In a little nondescript shopping center in Elkton, Maryland, the Philippine Smoked BBQ and Grill has found a new home after moving from its original location in Wilmington, Delaware. The big Wawa next door probably draws the crowd, and it was hard to tell if the place that supposedly sells the best barbecue in Delaware according to Travel Channel’s 50 States of BBQ was even open for business. The parking lot at 5:30 in the afternoon was pretty much empty, and the storefront was dark. If it weren’t for the red neon-like OPEN sign on the front, one may just turn around and leave.
Upon entry, the place has seating in the front to the left, a cooler fridge to the right with some baked goodies, and the cashier and the kitchen taking up the majority of the space. The lot behind the restaurant is where the real magic happens.
The Roasted Pig
It may not be much to look at, but this would be where the action takes place–roasting whole pigs till the skin is crispy and the flavor has seeped into the meat. The roast pig is made to order. Filipinos from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and around Maryland travel to this little hole-in-the-wall off the I-95 highway to pick up their lechon—the main attraction in any Filipino gathering. If you can’t fly all the way to Manila, or to Guavate in Puerto Rico, this is the next best thing to getting your lechon fix.
Travel Channel was drawn to its brisket and it IS a must-try. The smoky flavor of the meat dabbed with the mildly sweet in-house barbecue sauce combined to make the right combination of flavors that tickled the taste buds. It was moist and tender, and the more you chewed, the meat just seemed to melt in your mouth.
Rib meat just falling off the bones, drizzled with your choice of mild to extra hot sauce, and, again, that distinct smoky taste takes these pork ribs up a notch. Can’t go wrong with slaw or fries on the side, but the undoubted star of the dish is the meat.
There are a variety of side options to choose from. It runs the gamut of sweet potato fries to steamed buns (siopao) and the Philly cheesesteak egg rolls to the Filipino staple of garlic rice. Pick a favorite and stick with it or roll the dice each time you order their lunch combo.
As you partake of your meal, you may be entertained by one-hit wonders that may take you back in time. David Soul begs, “Don’t Give Up On Us” and Dan Hill reminisces in “Sometimes When We Touch”. Though these songs may be wholly unknown to many here in the States, Filipinos perk up to these familiar tunes that would be played on Manila radio stations.
So whether you have a big celebration or just heading to the beaches of Delaware, this “pit” stop may be worth your while. There is something for everyone on the menu–whether it’s the pork belly, the egg rolls, the chicken skewers, the ribs… or you just want to sing along to songs from another era, Philippine Smoked BBQ and Grill is worth the stop.