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Review of Crown Q BBQ Market and Deli

445 NE Killingsworth St
Portland, OR 97211
Phone number: (503) 281-0373

During the last week of the NFL Regular Season, one of my buddies had a craving for large hearty chicken wings. This worked perfectly for me because I had been feeling overly carnivorous and several pounds of meat sounded good to me. So I hopped in my car and drove up to North Portland to the MLK District and met my friend Crown Q BBQ Market and Deli. He had heard about this place from a friend and it felt like an appropriate time to try this place out.

Originally starting off as a food truck, the success of their business led them to invest in a brick and mortar location. The restaurant is not really a full-fledged restaurant; it’s more of a place to buy some very good deli items and BBQ to go with the thought of being a restaurant coming in second. Despite this, the front area seats around 8 people and the seats in the back area can seat an additional 8-10 people. After placing our order at the front counter, my friend and I went to the back area and grabbed a booth for ourselves and watched the NFL games that were currently on while we waited for our food.

There isn’t a particular theme really, and the place seems to hover in a place between BBQ joint, deli, take-out place, and casual service. It’s kind of like a café type of service atmosphere with an in-built deli and food order place. The theme in the front area is virtually disjointed from the theme in the back area (parquet, tile-like in the front and funky purple with wooden booths and large tables in the back) and there didn’t seem to be a flow to things that were going on. However, the color scheme of purple was definitely pronounced.

Another detractor was that it seemed that throughout our meal, various people from the kitchen came out to the back dining area to catch a few minutes (or more) of the games that were currently going on. It took a fair amount of time for all of our food to come out, so I wasn’t sure if it was attributed to the constant back and forth, but when everything came out it was nice and warm. Additionally, on the plus side, the person that took our order brought our food out to us and was very attentive and friendly during our meal as she balanced the front area to meet new customers while checking up on us in the back. It may have not been the most efficient way to go about things, but it worked fine and there were no hiccups.

Nonetheless, despite all of those confusing factors, going to Crown Q clearly isn’t about service, atmosphere and ambiance; it’s about the BBQ, and they definitely have some solid BBQ. With various BBQ items and even deep fried bacon, there was a lot we wanted to get and a lot we ended up getting. On this visit, my friend and I ordered the following items:

  • Chicken Fried Bacon
  • Spicy BBQ Sauced Wings
  • Pulled Pork Sandwich
  • Catfish Sandwich
  • Collard Greens

Sometime novelty items are just that: novel. Other times, novelty items are a revelation. Unfortunately, the Chicken Fried Bacon slanted toward the former. The coating that is used tended to overpower the flavor of the bacon (which is generally hard to do) and the bacon to coating ratio was much too low. A lot of the bites that I took felt more like eating a bacon-flavored coating rather than eating bacon with coating. That said, the flavor was fine and the flaw seemed to be more of a recipe flaw instead of poor execution. Additionally, the chicken fried bacon teetered on being overly greasy at times, but the sauces served alongside mitigated that effect to some degree.

Fortunately, everything else that we got was legitimately solid BBQ and soul food. The BBQ seemed to be a mix of Kansas City style and Carolina style with a strong dependency on both sauce and the brining/marinade processes. The BBQ sauce they use has a nice balance between sweet and smoky along with a fair amount of spice. It tasted kind of like a mix between Kansas City BBQ sauce and Southeast Asian sweet chili sauce. The other sauce that is prominently used is an orange sauce that is akin to the orange sauce used in sushi restaurants except with more smoke and bite.

As for the proteins, the chicken wings were fried to a delicious golden brown before being sauced. As a quick note, they prepare and sell the wings in entire wing sections (so drumettes, wing pieces, and tips) so a half dozen is more than adequate. And despite being heavily sauced, they maintained a crispy exterior that surrounded a moist and tender (but fully cooked) interior.

The pulled pork was also a strong success being cooked to near perfection and having a very nice flavor. The pork itself maintained its natural moisture which was only complemented by additional cooking liquid and their BBQ sauce. As an unintended bonus, the pork had several nuggets of delicious porky fat that I enjoyed. Finally, the catfish had the right amount of flake that was complimented by the right amount of batter. And the coleslaw that topped the sandwich (which is also available as a side) had the right amount of vinegary kick and matched the catfish sandwich very well. Another good point was that the buns used were from a local baker and were also of a good quality.

As a side note, the collard greens that we got as a side was also very well done. It was cooked to the right point of being tender and not mushy. It was also seasoned very well and the addition of bacon really melded the side together.

As previously mentioned, Crown Q is not intended to be a completely full-service type of restaurant, but the person that took our order did a great job of checking in with us as we enjoyed our food. All in all, this was a worthwhile visit and served as a wonderful remedy to the carnivorous pangs I had felt. I would recommend this place for the great BBQ and soul food rather than for the novelties. This place also functions better as a place to buy things to go. Still though, regardless of whether you eat in or out, be prepared for some wonderful food at very reasonable prices.

[A final note: Even though this place is more known for its BBQ, they also have an adequately stocked deli and meats selection. So, after chowing down on some great BBQ, you can also get some fresh meats to go and use in your own cooking. This particular review is focused on the BBQ aspects rather than the aspects of the deli and meats that they provide, but I can assure you that the deli and meats that they provide are also very solid. After all, it’s what they use in the food that they serve.]

Food Quality: 8/10
Ambiance/Décor: 2/3
Service: 2/3
Price Point: 2/2

Final Score: 7.75/10

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