’s not. While Albuquerque now has close to a half-dozen good barbecue options – and I know them all – Powdrell’s remains the go-to place. To my taste, they always get it right.

The sauce is a balance of sweet and tangy, with no single ingredient dominating. It’s neither distracting nor overpowering, not too sweet and not too sharp, glazing into a deep ruby patina on the meaty ribs and amping up the moist and tender hickory smoke-infused brisket.

A half-pound brisket dinner with two sides (I recommend the fresh coleslaw and delectable house recipe potato salad) and toast runs $13.95; the rib dinner is a buck more.

Half BBQ platters of chicken, smoked sausage either mild or spicy, pork, irresistible ribs or brisket, considered the epitome of barbecue, the meat that tests the prowess of the grillmaster, run $8.50-$9.50; the full platters are priced between $15.95-$17.95. If you can’t make up your mind, there’s the combo plate ($22.95) laden with brisket, pork ribs, chicken and sausage.

And can they fry. Any restaurant that makes fried onion rings in house deserves a cheer, but these sweet, crunchy babies ($7.95) rate a standing ovation.

Their fried zucchini ($7.95) is the crispiest and lightest that ever took a dip in ranch dressing.

You may be in danger of losing it if you order the fried mac and cheese, $3.50 a side, a dish of addictive little cheesy explosions you never imagined possible.

Just for a change, I recently ordered a sleeper from the menu, the steak and pork ribs dinner ($21.95) with a surprisingly tasty and tender rib-eye that wore its smoky flavor like a designer ball gown.

Sweet potato pie, ($3.75) a golden orange slice of gently pumpkin pie spiced delectable creaminess, provides complete contentment.

The simple, homey warmth of the 1936 historic house on North Fourth Street, its mantel crowded with family photos, conjures a bygone era, a quieter time, when a family meal was a celebration, and grandma delighted in cooking up a storm.

The legendary Powdrell welcome – an easy graciousness that exceeds what customarily goes by the name “service” – is an essential ingredient in the comfort served here. Take-out is fine, but dining in is so much better.

Thank goodness some things never change.

Home » Entertainment » Dining Reviews » BBQ done right: From sauce to ribs, brisket and more, Mr. Powdrell’s Barbeque House pleases


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Need a cup of locally roasted coffee or a ...
Dining Reviews
Iconik is, well, an iconic coffee ... Iconik is, well, an iconic coffee shop with two convenient locations, both with full kitchens and different menus.
2
Tikka Hut’s mix of cuisines is unlike any other ...
Dining Reviews
There are no curries on the ... There are no curries on the menu, but the addictive spicy tomato sauce that underpins many of the dishes starts out that way before ...
3
Southern Indian food shines at Santa Fe's Paper Dosa
Dining Reviews
Paper Dosa is where vegetarians and ... Paper Dosa is where vegetarians and gluten-free eaters are in heaven.
4
La Reforma offers up Mexican street food classics like ...
Dining Reviews
La Reforma offers a slate of ... La Reforma offers a slate of brews with Mexican inflections and sells its own rum, vodka and agave spirits.
5
The Teahouse in Santa Fe delivers an eclectic menu ...
Dining Reviews
The Teahouse offers a 10-page menu ... The Teahouse offers a 10-page menu of more than 150 global teas and sensational scones.
6
Let them eat tortas!
Dining Reviews
Eatery dedicated to the Mexican sandwich ... Eatery dedicated to the Mexican sandwich a welcome addition
7
The Dragon Room Bar still a festive and delectable ...
Dining Reviews
The Dragon Room's happy hour begins ... The Dragon Room's happy hour begins when the doors open at 4 p.m. and continues until 7 p.m.
8
Blades' brings French bistro favorites to Placitas
Dining Reviews
Just 15 minutes from the Big ... Just 15 minutes from the Big I, Blades' Bistro offers a relaxing getaway with an intriguing, ambitious menu.
9
Take an elevated culinary trip to the Old West ...
Dining Reviews
When developing the Black Bird menu, ... When developing the Black Bird menu, Patrick and Kelly Torres researched what people ate in the 1880s and early 1900s.