Barbecue is Smoking in New Hampshire

Portsmouth’s Muddy River Smokehouse (430-9582, keeps winning awards for barbecue, whether it be from this magazine or TV’s Phantom Gourmet. Pulled pork is the most popular item at the Congress Street restaurant and is slow cooked for about 15 hours.

“The long smoking process and the house barbecue sauce really make a difference,” says owner Dan Posternak.

Most of the meats spend anywhere from four to 12 hours in the smoker before being moved to the grill. Posternak plans to introduce a new “health conscious” kid’s menu this month.

Open since December, Goody’s Cole’s Smokehouse (773-5657, on Exeter’s Lincoln Street is big on Texas and Memphis dry rubs. With a down-home décor, complete with license plates and photos on the walls and paper plates and plastic silverware, owner Dan Lenihan encourages customers to try sauces on the side, using them for dipping. Ribs, brisket and pulled pork are the signature items with the brisket cooked for about 16 hours.

As a student in Texas, Lenihan met his wife, a Texan, and was introduced to the world of barbecue. “Barbecue is a niche food group,” he says. “It’s amazing how far people will travel for it.”

For 10 years, Rick Brickman’s been serving up his southern-style hickory pit barbecue at Down N’ Dirty (624-2224) on Manchester’s Amory Street. Don’t call it a restaurant; it’s a joint with about 20 seats and only open Thursday through Sunday. The 68-year-old Brickman learned his craft starting at age 8 in southern Florida.

He uses a homemade dry rub on his beef, ribs and pork, let’s them smoke for hours and “mops” them on the grill with sauce.

Ribs are the number one barbecue item, while the most popular side dish is collard greens at the award-winning joint.
“I’m here all the time,” says Brickman.

KC’s Rib Shack (627-7427, on Second Street in the Queen City has a small menu, says owner Kevin Cornish, but that’s because they want to do things right. Pulled pork, ribs, chicken and sausage are the featured items in the prize-winning restaurant. “People ask me all the time if I’m from the South,” Cornish says. “I tell them, yeah, south Manchester.”

Cornish got turned on to barbecue as a hobby 20 years ago. The sauce is served on the side so the meat’s flavor can shine.
South Willow Street is the site of a new venture, the Santa Fe Smokehouse (634-0002, created by Bob Condon. “It’s going to be a fusion between barbecue and southwest in a fast, casual atmosphere,” said Condon.

Located next to Shaw’s, look for a June opening, and sandwiches like the Smoky Cowboy and Shotgun Willie.

On hot summer nights, the line’s out the door of the Yankee Smokehouse (539-7427, in West Ossipee at the corner of Routes 16 and 25. From families to motorcyclists, they head for the open pit.

“The open pit is a very big draw,” says owner Joe Ferreira. “They see us do the smoking.”

Smokehouse and baby back ribs plus chicken are the top menu items, which also features smoked turkey and prime rib. Those really hungry, grab the Smokehouse Feast for four to six people that has chicken, ribs, beef, pork and a bunch of sides.

Moat Mountain Smokehouse and Brewing Company (356-6381, in North Conway serves up homespun barbecue and beer. They like to do region-specific barbecue. The rubs are West Tennessee style, dry-rubbed and smoked. For the beef brisket, they do it Texas-style, smoking the meat for 14 hours with pecan wood.

“We like to use different woods for everything,” says owner Steve Johnson. “That’s a result of traveling and checking out what different regions do.” The Austin sauce is a spicy mustard/habanero pepper blend, while the KC sauce has a tangy tomato base. They even put barbecue on nachos and pizza.

Whether you eat at a New Hampshire barbecue joint or restaurant, just be prepared to use a lot of napkins. NH