Q Fanatic BBQ is now open in Minneapolis: A first look

Pulled pork is subtle, but the technique is solid.

Pulled pork is subtle, but the technique is solid.

As you round the corner, you'll immediately recognize it by the smoke exhaust pipe sticking conspicuously out of the facade. It's the telltale mark of a BBQ joint. That, and the jam-packed parking lot, despite the fact that this joint has only been open a few days. 

It may be a bit too soon to be looking in on the place, but like everyone else, we couldn't stay away from a Q Fanatic in the city. They've gained a good, loyal following at their original Champlin location. To their credit, they're starting slow at their south Minneapolis outpost. 

They're serving sandwiches and a couple of sides only for now. It's what they're calling the "Fast Lane" menu: Choose a meat (pulled chicken, pulled pork, pulled maple ham, or sliced brisket), choose your fixin's, choose your sauce (a half dozen choices of each), and choose your sides (slaw, potato salad, beans, red beans and rice, house-made potato chips). 

There's just one thing: This "fast lane" isn't really all that fast. The have-it-your-way approach slows things down quite a bit, and we hope they do away with it when the full menu drops. Because really, if you gotta have shredded cheese blend, lettuce, or diced tomatoes on your BBQ, well, get out of line.

Dudes waiting in line for barbecue are the adult equivalent of kids waiting in line to get on a roller coaster. They're giddy, impatient, and a little annoying. And cute. What is it about a burnt-ends brisket that makes us gush? It's primitive, to be sure.

The interior is understated, as any good BBQ shack should be.

The interior is understated, as any good BBQ shack should be.

A crimson smoke-ringed brisket had good, sliceable tenderness and subtle smoke. It's nice when paired with vinegar sauce, itself subtly balanced with a hint of sweet. Pulled pork had headier smoke, and benefitted from the hot pepper vodka BBQ sauce, so brightly acidic it almost eats like a Thai chile sauce.

Both meats boasted fine technique, if not race-right-over-right-now craveability.

We also recommend the eggy potato salad, but were less fond of the BBQ beans that had a strange off-putting acidic tang. Simple, creamy coleslaw is an optimal condiment on any sandwich.

The hoagie-style bread may be a little overbearing, and they might be wise to switch to a more understated product, like a basic soft white bun.

The $6-$9 price points on the sandwiches are an absolute steal considering the generous portions. This is a meal fit for manual labor lunch breaks. 

The world's finest BBQ joints are masters of systems and tricks of the trade. The smoking itself is the slow part; when it comes time to feed the crush of customers, you gotta be swift. While it's clear that Q Fanatic II is working on its systems, we hope they do away with some of the frippery.

Still, considering this too-soon peek, Q Fanatic is doing good work. We have little doubt that once the smoker (and the staff) begins to gain the patina that comes with experience and age, the work will graduate to great.

Q Fanatic Minneapolis

6009 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis