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A pair of roadside entrepreneurs are dishing up some of the tastiest barbecue in the valley
German sausages are cooked at Goebel's in Shady Cove. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Sidiki “Sid” Cisse cooks a pork belly mac-and-cheese at Sid's Gourmet in Medford. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Nick Smith, pit master, slices a beef brisket at Goebel's in Shady Cove. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
A beef brisket is sliced at Goebel's. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Giant pit-baked potatoes are cooked at Goebel's. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Pork belly mac-and-cheese at Sid's Gourmet. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Smoked pork belly is heated up for a mac-and-cheese at Sid’s Gourmet in Medford. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]

A vast and varied assortment of barbecue shacks, food trucks and other eateries have cropped up and even flourished locally despite two years of pandemic drudgery.

While the economy hasn’t been the easiest on small businesses of any sort, food trucks and restaurants maintain a reasonably steady following serving up big helpings of comfort food.

As a result, barbecue is solidly represented around Southern Oregon these days.

Whether it’s straight off the smoker, shredded into pasta or turned into a sandwich, a slew of barbecue favorites are earning praise from Shady Cove to Ashland, with cooks hailing from different regions of the country and abroad.

Goebel’s General Store & BBQ in Shady Cove commands a steady stream of folks from at least a twocounty area who seek out the aluminum shack along the frontage of Highway 62.

Owners Laura and Seth Goebel, originally from Texas, started serving smoked meat and a slew of barbecue-compatible sides out of sheer necessity, said Larkynn Tupper, Goebel’s guest service supervisor.

“They’re from Texas, so they know what good barbecue is supposed to taste like.

When they first moved here, the barbecue scene was so sad that Laura said, ‘I guess I’m gonna have to make my own,’ she added, noting that, most days, the little shack sells out of food before closing time.

“It’s a great stop if anyone’s traveling to Crater Lake, Union Creek or Lost Creek. Not cutting any corners as far as the preparation of everything is huge. When it comes down to the meat itself, our ingredients are all locally sourced and we are slow about smoking it. Our owners built the smoker on their ranch in West Texas, and we source our wood — a combination of oak, pecan and mesquite, from Texas.”

The owners have a focus on helping the community.

Goebel’s fed the community and firefighters after devastating fires two years ago, and they feature 80-plus local vendors inside Goebel’s General Store, boasting a relaxing and colorful atmosphere where visitors can shop while they wait for their dinner.

Tupper added, “Our food is great. We do make everything from scratch, and we have the best customer service. It’s genuine Texas BBQ in Oregon.”

For details, see www.goebelscountrystore.com/ or call 541-878-3807. The address is 22299 Highway 62, Shady Cove.

Offering a different spin on things is Sid’s Gourmet Smoke N Grill.

Owners Sid and Nora Cisse were brainstorming what to serve when they opened their food truck in August of 2020. In the midst of the pandemic, and the heat of summer, they wanted something happy.

Starting with homemade popsicles, which they offer in an array of ever-changing custom flavors, Sidiki “Sid” Cisse, who hails from the Ivory Coast, decided to make some of his own favorites — fried rice and mac-and-cheese, with smoked proteins that elevate the flavor profile into the stratosphere.

“He makes the best fried rice anyone has ever eaten, so I said why not do the fried rice and some other stuff with the smoked meat,” said Nora Cisse.

“He started playing with smoking brisket, and then we added chicken and other meats like pork belly.”

As for ingredients, whether meat, cheeses or produce, everything is locally sourced and fresh, including a list of custom sauces. Sid’s rounds out the menu with specialty drinks — think Jamaican Tea (Hibiscus Drink), natural sodas and OMGinger, a West African drink made with fresh ginger, pineapple and lime.

“We don’t open a jar or a can. Nothing is ever frozen. All from scratch,” Nora said.

When it comes to barbecue, fresh ingredients, good meat and doing it “from scratch” is the best recipe from wherever you’re eating.

“A gentleman came in the other day and said he was from Tennessee, and he said, ‘I’ll tell you what. I’m from the part of the United States that is known for having good barbecue ... but this is the best barbecue I’ve ever had,” recalled Sid.

“I think it just has to be fresh and the ingredients have to be the best you can find. I keep everything simple, and I don’t do too much to complicate the seasoning of the meat. It’s just simple and fresh. I want the meat to speak for itself.”

Sid’s Gourmet is at 702 S. Grape St., in Medford.

For details and to order ahead, call 458-226-2538, or see sidsgourmet.com.

If you go

Barbecue joints around the Rogue Valley offer everything from classic menu items to their own spin on favorites from around the country.

Whether it’s a specialty sandwich or side item or a full rack of ribs to take home for dinner, the local food trucks, eateries and barbecue shacks have barbecue seekers more than covered.

All Smoked Out BBQ

Medford: A mobile caterer and food truck tucked alongside the Medford post office, it offers “Oklahoma-style BBQ” cooked over mesquite hardwoods. (allsmokedoutbbq.org)

Back Porch BBQ

Medford food truck and Jacksonville eatery: In business since 1989, Back Porch offers Texas-style barbecue, with steaks, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and entrée salads for lunch, dinner and catered events. (backporchjacksonville.com)

Hemi and Hogs Bar and Grill

Medford: Offering dine-in, takeout and delivery, Hemi and Hogs serves regular “bar food” items in addition to daily, fresh-smoked barbecue, including St. Louis-style ribs, barbecue chicken, angus sirloin steaks and big servings of pulled pork sandwiches. (www.facebook.com/Hemi-and-Hogs-Bar-and-Grill-113834450054093/)

J’s Bistro Wagon

Talent: Named for three J-named chefs, John, Joe and Jeff, J’s Bistro offers a “wagon menu fit for cowboy royalty,” ranging from teriyaki and buffalo-style chicken legs to cod fish and chips or pork ribs. The wagon also cooks for “Wine & Dine” events, posted to its social media and web page, partnering with local wineries to provide dinner. (https://jsbistroast.com)

Mary’s BBQ Place

Central Point: Outdoor smoker — dine in, drive-thru or delivery — smoked meats and homemade sides (marysbbqplace.com)

Rogue-Ish Smokers

Medford: A mobile smoker and catering ser-vice based out of Roxy Ann Winery, the eatery offers unique menu items such as barbecue stuffed maple bars, apple slaw, smoked mac and cheese and bacon-wrapped poppers. Serv-ings range from lunch-sized to “by the pound” for family-style meals. (rogue-ishsmokers.com)

Sweet Tea Express

Central Point, Medford, Grants Pass: Offers lunch and catering; Sweet Tea Express has a robust barbecue offering on its menu at its four locations, including burgers and barbecue classics. (sweetteaexpress.com)

Click here to read the 2022 edition of Our Valley.