Mansfield News Journal
Made to Order | Smokin' Bros BBQ on a roll
Seth Weibel, News Journal columnist
Not every food establishment comes with a front door. I'm talking about Smokin' Bros BBQ, usually located next to Empress Express at 1041 Park Avenue West in Mansfield.
Chef Andrea and I ventured out in this very cold weather to their trailer to sample everything we could. With more than 12 hours of "slow and low" cooking, the amply rubbed and smoked brisket, shoulder and baby back ribs produced an aroma as we drove up. We saw several people driving their cars fairly close, getting their pick up orders to go to feed hungry families.
Our first contact was with Dan Coy by phone, but while he has a thrown-out back, his wife Denise is serving as a great pinch-hitter. The "D-coys" as the two are often called, huddle in the warmth of the trailer, but bundle up while preparing their award-winning barbecue, chosen as Mid-Ohio's best by our readers. The word-of-mouth from the loyal locals is catching on as they are hired out at special events and weddings. Drew Coy, their son, is one of the two brothers of the business' name. He serves as pitmaster.
You will not find a four-page menu with every imaginable appetizer, entrée or dessert. Instead, they offer a straight-forward menu featuring pulled pork, beef brisket and baby back ribs as the headliners, while the supporting sides are coleslaw, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, six sauces and one dessert.
I always heard that great things come in small packages, and a menu done right with each component creates a winning eatery. This one has wheels, but nonetheless, everything is done right.
Cherry wood is used in most of their smoking, and their traditional sauce has 17 ingredients that make it complex and savory. Although they serve chicken only by special request, I'm confident Colonel Sanders would have cherished those extra six herbs and spices.
Several locals had great things to say about Smokin' Bros BBQ. Susan said, "Hands down, the best brisket sandwich I've ever had, and I'm from Virginia!" William said, "I don't know what I found more delicious, the barbecue or the family that served it."
Currently, my students are planning a big barbecue banquet where I plan on sampling several establishments to see what's out there. As far as Mansfield, I don't know that there are many unless you venture towards Shelby, Ashland or Bellville. The trailer is primarily parked at the Empress Express site, but you'll also find them at Rock'N'Ribs, Heritage Days at Malabar Farm, Mansfield Art Explosion, or one of many fundraisers around the area.
We started with the pulled pork as a part of the meat trio with the traditional sauce. It's a thick, rich sauce that tasted scrumptious with the tender pieces of pork. The jalapeno sauce is more of a verde sauce, where they cook the sauce in the smoker. We found ourselves dipping in regular sauce, then a dip in the jalapeno to enjoy both together. A new beer-mustard barbecue sauce had our taste buds tantalized as we immersed more smoked pulled pork.
Their mac-n-cheese is homemade and oh-so creamy and thick. It was seasoned well and led us to our next meat, beef brisket. Its Andrea's favorite and this time we utilized the Carolina vinegar, which is thin and tangy. The past couple of years have had us visit both Carolinas, but this sauce was our favorite. When we put a little of the brisket on a bun, the sauce flavored it and soaked into the bun for an extra treat. The baked beans truly were very hearty and laden with plenty of pork pieces and sauce throughout.
It was onto the ribs, which were incredible. Sometimes tender ribs don't always translate into great flavor, but no problems here. They were very meaty and whatever fat was atop, was permeated into the meat during the smoking process. The coleslaw was refreshing, sweet and right on track to keep good company of the entrées.
They also carry a new barbecue cup with beans on the bottom, then meat, sauce and slaw on top. It's a great hand-held on the go, representing the tradition of Smokin' Bros BBQ. Lastly, we had a sampling of their homemade banana pudding, which was filled with wafer cookies, fresh bananas, whipped cream and cinnamon. It was a great finish to our night out to this tempting little trailer.
Could Mansfield support a full-blown version of this small-scale version of delicious? Absolutely.
Check out Smokin' Bros BBQ 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. You can contact them at 855-800-8820, find them at #SmokinBrosBBQ on Twitter, or even on Facebook.