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WABBQDR- The Washington BBQ Discovery Route

Though often admonished for its lack of good Que, as a dedicate barbecue hunter, I've managed to find more than a few grade A, smoke-filled, meat-stuffed outposts here in Washington state. Maybe the recent population surge has brought in a stream of culinary expats from other BBQ capitals or maybe this thing called the internet has leveled the playing field... Either way, I'll be damned if I haven't had some fine barbecue, right here in the "Evergreen State."

The "Washington BBQ Discovery Route" offers up a lot of options with great paved roads and plenty of dual sport side trips along the way. You can knock it out in a weekend on pretty much any bike, split it up into day trips or take a few days with your ADV machine, to launch into and out of state forests, cruise incredible stretches of twisty pavement and, of course, enjoy some of the region's best BBQ along the way.

Surely, nothing against the reigning champs in Kansas City, Texas, Memphis and North Carolina, but there ain't enough hickory smoke in all of Dixie to hide the fact that the roads to get to the joints listed in the "WABBQDR" are some of the best on the planet.

Before you dive in, I'll leave all you moto campers with a little tip: "Always double up on the cornbread." There is no better camp-side breakfast then a chunky homemade square and a little black tea.

Hole in the Wall - Downtown Seattle

A jumping off point, downtown Seattle, really only offers one choice in BBQ and it's a helluva good one. Hole in the Wall may be just that but, each afternoon when closing up shop, the guys load the smoker with tomorrow's offerings. Authentic, richly-smoked meats and a small alleyway, right next to the shop, where you can probably park your bike for a few minutes. Grab a quick bite here or take it to go as you board one of the downtown ferries and head for the Olympic Peninsula. If you are looking for a bit of a longer ride, take the Bainbridge Ferry and head north. Otherwise, take the Bremerton Ferry and head south.

Smokin Mo's - Shelton

However you arrive, it's time to head for the 101: if you opted for Bainbridge, that means first heading northwest before looping back to go south. If you landed in Bremerton, take Hwy 3 south to the 106 west. This 16 mile road has a few nice twists in it and offers some spectacular, waterside scenery. Once you hit Highway 101, keep an eye out for campsites or ride a little further west in the Olympic National Forest for some dual sport touring.

When the dinner bell rings, work your way into downtown Shelton and make for Smokin Mo's. This is the only spot on the list that offers up "mac and cheese," and It comes highly recommended, as does their cornbread, which is paired with some of the most incredible sweet butter that has ever been made.

Ranch House BBQ - Olympia

From Shelton, head southwest on "Cloquallum Road," looping down toward Elma, Washington. If you're looking for a place to camp, Schafer State Park has a nice set of facilities and is a perfect jumping off point for exploring the Capitol State Forest. The network of dirt roads in this relatively tiny enclave offers some spectacular scenery and a wide array of options for entry and exit. The signage can be more than a bit ambiguous at times, so be sure to top off with fuel and bring along a few snacks.

When the time is right, hit Highway 8 and hone in on one of the most celebrated BBQ joint is western Washington, Ranch House BBQ. If the weather's right, take a little time to relax on the back patio before heading out. Re-fueled, orient yourself to the southeast toward Centralia and pick up Highway 12 on the other side.

Miz Dee's - Yakima

Out on Highway 12, you'll find an endless array of great campsites and dirt roads. One could easily spend a week exploring this region and, depending on your time frame, just pick a dirt road and go. For the casual tourer, staying on Highway 12 will expose you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the state of Washington, but be sure to make a quick, all-pavement side trip around Rim Rock Lake. For those more inclined toward a true offroad experience, you can find that in both Gifford Pinchot and Wenatchee National Forest. Consult a more detailed map and heed the warning signs at the trails head. There is some gnarly stuff out here.

At the eastern end of highway 12, move toward Yakima and locate Miz Dee's. A classic barbecue line-up, note the smoker out front and head in for some of the best que in central Washington.

Country Boys BBQ - Cashmere

Hit the twists and turns along the Yakima River, northbound on Highway 821, before picking up Hwy 97 in Ellensburg. The next stop will be Cashmere, Washington, and while Hwy 97 fully encapsulates the natural beauty of the area, just a few miles east, entrenched in the Wenatchee National Forest, you will find a cross section of dirt roads that will also deliver you downtown and to the mouth watering, Country Boys BBQ. Reward yourself with an iced tea, because summertime temperatures can be blazing hot out here and when you're ready, saddle back up for the final leg out on Highway 2.

Moose Creek BBQ - Arlington

As you work your way back west, keep any eye out for any of the two- lane roads that will carry you toward Granite Falls and finally, Arlington, Washington. Moose Creek BBQ sits in a nondescript strip mall, but don't be fooled. As soon as you enter the place, you're greeted by the actual smoker featured prominently in the dining room. Grab a slab and assemble the final leg of your journey home. For most, this will mean hopping on the interstate, but for those of you with a little gas left in the tank, pick up Hwy 20 and head south of Oak Harbor for the State Route 20 ferry to Port Townsend. Complete the "WABBQDR" loop and hop back on your original ferry to Seattle.

Derek Roberts/July 15


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