That BBQ Joint

That BBQ Joint, Willy Street, Madison WI

There is something missing on the map below, aside from the complete deficiency of BBQ joints that appears to exists out west.

What’s missing?  That BBQ Joint! The one on Willy Street. It should be representing Wisconsin with a blue star for Madison.


I recently stopped in for lunch and got the BBQ surprise of my life! What a spot!  I walked in and surveyed the joint – two smallish dinning areas, one to the right and one to the left of the door and a total of, I’d say…, maybe 12 or 13 two-tops that can be joined for larger parties. There was a party of eight to the left as I walked in.

I stepped over to the menu on the wall and began perusing what was offered. As one would expect, there were the typical BBQ offerings: a half-slab of ribs, a rib basket and rib tips as well as half a chicken and wings. However, the place had an interesting a la carte menu. In addition to regular fries, sweet potato fries, hush puppies and onion rings this BBQ joint offered a single rib (called Adam’s Rib) for $2 and a single wing drummy (referred to as the Cowardly Appendage) for a buck. I thought that was an interesting touch.

Also on the a la carte menu were Mac n Cheese Balls, $2 each. I’ve never seen those before, but I might be out of the loop.

Being there for lunch, I turned my attention to the sandwich menu which featured, pulled pork, beef brisket, Italian beef brisket, smoked sausage grill, smoked corned beef and chicken salad. There is a vegetarian offering as well called Boca Mo Sloppy Jo. I’ll leave you to decide what that is, I’ll never order it.

Stepping up to place my order, I told the gentlemen behind the counter that I was looking at the pulled pork sandwich and asked if he had any recommendations. He said that the pork tacos were just added to the menu and that they were excellent and that the customers really like them. In fact, he said, he couldn’t stop eating them for lunch himself.

That BBQ Joint 1

“Well…, alrighty then. Pork tacos it is”, I said and ordered the creamy coleslaw and ranch beans to go with it. To drink? I ordered a Spotted Cow and as I did I began asking questions about the place, menu items and their move from down the street. This gentleman engaged me with such enthusiasm about the business, I figured him for the owner. But, it wasn’t the case. Joe, a struggling student, is a great ambassador for this BBQ joint.

As I grabbed some spicy BBQ sauce from the condiment counter and took a seat at one of the two-tops several more people came in and started placing their orders, so, my timing couldn’t have been better.  Sitting in the dining area you look out the very large plate glass window at the world passing by on Willy Street.  It was a bright February day, one that was giving us a reprieve from the cold.

My order didn’t take long to arrive.  Three tacos, nestled in a basket atop a checker-board liner  with individual cups containing my sides and salsa.  It looked great and then I noticed – the BBQ surprise I mentioned earlier.  Burnt ends!

Burnt Ends 3The pulled pork tacos were filled with a nice helping of pork that was more like burnt ends than shredded or pulled pork. If you’ve never had  burnt ends, you’re in for a treat – traditionally cut from beef brisket, these are meaty chunks of pork meat cut from the ends of the roast.  They’re crispy outside, moist and tender inside.  Topped with onion, cilantro and served with a light fresh salsa, I couldn’t wait to get a bite of these things going on in my mouth.

I always take a first bite or two just the way they’re served before I add any salsa or slather  anything with BBQ sauce.  I’m glad I did because these tacos can stand on their own – meaty, crispy, tender, moist, smoky, flavorful.  The corn tortillas are fresh, moist and tasty as well, not dry or oily as you can get elsewhere. I did go ahead and try a bite with just the salsa – slightly sweet and not too spicy.  Of course, I tried a bite or two with the tangy BBQ sauce from the counter as well. All three variations were great, but to me, less is more.  Like I said, these tacos are excellent just the way they come out of the kitchen.  Absolutely fantastic!

The sides I chose, the ranch beans and creamy coleslaw were very good as well in there supporting role, but the tacos were clearly the star of this show, as well they should be.

Finishing up, I noticed the people to the left of me were sharing a nice sized piece of pie.  I asked them what kind of pie it was and if it was good.  They said that it was sweet potato pie and that it was very good.  I knew right there that lunch wasn’t over.  That piece of sweet potato pie was the best I’ve had in a long, long time – maybe the best ever. If you’re a fan of sweet potato pie, don’t pass this up.  Diet on another day.

Well, I’m glad I stopped in at That BBQ Joint on Willy and I can’t wait to get back there again to try more of the food on that menu.  My only concern is that I won’t be able to get past those pulled pork tacos.  They were simply amazing.

That BBQ Joint
901 Williamson Street
Madison, WI
(608) 709-1300

CLOSED Monday & Tuesday
OPEN Wednesday – Saturday Noon-2:30, 3:30-8:00
OPEN Sunday 12:00-6:00


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