A beautiful ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston, and a mini jaunt on your bike, in your car, or via taxi, you will find yourself in the quaint town of Port Gamble, Washington. One may surprised by the cozy one-block town, where the museum and the library, the tea house and the arts & crafts store are all lovingly maintained across the street from each other.
Make your way around the corner, and you’ll find some of the finest BBQ west of Seattle. Mike’s Four Star BBQ’s extensive patio warmly welcomes patrons, but you have to enter the doors of the spacious, one-room establishment to get the true spirit of this joint. Mike and his wife, Stephanie run the counter and the kitchen with smiles and big hearts! Enjoy a conversation, ask for recommendations, or just place your order and find a seat in the cafeteria-style dining area.
It was a similar experience when I first made my way to Mike’s: a ferry trip, a short car ride, a tour around town, and a sign that boasted BBQ! It was well worth the summer trip and one that I would highly recommend.
Type of cuisine: “Mike’s Four Star BBQ, located at 4719 NE State HWY 104, is the old service station in historic Port Gamble. The building is now a roadhouse that serves authentic Carolina Style Pit BBQ. Enjoy pulled pork, beef brisket, ribs, chicken, handmade sausage, burgers and more.” The more includes sweet potato fries, potato skins, crispy onion rings, coleslaw, smokey BBQ beans, pickle chips, wings, salad, giant cheeseburgers, a smoked chicken quesadilla and about as many platters as you can think up!
Ambiance: The light blue paint with white trim along the exterior easily emphasizes the red and white logo that is Mike’s Four Star BBQ. With only three, small windows along the street-facing side of the establishment, even during daylight hours, a dim, true BBQ joint feel emanates from the inside. A casual dining area just outside includes round picnic tables and benches, set underneath large umbrellas to shade patrons from the intense heat and sunshine of an early Pacific Northwest August eve. The gravel flooring meets a paved, concrete sidewalk, leading into the large door of the restaurants interior. The expansive space feels even more grand with its high ceilings and one room, opening out from the kitchen area, blocked only by a counter for the cash register and ample space to pick up orders and select your beverage from the soda fountain. A chalkboard overhead spells out the details of the menu, which seems small, but leaves no room for going home hungry. The dark interior, with waxed concrete floor, rustic, heavy-duty picnic tables inside for parties of four to twenty mark the perfect way to introduce and unite two families.
What I ordered: I selected the Potato Skins ($8.50) with smoked chicken, topped with cheese, sour cream, green onions and Mike’s Four Star BBQ sauce. My husband, a BBQ fiend went with the Full Rack of Ribs ($25), which included “bean and slaw”. Others in our extensive (and easily accommodated) party selected everything from Mike’s Giant Cheeseburger ($10) with 1/2 pound Angus beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and Mike’s house dressing, to French Fries ($3.95) with the skin on, seasoned Mike’s way, and beer battered Onion Rings ($4.50). We had the Smokey BBQ Beans ($3.95), slow smoked and seasoned with Mike’s secret spices, Caroline Cole Slaw ($3.95), sweet and tangy, without mayo! We saw other enjoying the Smoked Chicken Quesadilla ($7.95) with pulled chicken, jack cheese, sour cream, green onions and Mike’s Four Star BBQ sauce, Smoked 1/4 Chicken ($6.50 a la carte; $8.50 plate), large smoked dark meat leg and thigh piece, skin on. Two people enjoyed the Cheeseburger Salad ($10.50 each) with 1/2 pound of Angus beef, American cheese, tomato, pickles, onions and Mike’s House Sauce served on Romaine lettuce, a couple of people also partaking of the Walker-Ames House Salad ($8.95 each) with Romaine lettuce, bacon, tomato, green onions and croutons. Rib plates ($9.95 each), Pulled Pork and Pulled Chicken (dark meat) Sandwiches ($6.95 a la carte; $8.95 plate) with dry rubbed, slow smoked pork shoulder served between two, thick slices of yellow (potato?) bread. Unlimited soda refills helped to wash down the plethora of foods at our ten-plus tables, with over thirty of our favorite family members and friends!
What I loved: The food was amazingly delicious, flavorful and juicy. The ribs tender and dry, covered with BBQ sauce. The potato skins filling and tasty. The smoked chicken juicy and tender, falling off the bone as I went to take an offered sample from friend. The burger, one of the best, most pure, all-American burgers I have had in a while. The beans full of smoky goodness and the coleslaw tangy and pungent.
Why I loved it: The staff, Mike, Stephanie and the young’uns who took our orders made for a perfect, at home-meal feel in an unfamiliar town. Even while recounting the memories of her niece’s wedding at the Hood Canal Vista Pavilion just three weeks prior, Stephanie’s eyes began welling up as she held back tears thinking of the beautiful day my husband and I shared.
Cost: Low to high ($6.50 – $38 for meals serving one to five people)