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Just Q’in Barbeque
6901 Valley Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45244 (513) 271-6555
You sometimes find the best food in odd locations. Take “Just Q’in”, who would think one of the cities best BBQ joints is in a little village called Newtown. Just Q’in is about the only thing new in Newtown. It’s not a bad idea as Newtown has been devoid of any and all good food except ice cream, pizza & German. A few have tried opening restaurants there but all failed miserably. That was until a big black smoker appeared on the scene.
I was enlightened to Just Q’in at our Burger - Battle by Chef Paul Barraco. He asked me if I tried it and I said no. He shot back with “The best brisket.. in... well, the whole city”. Off I went.
Just Q’in is owned and operated by Matt Cuff (photo/left). A South Carolina native with a serious passion for smokin’ meat. Many BBQ joints open and then decide to get into local competitions. Matt did the opposite. He started off competing for years, then opened a food truck, then a restaurant. He has risen through the ranks and his dedication shows in his food.
Inside there are tables for a dozen diners but I suspect take out is the main stay. Choose from ribs, brisket, chicken, pulled pork or wings. All fresh from the big smoker. Add sides such as slaw, mac &cheese, baked beans or smoked greens beans with brisket pieces. I went with a brisket dinner, slaw and greens beans and added 3 ribs out of curiosity. I wish they offered a sampler with ribs & brisket. I bet that would be a great seller and a great way to try all the goods in one swoop.
The ribs were beautiful. An ever so slight pull was needed to get them off the bone, perfect. A nice smoke deep into the meat, perfect. A slather of house BBQ sauce, not to sweet, not to spicy, deep in flavor and a slight kick, perfect. The brisket was fork tender, under the crust it was juicy juicy juicy and smoked thoroughly, perfect.
The slaw sang loud and clear with cider vinegar, green peppers, cabbage & carrot. A clean finish for sure. They were out of mac & cheese but my smoked green beans made up for it (another one of Chef Paul’s faves). Just cooked through beans with a slight smoke and mist of BBQ, laced with chunks of brisket. How’s that sound?
It’s not cheap, it’s not pricey. Around 10 -15 bucks will buy you a nice dinner and add on ribs by the bone for 2 bucks each. Sandwiches set you back about 7 bucks and the portions are plentiful.
The years of serious competition show in the final product. If you thought City BBQ was good.... just wait until you sink your teeth into these BBQ babies. You’ll actually taste the phrase “practice makes perfect” and see why other Cincy rib joints just can’t measure up. Just Q’in won “Best Ribs” awards from Cincinnati Magazine and Taste of Colerain.
Newtown residents must love it. Waitress Lydia Smoot (photo/right) explained, “I’m a lifelong Newtown native... this is the best restaurant that Newtown has ever had”. And I believe her. I suspect any town, village or neighborhood in the entire tri-state area would say the same if Just Q’in opened in their town as well. After all, here’s a guy who went from years of wowing judges across the country, to settle down wowing local Cincy diners. That’s like quarter-backing for the Cowboys then coming to Cincy to coach little league football, full time.
I’ll say one thing for Just Q’in... Newtown is certainly an unusual spot to open a restaurant (or anything other than a UDF, or maybe a jail). It’s more Mayberry than metropolis. But it is like New York in one respect. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere! Looks to me like they’re making it just fine.