Northwest day trips and vacationsPORTLAND
Cannon's Rib Express. Don't be daunted by the line ― almost everything is worth the wait at this shiny, corrugated-steel bastion of 'cue. Get sauced-up brisket slathered on a bun, moist smoked chicken, and toothsome spare-ribs. And don't skimp on the sides ― collards, slaw, and macaroni salad are standouts. $-$$. 5410 N.E. 33rd Ave.; 503/288-3836.
Clay's Smokehouse Grill. Purists may thumb their snouts at this barbecue joint with hipster, vegetarian tendencies. Ignore them and head straight for the succulent pork ribs ― the perfect combination of caramelized, crispy ends and luscious, tender, savory pig. Incendiary sausage, pecan-topped greens, and grandma's desserts are likewise stellar. $; closed Mon-Tue. 2932 S.E. Division St.; 503/ 235-4755.
Smokin' Swine Publick House. Former sixth-grade teacher Ken Pickett found his second calling in Carolina "Q," served up in a patchwork setting of Oregon swagger, British pub memorabilia, and "C'lina" sauces. Baby backs are a must ― wet or dry. Melting brisket and pulled pork (pour on that vinegary Billy sauce) are delectable. $; closed Sun. 2809 Market St. N.E.; 503/399-1995.
OK Corral. A real barbecue shack, this place looks like it ought to be on pilings hanging over a bayou in some tiny Louisiana town. Instead, it's in the Greenwood District, but that doesn't keep owner and chef Otis Austin from holding court in grand, backwater Southern style. Sauces are rich, thick, spicy, and sloppy (you'll pull many paper towels from the roll on your table). $$. 8733 Greenwood Ave. N.; 206/783-3356.
Memphis Blues Barbeque House. Five years ago, after chowing down on pulled-pork sandwiches in Memphis, owners George Siu and Park Heffelfinger made it a mission to bring Southern 'cue to Vancouver. The Memphis Feast (about $23 U.S.) is the thing to order with friends: excellent meats ― brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork ― served on a big platter. $. 1465 W. Broadway St.; 604/738-6806.