Muddy River Smokehouse (CLOSED - now Portside Seafoods)
21 Congress Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Unsurprisingly, New England is not known for its barbecue joints. Even the best BBQ spots in the Boston area, such as Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington and Newton, and Redbones BBQ in Somerville, do not really compete with the outstanding barbecue joints in the southern states. But Blue Ribbon, Redbones, the Pit Stop BBQ in Mattapan, and Firefly's in Framingham ARE excellent places for ribs, pulled pork, and the like. And add to this list another great barbecue joint, this one a little ways north of Boston: The Muddy River Smokehouse in funky Portsmouth, NH.
The Muddy River Smokehouse, located in the center of Portsmouth, has a simple, unimposing storefront, but once inside, it's a different story; the atmosphere bears a faint resemblance to The Rainforest Cafe, with its lush (most likely plastic) trees, its star-filled ceiling, and dark, moody feel. But while The Rainforest Cafe is more of a theme park with food, the Muddy River Smokehouse is a place for serious foodies; some of the mouth-watering dishes include the incredible muddy pie (pulled pork smothered in hickory-smoked barbecue sauce, and mixed with mashed potatoes, corn, and jack cheese) and the extremely lean, and extremely tasty, beef brisket sandwich, which dare I say includes brisket that may actually surpass that at the Blue Ribbon BBQ. Other entrees include ribs, hickory-smoked chicken, BBQ meatloaf, and a variety of burgers, including buffalo burger.
Aside from the terrific atmosphere and food, the staff at the Muddy River Smokehouse goes out of its way to treat its customers well, from the host to the waitstaff. And Portsmouth, being the slightly odd, but very friendly city that it is, seems to be the perfect place for a quirky, friendly BBQ joint. My only complaint is, well, it's a bit far away from those of us who reside in Boston. But this writer knows that any road trip to Portsmouth or the Maine coast will likely include a stop at the fantastic Muddy River Roadhouse.
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