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I’ve never had a reason to visit Cincinnati, OH before being brought there by Blacktech Week, the dynamic conference formerly owned by my friends and colleagues Felecia Hatcher and Derick Pearson. Once my team and I touched down, we made it our mission to find the city’s best Black-owned restaurants. Thankfully, we discovered a few gems, but one that stood out to not just me, but our entire team was Just Q’in BBQ located at 975 E McMillan St, Cincinnati, OH 45206.
This is a space with food so good you end up planning your week around their ultra-smokey pastrami or their tender slabs of long-smoked brisket. This is an epicurean’s BBQ space with the quality proteins, dynamic sides on sheets of butcher paper with house made sauces on the side, as it should be.
The smoke and quality meat speak for itself. I honestly didn’t use the sauce because the flavor was just too perfect to disrupt. I packed it up, froze everything in my hotel room, and ate it when I got back to Miami, which had me shedding tears as I considered booking a $400 flight back to Cincy.
The spot is located in an unassuming quaint space that was ultra clean, bright, and staffed with one of the nicest teams I’ve encountered in our travels. The Pitmaster is an BBQ academic with a deep respect for his customers and the craft of BBQ. His meat is all sourced from sustainable farms, their locations proudly displayed on his website.
I started with the magnificent St. Louis style ribs and rib tips smoked to perfection and frosted with an intelligent rub scented with smoke and brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic and salt? The flavor will have your palate guessing until it succumbs to the rib’s will as it takes absolute control of your senses and the tender meat dissolves on your tongue like meaty ice cream.
The brisket comes right behind with yet another slam dunk, cooked to a celestial tenderness with a dense flavor almost giving me a quality steak vibes. The natural juices from the meat were in every bite lending even more flavor with a thin layer of fat that reminded me of a delicious ribeye. This tasty brisket overloaded my taste buds, mimicking other amazing beef experiences.
As a food critic, I deeply appreciated the clean burn resulting from the wood used in the cooking process. We ordered virtually all the sides and they were all straight bangers! The gooey mac and cheese were seasoned well with a nice silky texture and a perfect cheese blend. The baked beans’ unique flavor was reflective of this space, boasting sweet and gently earthy flavors. The coleslaw was on point with its acidic, yet welcomed after taste, and the collards were grandma worthy.
Now for the final and most memorable thing at this space, THE PASTRAMI! Made from brisket by many pitmasters, pastrami is a lean cut of meat that when smoked correctly, as it is here, delivers one of the most robust and bold flavors imaginable. The salty and smoky flavors react well with mustards and sauces to produce the signature “Rachel” sandwich in many parts of the United States. I had the pastrami solo and, on a Rachel, and it was one of the best things I’ve eaten since becoming a food critic.
I fully expect this space to become known as one of the nation’s most notable BBQ spots. It’s so good that if you’re within a two-hour distance, it is worth the drive. We can’t wait to do our next review either in Cincy or within a two-mile radiance, because I will definitely be taking that drive. You can reach them at (513) 477-6322or on their website, justqin.com.