Barbecue is everywhere in Baltimore these days, from the food trucks to the stadiums to the suburbs. That's a good thing.

It's also in the bars — and at Blue Pit BBQ & Whiskey Bar in Hampden, smoky meats and southern side dishes make excellent bar food. Blue Pit, which opened as a bar with sandwiches in the spring of 2014, added barbecue to its lineup in September.


Barbecue aficionados are an opinionated bunch and may have a few quibbles with some of Blue Pit's preparations; it is a cuisine that inspires lot of debate. But overall, Blue Pit, and its friendly staff, do barbecue (and drinks) well.

Scene & Decor Blue Pit's space is simple but warm, with a low-key outdoor area in back. When we arrived on an early Wednesday evening, during the week of the curfew following the Freddie Gray riots, it was wall-to-wall packed; as it turns out, we walked into a happy hour hosted by local bloggers.

After about an hour, the crush calmed down but a decent crowd remained. Of those, many appeared to be regulars; the bartenders knew them by name. But the staff and even other patrons were friendly and welcoming to newcomers.

Service There are plenty of seating options at Blue Pit, but no traditional service at the tables; orders are placed at the bar or at a separate cash register.

At the register, we ordered food, paid and were given an order number. It was only after we placed our order, when the man behind us stepped up to the counter, that we realized we could've ordered beers at the same time.

Instead, we ordered drinks straight from the bar — at the busiest time of the night. As a result, we ended up with our food before our drinks were completely ready. The bartenders were working as quickly as they could, but the drinks required attention and the kitchen was quick.

Entrees Blue Pit's menu is brief and focused, including a few meat choices, one vegetarian option (pulled jackfruit) and a handful of sides.

A pulled chicken sandwich ($8) was overloaded with about twice as much meat as the bun could handle, but that was good problem to have. The meat itself was cut in chunks and moist, with satisfying smokiness.

We used the chicken as a base to try the five sauces on our table; our favorites were the spicy mustard, tart vinegar and "sweet and hot." A Zeke's Coffee-spiked sauce was a little sweeter than we usually like and the "smoke" sauce wasn't quite smoky enough.

For a two-meat platter ($15), we chose pulled pork and smoked bratwurst; the platter also came with pickles and cornbread plus two sides (Chesapeake pickleback slaw and collard greens for us).

The pork is cooked on a pit for 18 hours; during that time, it manages to retain an impressive amount of moisture. We wished it had been a little smokier, but that's our preference, not everyone's.

The bratwurst was an unqualified hit. The seasoning was terrific and the sausage was cooked nicely, with nice "snap" when we took each bite.

The slaw was bright and crunchy and a good match for the savory meats, the tart pickles were also likable, and the collards were super clean and well-seasoned. The cornbread, which was dry, was the only disappointment on the plate.

Dessert During our visit, no desserts were available, though occasionally, Blue Pit does carry small sweet treats, like brownies.


Drinks Instead of a traditional dessert, another round of drinks is a better way to end a Blue Pit meal. With dinner, Union Craft Brewing's Perfecta Pils ($7) was crisp and appropriate.

We also loved the Weldon Blue ($8), a take on the boulevardier cocktail, and Blue Pit's "mule of the day" ($8) — a sweet and spicy strawberry basil concoction.

At Blue Pit, both the drinks and the food are made with obvious care. Which makes them very easy to love.