Bonfire Barbecue: Smoke, fire and authenticity put this BBQ joint on the map

Bonfire Barbecue
   I’m fortunate to have a “neighborhood” barbecue restaurant with folks manning the smokers who know what they’re doing. Barbecue is a highly personal food pursuit and geeks like me don’t have time for poor quality, inconsistency or shortcuts.
   Bonfire Barbecue has very quietly grown its Patton Avenue site since I first went there in April 2016. Now, it’s a bustling ‘cue joint with plenty of indoor seating, big screen TVs and, this season, added patio seating. Service has always been top notch, the fiercely local beer list is dynamic and the menu well-planned and executed.
   Bonfire’s team fully grasps a basic rule of the restaurant business – an admonishment I’ve recited for more than a decade:
   “Hot food hot; cold food cold.”
   Stalwart adherence to this rule is what brings me back again and again to Bonfire – and keeps me away from barbecue joints that get far more praise than Bonfire.
   My go-to here is pulled pork – the benchmark assessment of any pitmaster. It’s juicy, with balanced smokiness and an ample portion. Truthfully, I’ve not had a bad meal here – chicken, fried fish, brisket and championship-grade ribs have passed in front of me. If anything, I’m guilty of eating here too often – it’s a place that I can depend on to hit the mark.
   Sides are a notch above most and offer great variety, from cowboy beans and hand-cut fries to macaroni salad and collard greens – and several dishes in between – you won’t come up short choosing an accompaniment for the meat centerpiecing your plate. The cowboy beans are smoked and have a decidedly spicy kick -- these guys are not afraid of flavor!
   Vegetarian? I have some friends of that persuasion – and they exuberantly testify that Bonfire’s smoked seitan tossed in one of several house-made sauces satisfies their craving for delicious pieces of smoked pig – without the pig.
   Ms. T.J. is awfully fond of fried pickles from the app menu. As a former Cheesehead, she’s is happy to see The Pack represented with a pendant behind the bar.
   Daily food and drink specials, great service and textbook barbecue makes me happy to call Bonfire my neighborhood ‘cue joint.
Bonfire Barbecue, 1056 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28806. 828.255.0020. 11 a.m.- 1 a.m.

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