West Mobile’s Brick Pit Keeps Turning Out First Class “Q” Along Old Shell Road

8 Oct

Competitors come and competitors go. After some 17 years in business, Bill Armbrecht is now used to the routine. Bill didn’t start out thinking he would ever become Mobile’s King of BBQ. In fact,  he started out his professional career as a charter boat captain. He did love to grill out and entertain friends — and over time he developed a true passion for it. Thus began his quest for what eventually became The Brick Pit. He found his destiny in a small white house not far from the University of South Alabama campus in West Mobile.

Armbrecht claims it was love at first sight. Something in his gut told him that this was where he was going to make his stand. A “Pig Stand,” you might say. He was determined to do it right, so he procured the proper equipment and started turning out amazing, slow-smoked pork BBQ and ribs. Word spread pretty quickly. It does that here in the Heart of Dixie. Folks love good BBQ … and love talking about it too!

There have been a few ups and downs along the way. Road construction almost shut Bill down a few years back. Then there’s the competition: first Dreamland, then The Shed — and Moe’s BBQ. It used to worry him, but Armbrecht has mellowed a bit thru the years. And he knows how loyal his customers have been and continue to be.

This little smoker (above) is not used in the cooking process. It is simply for show — and for luring in potential customers motoring along scenic Old Shell Road. The smoker is loaded with wood each morning and in moments the sweet smoke is drifting across the street and into passing vehicles. Now that is some Old School marketing for you!

Bill Armbrecht created the above slogan when the fabled Dreamland BBQ moved into the Mobile market more than a decade ago. Bill braced himself for an all out BBQ battle, but it never really materialized. There was enough room for both joints. This remains the case in 2011. Mississippi-based The Shed BBQ is the latest arrival on the scene, having set up shop just a stones throw down Old Shell. Each eatery has its following, yet Bill has more than held his own despite not having big corporate backers or investors. It’s all about the food quality — and The Brick Pit continues to do it right.  

The Brick Pit is nestled underneath giant live oak trees. It’s a cozy little spot. The trees are smoke-stained and they smell, well, really good. Not that I usually go around sniffing trees, mind you. I haven’t asked, but I’m guessing the red and white color scheme (both inside and out) is in tribute to Armbrecht’s beloved Crimson Tide. He’s a lifelong fan and the restaurant’s interior decor bears that out. Bear … as in Bryant … get it???

The sign at the front entry (aove) is no exaggeration. We have been all around Dixie and Bill’s BBQ is right up there with the best of ’em. The Q here is artfully smoked overnight and Bill’s expert pitmaster has been with him on and off for most of the eatery’s lifetime. The process is slow and painstaking, no doubt. But the rewards are worthwhile. Deep dark, smokey BBQ pork that will satisfy your most ancient carniverous cravings.

The Rib Plate at lunch (served with your choice of 2 sides & a thick slab of white bread) is $9.99. Now that is a pretty fair shake. They do make a fine cole slaw at The Brick Pit. However this time I stepped outside the box and ordered the potato salad. It was very good — as were the beans. The beans are not just dumped out of a giant tin can. They’re seasoned up nice and have a sweet tang to them. The ribs were thick, super meaty and finger licking good. Armbrecht offers regular or spicy BBQ sauce options. I have long been a fan of the spicy variety, which isn’t scorching hot. I like that, since I want to taste the dark crusted meat that Bill and his crew have worked so hard to turn out of the pits.

The ribs at The Brick Pit are indeed sublime, but please do not miss out on their pulled pork platter. It has long been my favorite call here. The portions are substantial and the meat lean & delicious. Many other BBQ joints around the South are now taking shortcuts to save time and money. Times are hard and desperate measures are sometimes resorted too. Not at The Brick Pit. Bill Armbrecht would surely close his doors before he would allow that to happen. Too much pride. Too much respect for his customers. The day may one day come when Bill again dusts off his Captain’s hat. Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon. When it does, West Mobile will be a much sadder (if less smokey) place.

THE BRICK PIT BBQ – 5456 OLD SHELL ROAD, MOBILE, AL

WWW.BRICKPIT.COM – 251 343-0001

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2 Responses to “West Mobile’s Brick Pit Keeps Turning Out First Class “Q” Along Old Shell Road”

  1. William October 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    Funny how this place engenders such strong emotions. People either love it or despise it, but nobody every says it’s middle of the road.

  2. Jenn Jasgur October 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    great review!

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