Pop's Is Tops

Pop's Is Tops

What happens when the reviewer can't wait long enough to take a photo of the food? That's right, it's the aftermath of pulled pork, coleslaw and mashed potatoes at Pop's Old Time Bar-B-Que in Fayetteville.

Sauce, pies, coleslaw make barbecue joint a must-experience

By Rachel Birdsell

TFW Contributing Writer

Restaurant: Pop’s Old Time Bar-B-Que

Preamble Ramble

I’ve often driven past Pop’s and thought that I needed to try it — mostly because of my torrid love affair with dives and from the outside, the place definitely has a dive-like appearance. But since I’m not down on 15th Street all that much, it has a tendency to slip my mind, much like a lot of other things, including my own name on occasion. I finally made it down to Pop’s and I really wish I would have tried it a lot sooner.

Food for Thought

I had the chopped pork plate, which comes with your choice of two sides. I opted for the mashed potatoes and gravy and coleslaw because coleslaw with barbecue is one of those rules of life that must be obeyed lest the barbecue gods look down from their lofty smoker in the sky and strike you dead.

My plate came out piled with pork, slaw and potatoes. At first bite, the pork was good but not great. It was very tender and was more like pulled pork rather than chopped, but the sauce that came on it didn’t make me stand up and shout, “Hallelujah.”

Then I reached for the short bottle of sauce. It had writing on the lid, but I couldn’t make it out. I squirted a little on my plate, stuck my finger in and tasted it and WOW!  Not only did I stand up and shout “hallelujah,” but I also broke out into my own rendition of “The Impossible Dream.”
I may have exaggerated that last part.

The sauce was amazing — sweet and smoky with more than a hint of green pepper and just a bit of a bite. It was unlike any other barbecue sauce I’ve ever tasted, and I feel like I should be writing an ode to it instead of trying to describe it in a restaurant review.

It was so good, there was a fraction of a second in which I considered trading my first born for the recipe, but then I remembered that I really do love the kid. Besides, he’s an adult now and that makes him a lot harder to trade for sauce recipes.

The coleslaw was very good, and I’m extremely picky about my coleslaw, mostly because coleslaw tends to get screwed up a lot. I’ve even had coleslaw before that tasted fishy. I’m still not sure how you get coleslaw to taste like old fish, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.

This was perfect. It was very creamy and sweet and tasted like my mother had made it, and Mom makes the best coleslaw in the entire world. The potatoes were made from real potatoes and even had a chunk or two in there to prove that point.

I don’t usually get dessert when I go out to eat, but I figured if everything else was that good, the pie couldn’t be passed up. It was tough deciding between the six different kinds of pies offered: chocolate chip pecan, peanut butter, strawberry rhubarb, apricot rhubarb, coconut cream and chocolate cream. I went with the peanut butter and wasn’t disappointed. It was smooth and rich, and I loved Pop’s even more after I finished it.

Pop's Old Time Bar-B-Que at 504 E. 15th St. in Fayetteville.

Bottoms Up

I had the sweet tea, and for you sweet tea snobs (you know who you are), the sweet tea here is great. Pop’s also offers pints of domestic for $2.75 and imports for $3.75, and that’s a pretty good non-happy-hour price. They also advertise draft beer for $1.75 a pint on the truck parked in the front parking lot.

The Sporkcast

(scale of 1-5 sporks)

Atmosphere: 4.2 vintage sporks with black and white checkered handles.
There are shelves overlooking the dining room that are filled with antiques and vintage toys, tins and trinkets. The mismatched tables and booths are strategically placed in order to fit the most diners in there, but I didn’t feel crowded.
The coolest part of the décor was the vintage dessert carousel that is now doing duty as a book exchange. Yep. A book exchange. The carousel is full of paperbacks and there’s a sign on the door that reads “Bring one, take one.”

Food: 4.85 Texas-sized sporks.
I was figuring on decent food, but I wasn’t prepared for how good everything was. It really did taste like home cooking, which seems to be more difficult to find at restaurants.
There’s so much more on the menu I want to try — especially the chicken fried steak.  The menu states to expect a 20 minute wait to get your chicken fried steak, but something tells me it’s totally worth it.
For those who want a light meal, you can get a bowl of soup for $2.75 and refills for a buck. That’s hard to beat.
You can also grab some pork ’n’ beans and cornbread for $3.75. Doesn’t that seem like something your very religious Aunt Willa, who collected plastic rain bonnets, would serve you for lunch when you went to visit on Saturday afternoon?
Maybe that’s just me.
If you don’t like really wet barbecue, you probably want to order yours dry.
Also, I would have loved to have had a piece of bread or a roll to go with my meal.

Staff: 5 sporks that could be related to you.
I felt extremely welcome at Pop’s. It was like eating at home only there was a lot less name calling, and Pop’s didn’t charge me as much as Mom used to.
Both of the owners came up and checked on me, and it was sincere. They are very genuine people. I’ve since heard a rumor that they’re from Texas, but I was so impressed with them and their establishment, that I’m not even going to hold the Texas thing against them.

Dollars spent: About $13.
They have lunch specials Monday to Friday that range from $4.75 to $9.75, and did I mention a great price on pints?

Chance of returning: I must return.
I don’t know if it’s something they put in the sauce, but I feel as though I have no control over whether to return or not. Is it possible to be brainwashed by barbecue sauce?
Not only is there the chicken fried steak, but there’s also at least five other flavors of pie that are just begging to be tasted. Pop’s may be off the beaten track, but it’s so worth it. Where else can you get barbecue, beer and a book?
Go! Go now!

Categories: Legacy Archive
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