Fake Pit Beef – Fake, But Still Pretty Good

205380548997 Fake Pit Beef - Fake, But Still Pretty Good

Chaps Charcoal Restaurant


5801 Pulaski Highway, Baltimore, Maryland 21205

Open Daily at 10:30 AM

As always, shitty cellphone pics means dead or forgotten camera – sorry in advance.

Like so many other foods, real pit beef is dying off right before our eyes. I happen to live within a few miles of Chaps on Pulaski highway, which I guess recently has attained a rep as the go-to pit beef spot round these parts. It’s pretty good but not really real. Two things should jump out at pit beef enthusiasts from the get go – there’s barely any char or crust on the meat, and it is way too tender (also a characteristic of the “pit” beef at Key Pit Stop, which I sorta reviewed for the Citypaper ‘08 Eat Guide). After peeking into the kitchen from across the counter, it’s immediately apparent that this place uses pre-prepared deli meat, instead of cooking from scratch. Now this may make some sense for pit ham, or perhaps even pit turkey, but for real pit beef, I need to have that deep, dark char and slightly chewy, bloody texture you get from medium-rare bottom round. Here’s my default order, the bulldog (pit beef, sausage, cheese), genius in concept if not execution:

 Fake Pit Beef - Fake, But Still Pretty Good

The ribs here are actually worse than I could have possibly expected. They’re completely untrimmed spareribs, so in a full order you actually only get 3 ribs, with lots of the coarser “outside” meat, fat and gristle attached. Very unattractive. Plus they are obviously boiled or baked, lacking any smoke flavor at all:

 Fake Pit Beef - Fake, But Still Pretty Good
…and then simply thrown on the grill briefly before getting doused with sauce that tastes like genereic supermarket or Sysco. Very bland and more akin to eating pork roast than ribs. DO NOT WANT! Note the total absence of a smoke ring:

 Fake Pit Beef - Fake, But Still Pretty Good

There used to be a place out in Dundalk on Wise Ave. I think, that used to have good pit beef, and then there’s Little Texas, also on Pulaski, but I haven’t tried it yet. Anybody out there have any suggestions?

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2 Responses to “Fake Pit Beef – Fake, But Still Pretty Good”

  1. I just went there today: they’re going to be featured June 30th 10pm on Food TV’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.” I found the meat not as flavorful as I am used to and the sides are dreadful: overcooked or underprepared. (The beans were mushy!) There used to be a place by Bayview (on Eastern) but they’ve changed to cater to the Latino community in the area.

  2. Hi tizinu – yeah I remember seeing the foodtv sign last time I went. I hope the show will confirm or disprove my theory about their using deli-style meat, instead of raw top round for instance. I agree their sides are unspeakably bad. I was on the radio today today talking BBQ, and the conversation predictably veered toward pit beef, sort of our local variant. Listeners called in with lots of good leads, which I will post soon.

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