A huge, horizontal black cylinder puffed smoke in the parking lot, its luscious aroma bringing to mind succulent State Park campfire dinners. It was lunchtime, and a steady stream of customers joined the line at Aptos St. Barbeque.
The menu is simple, and just simply good, filled with smoked meats like St. Louis ribs, tri-tip, pulled pork, chicken and hot links. These basics are served in meals, sandwiches and salads with traditional sides including coleslaw, potato salad and beans. Rainbow chalk on the blackboard reveals the extensive selection of micro-brewed beer which includes some locally made favorites.
The half-size salad ($6.95) was served in a very large bowl. Mixed leaf lettuces were topped with thin slices of apple, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, and smoky, toothsome chicken breast. Crumbled blue cheese and crunchy sugared pecans topped it off. The tart and sweet house-made bright red raspberry vinaigrette was served on the side.
For a ‘Real Smoked BBQ Meal’ I chose a 2 Meat Combo ($13.95) with about a half pound each of tender, moist tri-tip slices and even moister shreds of smoky pulled pork shoulder. It came with two barbecue sauces: one was thick and tangy with a nice spicy bite, the other vinegary sweet and sour and flecked with red chili flakes. My choice of sides included sweet and tart green cabbage coleslaw and Ranch Beans, which were soft with a mild chili powder flavor. The large, thin bread roll was sliced and griddled, hinting of garlic and not overly buttered.
Aptos St. Barbeque, Aptos Village, 8059 Aptos St., Aptos, 662-1721. Beer and wine. Open Tuesday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (or until sold out). Visit aptosstbbq.com