Patrons at Bywater BBQ tend toward residents of the neighborhood and the adjoining Marigny, but the relaxed, bohemian atmosphere makes everyone feel at home. Tables are crammed close together inside, but the outdoor patio is where you want to dine as long as you can brave the heat. A trip to the unisex bathroom includes a chronological exhibit of former display signs. I just thought that was a clever and functional way to recycle.
While the menu runs the gamut from pizza to fried seafood and everything in between, this particular trip was official Blackened Out BBQ Business. So we ordered the 4 meat platter, which for $18.95 allowed us to sample each carnivorous choice on the menu, along with our choice of 2 sides and a couple of pieces of jalapeno cornbread. Plenty enough to split between 2 people.
The brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and chicken may all have been cooked “low and slow,” but the meats had no discernible smoke flavor. I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me that the kitchen uses an oven-to-grill method. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just not “real” barbeque. Ribs, pulled pork, and brisket were all tender, but the chicken was a little dry. All were served blanketed with the house special BBQ sauce, which is an almost identical replication of Bud’s Broiler’s hickory smoked sauce. I love it on my #4, and it did a nice job on the meats here. Sides are average: baked macaroni is a cheesy blend; potato salad has a nice chunky/creamy texture but not much flavor; and cole slaw has a sweet, mayo-based dressing. Best part of the meal: jalapeno cornbread with its light, crumby texture and vinegar-laced heat.
True BBQ? No. Terrible meal? Not exactly. Still craving top notch smoked meats? Absolutely.