The scent of homemade vinegar-based sauces and smoky, charred meats hits you almost a block away from GD BBQ. Once you smell it, you're already hooked.
The small Garden District barbecue spot on Government Street opened last fall. The owners, Gordon Mese and his brothers, are working with the former pitmaster for Smokin Aces, Robert Vazquez. I've heard a lot of talk about GD BBQ the last few months, so a friend and I recently checked it out.
GD BBQ is picturesque. It’s the definition of shabby chic, with its outdoor wooden picnic tables and its quirky, half outside-half inside cooking area — all set under the majestic oak trees and vibrant colors of the Garden District. The setting works. You’re immediately comfortable, and the world can slow down a bit. Your palate can take some time for a bit of self-care.
GD BBQ prides itself on being fast food with more restaurant quality. The friends who have talked up the restaurant impressed upon me its originality and freshness. I had that in mind throughout my meal — and those friends weren't entirely wrong.
We started with the pulled pork nachos ($7.50). Although the pulled pork on the nachos was flavorful and had just the right amount of heat, I was disappointed with the cheese sauce. It was processed and artificial, and I began to worry that the fast food part was too ingrained in the place.
I need not worry for long.
For my main dish, I ordered the combo plate ($14): brisket and sausage with heaping helpings of baked beans, green beans and potato salad. Any reservations I’d had, solely based on some cheese sauce, were soon well out the window. The flavors transported me to every backyard cook out I’d ever been to, and I was happy. The meats were tender and succulent, and the barbecue sauce managed to beautifully mix tangy, sweet and salty, with no one specific taste overpowering the other. And the sides — it was proper home cooking.
My friend opted for the stuffed meatloaf, a weekly special ($13). The meat was bathed in its own juices and wrapped around a deliciously seasoned mix of ham and Gouda and pepper jack cheese. Surprisingly, the dish had so many qualities that I love about Italian cooking — and this was at a barbecue joint.
GD BBQ does what a lot of other barbecue places aren’t doing. It is mixing it up and getting creative. Ribs are ribs are ribs if you eat enough of them or douse them with enough sauce in a bottle. But change them up by adding citrus or Argentinian seasonings, and you’re in an entirely different ballpark. That’s what GD BBQ is doing. It's adding creative flavors to an already desirable product — and doing it well.
And I, for one, am pretty GD thankful for that.
2504 Government St.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday
(225) 228-2611; gd-barbeque.business.site
Pros: Great meats and sauces; comfortable, neighborhood setting
Cons: Parking is tough; cheese sauce is underwhelming