Meats on the Fruit Loop
By Laurel Brown for Hood River Eats
Summer might be over, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait a whole year for good barbeque. Apple Valley BBQ, nestled in the heart of Parkdale, Ore., is a tasty “Northwest style” BBQ spot with a quaint atmosphere and a flavorful menu. They boast well-rounded BBQ options, including Gorge-specific twists on traditional dishes. Chef/Owner Justin White, who started the restaurant in 2011, has introduced local fruits like pears and apples to his recipes, giving his establishment a unique leg up. In addition to receiving most produce fresh from Tumbleweed Farms in the Upper Valley, Apple Valley BBQ uses cherry wood from local apple orchards to smoke their meats. This creates a special, sweet flavor that can only be attributed to the Gorge.
As with most restaurants post-COVID, Apple Valley BBQ states on their website that due to limited staff, they are open until they run out of food. Luckily, this didn’t cause any issues during my dining experience. I opted for the BBQ dinner plate: Smoked pulled pork, ¼ rack of ribs, and two sides. The ribs were cooked perfectly, though they did leave me wanting more meat on the bone, and the pulled pork was smokey and savory any way I tried it – in a quesadilla, on mac and cheese, or à la carte. As for my sides, the garlic mashed potatoes were my absolute favorite! They were creamy and buttery with the perfect amount of garlic. Of course I also had to try the classic cornbread for my other side, which did not disappoint, and the apple cobbler hard cider they offered was so delicious.
Apple Valley BBQ makes their own signature BBQ sauces, one “spicy” and one “sweet.” Both tasted rather tangy and sweet, adding lots of flavor to my ribs and pork without too much spice. These signatures sauces, as well as their custom dry rub, are all available for purchase. The most unique thing about this place, though, has to be their special sides, cider baked beans and pear coleslaw. With a distinct flavor at first bite, the baked beans were reminiscent of classic sweet baked beans. The pear coleslaw was my favorite of the two, a traditional, creamy side with an added crunch of sweet ripe pear. If you like trying new dishes and exploring your palate, add these sides to your list.
Bonus perks of the evening were the quick, kind servers who made my experience easy and relaxed. They were also wonderfully dog-friendly, treating my four-legged pal Bear to his very own water bowl and treats on the patio. The other diners couldn’t help but greet him with a pat and a smile, and I could tell he loved his visit too!
White started the restaurant after 5 years of running the family business at Apple Valley Country Store in Hood River, Ore., where he began hosting weekend BBQ events. Drop by White’s establishment to enjoy a casual, comfortable dinner with a plenty of food and outdoor seating options. They are open Wednesday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. or until BBQ runs out! Apple Valley BBQ is located at 4956 Baseline Drive, Mt. Hood-Parkdale. They offer catering for groups larger than 75 people and can be reached at 541- 352-3554.
All info about Apple Valley BBQ gathered from their website, applevalleybbq.com.