The Mission to Please: My Mission BBQ Experience
As a southerner the word barbeque is a phrase that can be associated with other words like air, water, and survival. Born in and raised in Oklahoma and having Alabama, Georgia, and Florida roots BBQ’s are a daily occurrence at home. Some much so that I did not realize that everywhere in the country did not do the same. I cut my teeth barbecuing spending my summers in Tampa Florida working at my family’s BBQ pit Big John’s Alabama BBQ founded in the 1960’s by my grandfather Reverend John Stephens. Often rated the best BBQ in the city (and the country) it was always busy with Tampa’s elite (Athletes, Politicians, and prominent business owners). Once I learned when to flip, when to sauce, how to season, and most importantly how not to watch the meat, I became a novice on the grill (not as good as my Brother, and cousins but still respectable).
Fast forward to 2004 I have arrived in Baltimore from Tulsa and i’m looking for two things,soul food and bbq. I was able to go to Baltimore’s famed Lexington Market to get my soul food fix, but I could never quench my BBQ thirst here in Maryland. I tried pit beef, but I simply did not like it, so I pretty just got used to notion that if I wanted good BBQ i’m going to have to cook it myself. That’s exactly what I did for about 10 years. Until I stumbled on a place called Mission BBQ about two years ago, it was an oasis in an otherwise BBQ desert. I normally drove past most BBQ spots in Baltimore but I noticed one thing that made me stop, I smelled wood!!! The familiar smell of my youth from my days in Tampa and Tulsa at BBQ shacks all across the south! Anybody that knows me knows that I despise charcoal, it gives no flavor to the meat and cooks down too fast. Sure if you’re making hotdogs and burgers fine, but if you making anything of quality for an adult pallet wood has to be involved.
I slowed down my car and turned into the parking lot, found a spot, parked the car and started my deliberation process. I started working through all the scenarios in my head and most importantly would this taste good? I stopped thinking and just got out the car and went inside. I walked in and was welcomed immediately with a smile from a young hostess at the front counter. I immediately noticed the hometown feel of Mission (though it’s a chain that is fastly growing up and down the east coast) seeing local high school football jerseys on the wall along the local fire, police, and military service regalia place through the restaurant. I was greeted by a gentleman named Josh (who I would later find out that he one of the owners of the restaurant) at the counter after I placed my order for what is now my usual, a three meat platter of sausage, pulled pork, and brisket macaroni and cheese, and green beans with smoked bacon. We struck a conversation about BBQ and how I had lived in Maryland for almost ten years and I had not found any satisfactory bbq. He replied that my search was over and told me to make sure to let him know how it tasted.
I got the food to go and went back home, once I got settled at my kitchen table, I opened up the box and was pleased by the display. Nice sized portions of quality meats and greatly smelling size dishes. I also had over six different sauces to choose from, sauces that took different aspects of every region in bbq culture. I placed some brisket on my fork and dipped in the Texas-based sauce (beef is prominent in southwest and the lower midwest) took a bite and smiled. I had found my Maryland BBQ placed and all was right in the world!!!
It was cooked superbly with a good favor and with a choice of over six sauces I was in hog heaven!!! Though the food was good the service keep me satisfied, everybody has a smile on their face, along with great waitresses and staff that are prompt and sincere with their service.
Mission is truly All American BBQ their support of the armed forces is unparalleled from their donations to the Wounded Warrior Project, to their support of the local military and law enforcement, to the playing of our national anthem every day at noon Mission proudly does it part to support our country. Lastly I would like to say thanks to my BBQ Brother Josh for always providing supreme service, going the extra mile without being asked, and being a great ambassador from Mission to the world. With locations in the Pennsylvania , North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and here in Maryland they are growing by leaps and bounds. I will try them all but the Nottingham location will always be home.