Genuine Oklahoma/Texas Style barbecue (many consider the equal or better of the best “Southern” variety) has gleefully arrived in Vancouver with the opening of Jazzy John’s, a neighborhood bbq restaurant in a small Hazel Dell neighborhood mall.
Opened by John Moak, a well-known jazz trombonist, in late 2010, the restaurant has gathered a large number of loyal customers and many feel is one of the best bbq eateries in the region, and the only one that offers live music on a regular basis.
John began his barbecue cooking in junior high and always had it in mind to open a barbecue place, but worked as a Telecom engineer for many years, indulging in his love of jazz at night. The names of the famous singers and musicians he has performed with is awesome and includes:
Ella Fitzgerald, Doc Severinsen, Jack Sheldon, Dave Brubeck, Nat Adderly, Randy Brecker, Diane Schurr, Branford Marsalis, Slide Hampton, Clark Terry, Louie Bellson, Pete Christlieb, Herbie Mann, Rosemary Clooney, Ken Peplowski, James Moody, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Michael Amanti, Deana Martin, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Goulet, Shirley Jones, Tommy Tune, Michael W. Smith and Bob Newhart.
After choosing to open a brick and mortar restaurant, discarding the idea of a food cart or a bbq set up in a gas station parking lot, John brought Jazzy John’s to life. The interior is bright, colorful, the walls adorned with jazz posters, and inside and outside (limited) seating. Food is ordered at the counter and then delivered to your table.
The menu is extensive and includes beef brisket, pork spareribs, pulled pork, smoked bologna (don’t laugh, try it), pulled chicken, and hot link sausages.
The brisket can be ordered lean or “moist,” which to afficionados means slices that include some of the delicious point fat cap that provides all the moisture, and much of the flavor of this cut of beef. The brisket here as good as anything you find in the Lone Star State where brisket IS barbecue.
The ribs are bite tender, meaning you can take a bit that comes off the bone with only a little nudging, but the rest of the rib meat stays on the bone for the next mouthful. Flavorful and tender, you can doctor them with any of their roster of seven house-made bbq sauces.
John’s offers up a great selection of side dishes and the beans, red potato salad, vinaigrette slaw and chili stand out. Desserts include a Gooey Fudge Brownie and ice cream, and family recipe Buttermilk and Sweet Potato pies. But is in their sandwich lineup where John’s really rises above the fray and hits your taste buds with a wallop.
The Oakie Rebuen is simply fantastic. Thick, tender, juicy slices of smoky beef, topped with cheese, coleslaw and Thousand Island dressing mounded between thick slices of Texas toast. The Red Baron is just as decadent with chopped brisket, smoked bologna, hot links, cheese and vinaigrette slaw piled on a bun; and then there’s the Chicken Bacon Ranch, which includes pulled chicken, bacon, cheese and Ranch dressing on Texas toast.
The most popular dinner order is their BBQ Sampler for Two, it’s almost their entire menu on a platter. A feast of brisket, pulled pork, hot link sausage, pulled chicken, and bologna, with bbq beans, creamy and vinaigrette coleslaws, potato salad, chili, and Texas toast.
Once a month John’s hosts a BBQ Bistro dinner complete with white tablecloths, candles, waiters and best of all live jazz. The cost is $30 per person and includes appetizers, salads, BBQ carving station featuring brisket, ribs and ham as well as smoked chicken pasta, side dishes, and desserts. Wine and beer are available at an additional charge. Seating is limited to 40, so check out their website for the next date and sign up.
Jazzy John’s BBQ is located at 512 NE 81st St Suite J, Vancouver, WA 98665, next to Ross in the Hazel Dell Marketplace. Phone 360-831-5906, website: jazzyjohnsbbq.com.