Let me preface this review by saying that almost ALL BBQ is good. In all the years I have eaten BBQ (which as been almost all my life), maybe only 2 times was the BBQ bad…very bad, and one of those was a BBQ joint in Kentucky, the other was in Alabama. All other BBQ ranges from good to mouthwatering EXCELLENT. In Searcy, there is no BAD BBQ…I’ll say that up front, but some are better than others and in one case, MUCH better than everyone else here.
Let me start off with a brief history of my BBQ taste buds and my obligation to pay HOMAGE to who I consider the BBQ king of chopped BBQ pork sandwiches…Ronnie Penn of Penn’s BBQ. Ronnie had a stand in Blytheville for over 40 years, and I ate his BBQ for over 40 years. He closed in the early fall of 2016 and unfortunately passed away earlier this year. THE MAN KNEW how to COOK and SERVE a BBQ sandwich…and fortunately (or unfortunately), I measured all other sandwiches against his BBQ. I can no longer do that since he is gone…which is also a good thing for any future BBQ reviews I do being as how they’ll be judged against each other, rather than against Penn’s. Thank You Ronnie Penn and Penn’s BBQ.
OK…on to my review of Mac’s BBQ in Searcy.
As best I can tell, Searcy has no less than 9 BBQ joints/stands. Some of these are chains, some are locally owned…and some are better than the others. And of a “traditional” BBQ meal (sandwich, baked beans, slaw, and potato salad), one item on their menu may be better or worse than others and sometimes all of their sides are either good or bad. Rarely does a BBQ joint “hit on all cylinders” and get everything right, but it does happen occasionally. I’ll tell you how Mac’s stacked up in a moment.
Mac’s is a new BBQ stand in west Searcy (barely outside the city limits) across from Valley Baptist Church. Mac’s offers to go, catering and dining in for their services, and they’re open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11a-7p. They offer the normal BBQ food one normally sees in a small place like this such as sandwiches, ribs, potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans and even a grill cheese sandwich. You can get ala carte, but they also have rib plates and pork plates. I also noticed they offered brisket and was told I would have to try their BBQ Nachos sometime. For dessert, they have cinnamon rolls.
I arrived right after they opened and was greeted warmly by young girl and a big smile. Mac was working in the kitchen area and he eventually came out and also greeted me. As you can tell…I’m big on customer service! The establishment was clean and well organized…a very comfortable setting. I ordered a pork sandwich with baked beans and potato salad with just a water to drink. The meal was reasonably priced at about $10 and I was pleased with the size of the portions on my plate when it arrived.
I’ll start with the two sides first…The baked beans were nothing special, however that doesn’t mean they didn’t taste good. They had just the right amount of sweetness and a slight BBQ flavor. I have had better baked beans, but I have had a LOT worse. I would say these are better than average, just don’t expect fireworks to go off…but all in all, I’d order them every time I order a plate dinner. The potato salad was also a very basic recipe and again nothing special about them (ie…bacon bits, sweet pickle or nothing like), BUT the taste was a creamy with a hint of mustard flavor. The potato salad had the “taters” properly cooked and were neither too mushy or crisp. And while I stated it was a basic recipe, I found the taste VERY pleasing! In fact, I was impressed, and this was some of the best normal potato salad I have eaten in a long time (the way potato salad SHOULD taste…like Mom’s).
OK…now the main purpose of this review. The BBQ! I’ll speak to the sandwich as a whole first. It was better than any sandwich I have ever gotten in Searcy. PERIOD. The BBQ pork meat was the SMOKIEST and BEST tasting meat I have tasted in a LONG time…it rivals, and even exceeds some of that from Blytheville which I consider the GOLD STANDARD for chopped/pulled pork. The smoke flavor is more pronounced than ANY OTHER BBQ MEAT that I have tasted before, but not in an overpowering way…it TRULY FLAVORS the meat! According to Mac, he attributes that great smokey flavor on his choice of wood to smoke with…he prefers pecan. On top of the meat was his signature slaw…a yellow slaw, but did not have a mustard taste…very good stuff too. I normally like PLAIN slightly dryer slaw, but Mac’s was pretty good and added to the flavor profile of the sandwich. His sauce is (at least to me) a hybrid ketchup/vinegar based sauce with a very nice consistency that would stick to the meat, but not make the bun soggy.
In case you missed it…Mac’s BBQ Pork is smoked JUST RIGHT, cooked JUST RIGHT and seasoned perfectly. Good stuff. REALLY GOOD STUFF.
Finally just a couple of notes to say about the business in general. This “storefront” has had several businesses in it before and all of them have folded. It’s really a great building for a small establishment like and I really hope Mac makes it here. Sometimes it’s all about location, Location, LOCATION, so it will require most to make a trip out to the west side of town. If you want GOOD BBQ, then coming to west Searcy is definitely worth the trip. I hate to see any BBQ place go out of business, but this will be the ONLY one I’ll be eating at in Searcy from now on. MAKE THE EFFORT TO CHECK MAC’S BBQ OUT.
After my meal, I had the opportunity to speak with Mac. I told him I would be doing a short review on his BBQ. I also told him that as good as it was (and it was EXCELLENT)…being a new business there are always things they might try differently once the business is on steady footing. I told him these were NOT criticisms, but instead MY OWN PERSONAL tastes (no pun intended) and personal tastes that family and friends also found important at BBQ places they liked. Mine are brief here since this place was so good.
- TOAST THAT BUN – Doggone it, whether it be a BBQ, Burger, or Hoagie Sandwich TOAST IT! By toasting the bread, you offer a couple of different things. The bread continues to insulate the meat in the sandwich, it acts as a better barrier against a soggy bun and finally, it adds texture man….TEXTURE. All those things make for a better BBQ experience.
- OFFER AT LEAST 2 SAUCES – Your sauce was very good. But it was a mild sauce. Offer a spicier sauce and possibly even a HOT sauce (which could be kept behind the counter unless asked for.
- PREPARE THE SANDWICH – Prepare the sandwich completely before serving. Add the slaw (if ordered with slaw on it), and sauce on the meat when served.
- WRAP THE SANDWICH IN BBQ TISSUE – Nothing says OLD STYLE BBQ like getting your sandwich wrapped in paper…even if you dine in…WRAP THAT THANG.
Thank you Mac. GREAT START and I’m looking forward to trying all your products (between eating the sandwiches).
I am not affiliated with Mac’s BBQ in anyway. I was not compensated in anyway by Mac’s BBQ for this review. All comments and suggestions are my opinions only.