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Early Saturday afternoon, March 27, 2010 found me driving east on Oregon 126 in the small town of Veneta, just a few miles west of Eugene.  I'd spent the morning on the coast in Florence, visiting a fellow amateur radio enthusiast and helping him remove a radio antenna that I'd purchased from him.  I was heading back to Eugene in no particular hurry when I spotted what I thought in Oregon was the unthinkable:  A roadside barbecue stand with lots of fragrant smoke pouring out of a genuine vertical smoker pit!  Holy smokes!  Was I really in Oregon?  There wasn't a chance of a snowball where it melts the fastest that I was going to pass this one by, so I did a 180 degree turn, and pulled my truck into the parking lot of Tony's Bar-B-Que.

Photo:  Here's a view of Tony's Bar-B-Que, as viewed from Oregon State Highway 36.  Check out the smoke coming from the pit.

You won't find a many roadside barbecue joints in the State of Oregon, and you won't find many like Tony's in Oregon, or for that matter, even in Texas.  Tony's Bar-B-Que is housed in a now-stationary panel van that once plied the Oregon highways and byways as a Snapper Tool van.  The van serves as the kitchen, prep-room, storage closet and office, but the real attraction is the Texas-style horizontal pit smoker, located in a shed just outside the van.  It's a small operation, as the only seating is one picnic table, but as I was later to find out, the majority of their business is carry out and catering.

I parked my truck and walked up to the window, but couldn't see or hear anybody.  I started poking around, and was greeted by a cheery female voice that said, "I'm Susan, what would you like to order?"  She was a little hard to see, but now that she had my attention, I could turn my attention the menu posted on the side of the restaurant... err... van.  The menu features a vast assortment of barbecue, including sandwiches, dinners and combination plates.  Tony's has it all, including pulled pork, both regular and spicy, tri tip, chicken, hot links, meatballs, pastrami, country ribs, screamin' philly, flamin' barbecue wings and smoked brisket.  If you order a dinner, you can choose from sides such as barbecue beans, candied yams, cole slaw, collard greens or potato salad.  Collard greens in Oregon?  Holy south!  What don't they have?  And it's all cooked in the smoker next door...  With a gulp, I ordered a regular pulled pork sandwich, to go.

Photo:  You order your barbecue from the window on the side of the van.  The pit is in the foreground, and Tony fabricates and sells identical barbecue pits.

My sandwich was ready in just a couple of minutes, but I had a ton of questions to ask Susan, as barbecue, and barbecue joints in particular, really intrigue me.  First, I asked her to show me the pit, so she went over, opened up and showed me the oak logs burning, and then opened up one of the drawers where they put the meat to smoke. She told me that Tony, the owner, built the pit, and he builds pits for sale, as one of his endeavours.  She said that he's been in business for 10 years, and the restaurant has been in its current location for two years.  They use oak wood, which is readily available in Oregon, as there are oak trees everywhere.  (I use oak at home, as oak trees grow everywhere in the Sacramento Valley and the foothills)  When I asked her how long the meat is smoked, she said about 14 hours, as Tony fires up the pit after the restaurant closes in the early evening, loads in the meat, and lets it smoke all night until it's ready when the place opens at 11:00 in the morning.  All meat is cooked in the pit, as the stove is used only for the side dishes that require cooking. In addition to the restaurant and his pit building, Tony's also caters to parties and other events, and also sells bottles of his self-proclaimed famous barbecue sauce. Tony's Bar-B-Que is quite a unique operation!

Photo:  Susan opened the firebox door upon my request and showed me the glowing oak logs, that produce the delicious, smoky flavor and aroma.  She was a little shy of my camera, and flinched when I took the photo.

Later that evening, I was treated to a delicious pulled pork sandwich.  The meat was deliciously smoked, and chopped, mixed with Tony's barbecue sauce, and sandwiched between a soft, round roll.  It looked delicious, smelled smoky, and tasted like the sort of pulled pork sandwich that you'd expect to find at a roadside barbecue in western North Carolina.  Actually, the only difference between Tony's and authentic Carolina-style barbecue is that Tony uses oak instead of hickory for smoking, as hickory just doesn't grow in Oregon.  But when you're in Oregon, do as the Oregonians so and use oak - it implants a delicious, smoky taste in your barbecue, and the end product is Oregon-delicious.

Photo:  Pulled pork and delicioius barbecue sauce, meet a fresh roll in Tony's pulled pork sandwich.  It was a slice of Carolina-style barbecue heaven!

I'm glad I noticed Tony's Bar-B-Que, and I'm even happier that I stopped by and sampled his fine cuisine.  My only regret is that I didn't purchase another sandwich, or a bottle of his barbecue sauce.  I guess that will give me an excuse to visit Eugene in the future.  Tony's produces delicious barbecue!

Tony's Bar-B-Que
Hwy. 126 and Houston St.
Veneta, OR 97487
541 935-9367

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