By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jan 13, 2016 at 3:28 PM

Looks like the wait for Iron Grate BBQ has come down to less than two weeks. According to chef and owner Aaron Patin, the restaurant will open its doors on Friday, Jan. 22. That’s the new barbecue restaurant sharing space with Hawthorne Coffee Roasters at 4177 S. Howell Ave.

While you wait, here’s a bit more on the food at an eatery that could change the way Milwaukee views barbecue.

Things you need to know

When you head over to Iron Grate and order up your barbecue, you want to be prepared to make a few decisions. After all, the menu is set up on the basis of the southern concept of "meat and three."

The notion is simple – each dinner consists of a choice of protein with three side dishes – but it’s not something you see much here in Wisconsin. Fortunately, Patin’s formula for creating meat and three meals is simple. 

The standard "meat and three" feeds one person ($15). Two meats and three feeds one hungry person ($23). And three meats and three feeds two people ($30). Combos built to feed groups of four, eight or 12 people will also be available, priced from $65 to $215. If you’re curious, a combo for four includes pulled pork, hot links, Milwaukee ribs and two sides.

Protein choices include

  • Hotlinks made with both seasoned ground pork and pieces of diced pork loin to give the sausage texture.

  • Texas brisket that’s slow-cooked to retain the fat in the muscle tissue and seasoned with both a rub and a mop sauce, resulting in meat that’s crispy and stick on the outside but juicy on the inside.

  • Pulled pork that’s also rubbed, mopped and slow cooked, giving it a crispy sticky exterior and a tender moist interior.

  • Milwaukee ribs. Since these are essentially wood-smoked bone-in pork belly, you shouldn’t expect a rack. Instead, you can expect a meaty bone-in portion of succulent spare rib and pork belly.

Sides include

  • Smoked tomato macaroni and cheese made with cavatappi, a pasta Patin says is "the best at soaking up the sauce."
  • Barbecued beans with salt pork, a dish inspired by those he grew up eating thanks to his mother, who hails from Mexico.
  • Smooth creamy grits. Patin says theirs are instant, but they’re cooked long and slow (for two hours) to give them creaminess. "There’s no cheese in there," he says, "But they’re still awesome. And that’s tough to do."
  • Finely chopped coleslaw, just like Colonel Sanders would make it, only with the inclusion of an Iron Grate "secret ingredient," smoked apple cider vinegar.

Every order comes with a slice (or more) of Texas toast, thick slices of white bread that is strong enough to hold up to absorbing plenty of delicious meat sauces while also standing up to the meat.

Need things spicy? Grab a bottle of Gypsy Danger hot sauce (made by local chef and Gypsy Taco slinger, Mitch Ciohon).

Iron Grate BBQ Co.'s hours will be Friday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (or until they are out of BBQ). Both dine-in (in the space shared with Hawthorne Coffee) and carry-out will be available.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.