Pit Beef: From Maryland to Montana



Just a short 1,956 mile road trip connects Roundup to Baltimore and when it comes to barbecue, Montana and Maryland have one thing in common: they are both states with deep connections to the world of barbecue but are also often overlooked in conversations about it. Montana barbecue is built on a rich history of cattle drives that brought ranchers and their barbecue from Texas, Kansas, and all over the south. At the same time Maryland barbecue is known for one thing and one thing only: Pit Beef. And it is one of barbecue's best kept secrets.


Known for being a somewhat tough and low cost meat, Pit Beef (smoked, crusty, and medium rare top round) was born in working class homes on the East side of of Baltimore. Rubbed with salt & pepper and a couple of other powerful spices and sliced hot and thin like a deli meat, this tough meat exploded onto the market. In the early 1970s, small stands started to set up along the Pulaski highway and they had one mission in mind: sell this household name to commuters on their way home from work.


Over time, stands started to make a name for themselves by word of mouth. People developed favorites. A handful of the small roadside stands that people frequented evolved into full restaurants with the capacity to smoke more beef and meet the growing demand. One notable example, Chaps pit beef has made a national name for itself as THE place in Baltimore to fill your pit beef craving.


When Joey, our very own Baltimore native was a kid growing up in Maryland, he fell in love with Pit Beef. Very few trips to the pool, the mall, or the park during the summer went without a stop for a Pit Beef sandwich piled high with thin beef and topped with a creamy horseradish sauce.


So what happens with Baltimore meets Roundup? We proudly add pit beef to our list of five core meets at The Backporch, but we do it our way. At The Backporch, barbecue is slow and social so we cook our pit beef over a low and slow fire. We also smoke ours over all natural hard woods instead of charcoal. While a slight deviation from its origins our pit beef tell the story of a Baltimore native meeting a Montana native and opening a barbecue restaurant inspired by the world.