Serious Eats

A Sandwich A Day: Eli's BBQ in Cincinnati

In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.

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[Photograph: Laura Arnold]

Eli's BBQ has been in multiple locations prior to finding a more permanent home along the banks of the Ohio River in a nondescript residential neighborhood. There aren't any words on the restaurant's signage; just a straightforward symbol of a pig, informing you that you've reached your destination. And while it may not look like much from the outside, Eli's is worth the porky pilgrimage, if for nothing else than what is the best pulled pork sandwich in Cincinnati.

Smoked pork, brushed with a vinegar mop sauce on the grill, is served with just the right amount of tangy, slightly sweet barbecue sauce on a buttered, toasted bun. You will be asked if you want coleslaw on your sandwich, and the only correct answer is "yes, please."

The sandwich ($5, or $8 with two sides) has plenty of crispy pork bits, and a huge flavor that matches the pink smoke ring after 20 hours of being surrounded by fragrant hickory smoke. The atmosphere of the small restaurant completes the package, with a record player in the corner quietly playing the staff or patron's tunes of choice, and local art on the walls.

If you do make the journey, a few words of caution: they often sell out by dinnertime, and even when we arrived for lunch, they were already sold out of ribs. Also, they only take cash or check. While the restaurant is BYOB, you also have your choice of a few sodas, which are kept ice cold.

Eli's BBQ

3313 Riverside Drive,Cincinnati, OH 45226 (map)
513-307-8318

About the author: Laura Arnold is a Southern native living in Cincinnati with a weakness for barbecue and a small cheese problem (that there's never enough room in the refrigerator for it all). You can follow her adventures with her husband David on their blog, Cincinnati Nomerati, or on Twitter at @cincynomerati.

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