Growing up in Erie during the 80s and 90s the only exposure to BBQ I had either came as sauce slathered on chicken wings at the VFW or whatever overcooked, fall-off-the-b0ne mush steamed and cooked in an oven and dripping with sauce the local restaurants would serve.
These days the buzz around town isn’t just from the growing craft beer scene but when the wind off the lake blows just right, the aroma of smoke meats takes over downtown Erie.
Federal Hill Smokehouse was founded in 2016 by Ryan and Autumn Atzert and sits a few doors down from another of Ryan’s businesses, Ink Assassins Tattoos & Piercings which has been a staple of 26th and Peach St. since 2000. The smokehouse is named for the section of town they’re located and one which 99% of residents probably never heard of until they opened their doors yet has been around since the War of 1812.
Last fall I stopped by to see what the hype was about and to get answers to a popular question from those of us in Pittsburgh. What is a veggie wing and can it be good?
- Three meat platter – ribs, pulled pork and brisket plus a link. Coleslaw and mac n cheese sides.
- Order of veggie wings
Ribs – They didn’t fall off the bone (thank you!) and hold firm when you bite. Light smoke and nice ring plus solid rib flavor. Ribs come unsauced but tables have house-made spicy, sweet and mustard sauces.
Brisket – Brisssssket smokey. Fatty. Juicy. GREAT peppery bark reminiscent of central TX. I could cry it’s so nice.
Sausage – I wish I could get sausage this good in Pittsburgh. Great snap, hint of smoke with heat that sneaks up on you and packed with flavor. Perfect texture.
Veggie wings – Veggie wings are made from seitan. I swear to God they taste like chicken and covered in buffalo sauce. Must order when you get here.
Value – Sweet lawd the amount of tasty smoked meat you get and a low price is almost criminal. Just go do it!
Seating – There are several outdoor picnic tables to enjoy when the weather cooperates and also a few tables inside along with stools by the windows for a view of Peach Street.
Final Verdict – It brings a tear to my eye to visit a remarkable BBQ joint in my hometown. I will make multiple trips back and if you need someone to ride shotgun on the roadtrip I’m all in! Sweet logo as well. I need to get a shirt!
Federal Hill Smokehouse is open Monday through Thursday 11am-3pm unless they sell out early. They’re also on Facebook and Instagram and check out the VERY reasonably priced menu on their website federalhillsmokehouse.com. Hit up Google Maps now and plan your trip to 2609 Peach St., Erie, PA 16508