Pinky’s Kitchen – BBQ in the U-District

Disclaimer: This is a guest post! My boyfriend who accompanies me on some of these food excursions lent me his phone to take pictures, so he decided he’d chip in and write an entry for me. He’s also getting into barbecue as a hobby, so this is a perfect choice for a guest entry!

Since I graduated from UW, Pinky’s showed up as a welcome guest in the U-district. Throughout my tenure at UW, I never found a reliable place to grab any good barbecue comfort foods nearby campus. There used to be a single BBQ restaurant way up the ave, but it was expensive for the U-district, and the food wasn’t as easy to share due to the style. Pinky’s is a perfect remedy for this, albeit a little far from campus. The food truck is up 45th ave right past I5 relative to the UW Seattle campus. (Ps. Pictures taken with an iPhone 4s)

Atmosphere:
One of the unique aspects of Pinky’s in comparison to most restaurants is that it is a food truck in/adjacent to a gas station parking lot (I assume this is for easy propane access). This poses a few logistical challenges when dining on a whim, and especially in Seattle’s unpredictable weather and seasons. When you roll into the parking lot, you’re greeted by a simple sign mounted on the back of a truck. Distinguishing features of Pinky’s is obviously the food truck itself, as well as a semi-open tent for “dine-in” (dine out?) guests.

The setup is simple and intuitive. Walk up to the window to order, and your food is brought out to your seat shortly. Pinky’s was not at all crowded when we went, I assume they call orders to pick-up when it’s busy.

The tent is a welcome feature when it comes to food trucks. Pinky’s supplies extra sauce on the table, as well as disposable cutlery and napkins. All the basics are covered, and the accommodations are clean. As far as “Atmosphere” goes, the servers and staff make all the difference. While it’s kind of impersonal to just be handed your food, the staff checked up on us and were very personable.

Menu:
As a big fan of BBQ, I had some mixed initial feelings about the menu offerings. However, as someone who isn’t a big fan of restaurants that do “too much,” with their menu, I quickly came to the conclusion that Pinky’s Kitchen made the right choice with keeping core items with proven recipes that will leave you satisfied every time. Pinky’s offers larger servings that are friendly for pickup to take to a party/event, as well as their signature sauces. The beverage selection is relatively modest, but I think all the choices offered are perfect for a BBQ spot. For dine in guests (or to go, for that matter), the main items are sliders and a fried chicken sandwich.

Sides offered are the staples: Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Slaw, Potato salad, etc. To put it simply, the menu is classic BBQ, and all the items we tried were done right, and there’s wiggle room to accommodate any particular palettes.

Items Selected:
When Mel and I go try a new restaurant, we tend to go a little overboard on what we order. We try to try as many items as possible in a sitting to get the best feel for the restaurant that we can on a single visit. Our visit to Pinky’s was no exception. We ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich, along with four different sliders, and a side of Mac. Not pictured is a side order of the corn bread. For some reason there was a small delay in the kitchen, and it came out separately.

This picture was taken at roughly the same time I realized we ordered too much.

Luckily, your fearless, favorite food blogger is dedicated to her craft, and was up for the challenge.

Before getting to the main courses, I have to compliment Pinky’s on their sides. Bare BBQ is great, but sides really make a big difference in the overall feel of the meal. The Mac ‘n’ Cheese was well balanced, and didn’t feel like an afterthought. The crust was nice, not overly hardened nor overdone, and the balance between mac and the cheese was appropriate. Surprisingly light, and a nice item to box up when you’re… uh… too full.

In my eyes, the sliders were really the focus of the meal. Pictured above is the sloppy joe on the left topped with American Cheese and the classic Pinky’s BBQ. On the right is the Spice Rubbed Chicken with Honey Tamarind sauce.

Our other pair of sliders includes the pulled pork on the left with the Sassy Molasses sauce, and the Beef Brisket with the Spicy sauce on the right.

Mel’s favorite item that we ordered was the Fried Chicken Sandwich. I didn’t expect this item to be godzilla sized when I ordered it. It’s easily a two person sandwich if you’re getting sliders. This should fill up a big guy pretty easily by itself.

Mel helping me illustrate exactly how big this thing is in real life.

Thoughts on the food:
Since Pinky’s wasn’t busy when we gave it a try, the food came out quickly, and everything was nice and warm when we gobbled it up.

  • Pulled Pork -The Sassy Molasses was absolutely wonderful. A dark, smoky sauce that’s got a bit of bite, but is smoothed out extremely well by the molasses. The Pulled Pork was tender and moist, not overly juicy. It paired extremely well with the thinner sauce style of Pinky’s. Smoke flavor was subdued, I think the emphasis is on the pork rather than the smoke. The sauce balances this out well.
  • Brisket – Brisket is a difficult cut of meat, but Pinky’s does it absolutely the right way. Plenty of moisture and incredibly soft, the melty texture of the meat paired extremely well with the heat of the Spicy BBQ sauce. Mel’s someone who tends to shy away from spicy foods, but this sauce was no problem. The heat is there, slightly tangy, but nothing too difficult.
  • Spiced Rubbed Chicken – We tried this item with the Honey Tamarind sauce. This was my least favorite of the sliders, but I can completely understand the direction that they were going with this meat/sauce combination. The Honey Tamarind sauce has an excellent balance of tangy and straight-up sweet, which balances very, very well with the Chicken. The only downside is that the sauce is a little gritty in its texture. A great combination, but the flavor was pretty intense, and felt a little skewed to the sweet side, which masked the spice of the Chicken.
  • Sloppy Joe – Classic item! The cheese really smoothed out the flavor of this slider. The sauce was surprisingly low-impact (in food-coma terms). The sandwich wasn’t overly greasy or heavy, but had a lot of spice and sweet in the nose.
  • Corn Bread – I’m a much bigger fan of corn bread than Mel is, but the best part about this side was the honey butter that was served with it. The corn bread was moist and held together very well. Slightly sweet treat that is great for a side with a spicier item. I ended up taking most of it to go — it heats up really well for a leftover treat.
  • Mac ‘n’ Cheese – As mentioned above, balance was excellent, crust was done perfectly, and the Mac wasn’t at all heavy.
  • Fried Chicken Sandwich – By the time I got around to this item, I was pretty stuffed. I’d like to try this sandwich again on an empty stomach with a clear palette, but I recall the texture was excellent and the serving of chicken was generous. The feel of the sandwich was very different than the sliders, and I attribute this to the presence of some green stuff. The sauce was creamy with a very distinct kick in the pants that lingered after you manage to get the bite down below. I’d compare it to a slightly spicy thousand island. Note by Mel: My favorite!!!

Other Note: I’d strongly consider adding coleslaw as a topping to any sweeter slider next time I went, or just getting it as a side.

Pricing:
Quite frankly, the price of all the items we tried were very reasonable. Grabbing a ton of sliders to go can really add up, but compared to the work, time, and effort that goes into a true BBQ cook, this meal was a steal! The fried chicken sandwich is already very reasonable at the $7.50 pricepoint, but the serving size is enormous! You can grab a burger at dicks and get a similarly full stomach, but I have no qualms recommending Pinky’s as a cheap bite to eat.

Service:
The service was as good as you could expect from a food truck. Traffic was low when we stopped in, and we had a chance to chat with the cashier. She recommended us sauce combinations, and I think she was spot on in all cases, even the honey tamarind. I didn’t personally like that one as much, but it made perfect sense with the meat choice. Food was brought out to our table, and the corn bread was out immediately after we brought up the delay. Good awareness about the condition of the tent, and we were checked up on at least once. Recommended!

Overall:
To summarize this already overly long entry, Pinky’s is a great place to visit on a warm evening with some buddies. Their menu isn’t mindblowingly broad, but ALL items that are on the menu are done the right way. Even for tough cuts of meat, everything is tender and has plenty of moisture. Sauces are all well put together, and each has its own personality and flair. Sides don’t feel like an afterthought, and I felt a lot of love through the food. I’d gladly recommend Pinky’s as a comfort food spot!

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