Helen Schwab

Heading to mountains to cool off? Try these 2 for ’cue

Green River Bar-B-Que in Saluda.
Green River Bar-B-Que in Saluda. GARY SCHWAB

Tucking yourself into a cabin overlooking the Green River Gorge near Saluda is one way to keep cool when it gets this hot in Charlotte. We recently got additional cool points for the moths that found their way onto our rented porch on the Blue Ridge: Luna, Polyphemus, Pale Beauty, Hubba Hubba.

No, wait. That last was one of the two barbecue places we stumbled on. I confused goodnesses. Here’s a look at both, each of which offered pulled pork that paled next to something else on the menu:

▪ Hubba Hubba Smokehouse uses red and white oak and hickory and serves up an array of meat (pulled pork shoulder, chicken, brisket) and sauces, but what not to miss, absolutely, is ribs.

These are the toothsome, you-have-to-chew-on-’em-a-little kind, not the falling-off-the-bone variety, and sport a marvelous bit of crusted sauce, a good fat-to-meat ratio and enough smokiness to be noticeable, but not distracting.

The other most marvelous offering: 3-ounce sliders (pork, chicken or brisket). Mix and match with the sauces, if you’re the saucy sort, and you’ve got a great cross section of the place. Those sauces: Carolina sweet, S.C. mustard, Eastern vinegar, Western chipotle, cherry chipotle and Southwestern tomatillo.

The slaw served on all sandwiches is an acquired taste: It uses cabbage and red onion, is briefly sauteed (just taking the raw-cabbage-taste edge off) and sports cumin seed. There’s also a vinegar-based slaw. Other sides are similarly derivative: Five kinds of beans in the baked beans, and the like.

The place sprawls, pleasingly, and if you’ve been on a hike with your dogs, bring ’em along; there’s plenty of room.

Details: About $4-$17; www.hubbahubbasmokehouse.com; 2724 Greenville Highway, Flat Rock; 828-694-3551.

▪ Green River Bar-B-Que offers pulled pork, ribs, chicken, smoked turkey, sage-flavored Charlie Ward sausage from Saluda and an array of surprises, from portobello fries to fried green tomatoes stacked with fried shrimp. Pork (shoulder) tended to the wet side; I’m thinking the sliders (yes, here too) might fare better.

But what you really need to order here is the creamy grit fritters: golf-ball-sized spheres that crunch as only panko-crumb surfaces can, then give way to slightly cheesy, creamy grits with body.

An abundance of wood paneling and plainspoken service (and the beer signs) give it a rustic feel despite exotic details, and it was crowded on a late afternoon.

This place is pet-friendly, too, calling its patio the “barking lot,” a joke I’m betting the silent German shepherd lolling under one picnic table near the door didn’t approve.

Details: greenriverbbq.com; 131 U.S. 176 (that’s Main Street), Saluda; 828-749-9892.

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