Restaurant Review: Durk’s Bar-B-Q

: David Hayes, Herald Contributor

No one would have guessed that a good BBQ joint could be found in New England of all places, let alone Providence, Rhode Island. To our surprise, however, we have found a gem of Providence that is filled with an interesting ambiance and incredible food. This gem is Durk’s Bar-B-Q.

Located on Thayer Street on College Hill in Providence, Durk’s Bar-B-Q plays into the hands of those that believe Bar-B-Q has become something of a cliché in the culinary world. From the staff with large, unkempt beards and equally large tattoos, to the classic rock playing over the loudspeaker, Durk’s may be as cliché as Bar-B-Q can get. 

Though Bar-B-Q has strayed from its humble roots on the Texas ranch, the Smokey Mountains of the Carolinas, and the plains of Kansas City, it has found a  new home on the streets of Providence, and it is impossible to say that it has lost any of its charm. Durk’s is a prime example of the “yankees” doing right by something that is distinctly southern. They take a bit of that uniquely southern charm that Bar-B-Q is synonymous with and put it into a menu full of rich flavors; from the sweet and tangy sauces to the saltiest, crunchiest fried-chicken sandwich, and everything else in between.

 After two experiences, we have found it best to order a mix of everything on the menu and split it between four or five good friends. The menu offers a wide variety of Bar-B-Q classics such as pulled-pork, brisket, pork ribs, and smoked sausage. Complimentary to the array of smoked meats are the side dishes, which include a sweet and moist cornbread and a fresh and crisp ‘slaw.’ A personal favorite, Durk’s Fried Chicken Sandwich, stands out for its wonderful combination of sour, salty, and savory flavors. Let it be noted that everything on the menu is prepped and smoked in house, which is quite a magnificent accomplishment when you see the space they have to work with. Wood for their smokers is stacked to the ceiling and one can’t help but wonder what they would be capable of if they were freed from the confines of their Providence storefront. The space does, however, work in favor of creating an ambiance of an intimate neighborhood Bar-B-Q pit. 

The bar is another incredible sight, it’s rear wall is stacked to the ceiling with almost every type of Whiskey, Scotch, and Bourbon one could ask for. The selection is so large it almost comes off as boastful, not that anyone is complaining. Durk’s also offers a wide selection of draft beers, plenty of incentive to keep the lively crowds around that gather on Friday evenings when the place is its busiest. It may be a small joint, but the food is good, music’s playing, and everyone has a smile on their face.

Upon finishing the feast on your tray, you feel not bloated, but FULL. The “stick to you ribs” factor Durk’s has to offer is unmatched by any other spot in the region. Their food leaves you in a coma of dopamine and as warm as a blanket; comfort food at its finest. Yes, Durk’s is somewhat of a cliché, but with its good food, impressive drink selection, and inviting ambiance, Durk’s would win a high recommendation from anyone who enjoys Bar-B-Q or is simply looking to experience something different from what Rhode Island usually has to offer, and is well deserving of the praise it receives. To conclude; bring friends, bring an appetite, and if you aren’t sure what to order, just get one (or maybe two) of everything.