I first met Jack Timmons at his Seattle Brisket Experience popup event way back in 2013. I had come across an invite online for the event with book signings by Daniel Vaughn, BBQ Editor for Texas Monthly. Daniel was in town on the release tour for his book, Prophet of Smoked Meats. I didn’t know what to expect and I suspect, neither did Jack. as he and a group of volunteers set up Costco folding tables and pulled brisket after brisket out of coolers, sliced for a huge sellout crowd. His signature black-framed glasses steaming over, it was clear this laid-back former Microsoftie originally from Central Texas was setting new plans in motion. Seattle had a craving for real Texas BBQ – and he was ready to deliver.
Flash-forward six years and Jack is building a BBQ empire in Seattle. After launching his HQ restaurant and pits in 2014 in Seattle’s SODO district, Jack has opened up spots in downtown Columbia Tower’s food court, and in 2019 Jack’s BBQ – SLU opened as a second restaurant serving in the heart of South Lake Union a.k.a. “Amazonland”.
Jack’s BBQ SLU offers a cozy location with a large L-shaped counter dominating the space, with prep station on one end and a bar on the other. The decor is pure Texas – no-frills with butcher-block tables, plywood adorned walls, a Texas flag and corrugated metal bar. And a Jackalope. It’s clear the idea here is to keep your focus on the food.
We started with two of Jack’s signature cocktails – a Breakfast Mary made with homemade bloody mary mix with spicy BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, black pepper, Tabasco, olive juice, garlic and Tito’s vodka. All of this is topped with a thick slice of Beef Belly Bacon, hence the name. Jack’s also makes a killer Smoked Old Fashioned featuring smoked oranges.
The drinks arrived promptly, along with a half-basket of rib tips. It was lunchtime and the staff were moving quickly and very attentive. Our server was genuinely curious what we thought of the tips, asking follow up questions.
Jack’s BBQ taste is pure Central-Texas, a style that started with German butcher shops in the late 1800’s. Quality meats adorned with simple salt and pepper rubs smoked slow and low over post-oak, mesquite, and hickory on butcher paper with pickles. Jack says you don’t need sauce and we agree.
The Main Event
For our main entree, we shared, “The Texas Trinity” – the Brisket, ribs, sausage, combo platter with Mac & Cheese and Ranch beans. While it was being prepared, I snuck over to the carving station and talked with the Chef slicing thick slabs of brisket. He was excited to talk about their work. The brisket is smoked early every morning a few miles away in the SODO pits, wrapped and shuttled to the SLU location, still steaming when it’s served.
While it was being prepared, I snuck over to the carving station and talked with the Chef slicing thick slabs of brisket. He was excited to talk about their work. The brisket is smoked early every morning a few miles away in the SODO pits, wrapped and transported to the SLU location, still steaming when it’s served.
The Trinity did not disappoint. The rub was consistent and on-point. We got a split of the sausage with cheddar/jalapeno and beef. The grind was spot-on. Our favorite was the cheddar which melted in your mouth.
The ribs were done perfectly – not over done, just slightly done past competition-level they still had a small snap and pulled away clean in a bite. The main feature however was the brisket. Holy cow, the smoke ring was thorough and the meat pull-apart but not fall-apart tender. The Ranch beans are pure Texas. If you’re looking for sweet and pork-laden, you’re in the wrong place. The Mac and Cheese was also good but let’s be clear – the meat is the main event here.
Brunch and other Events
Any visit to Seattle is not complete without a stop at Jack’s BBQ, SLU location now also open Saturday and Sunday 10-2pm for Brunch specials such as the Breakfast Brisket Tacos or Pecan & Banana Pancakes. For us locals, be sure to check out Jack’s BBQ Events including his monthly Prime Rib Dinner matched with select distilleries and local wineries such as DeLille Cellars.
JACK’S BBQ SOUTH LAKE UNION
228 9th Ave N
Seattle WA 98109