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Bear Creek Open Pit BBQ

21030 Point Lookout Rd, Callaway, MD - (301) 994-1030
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/6/2010 1:38:00 PM
Callaway is way south in Maryland; and while the Chesapeake Bay is best-known (and rightfully so) for its excellent seafood, it is also a place where you’ll find fine true-South barbecue. One of several smoke houses in the region, Bear Creek is unique for its huge open pit. You’ll see it on the left as you walk in the door. Here, pitmaster Curtis Shreve cooks pork and beef so tender that if you look at it hard, it falls apart. We are especially fond of the pork, either hand-pulled into shreds or sliced into pieces soft as velvet. It has a fine smoky flavor and a piggy richness that defies description. It is, in fact, so good that we like it without any sauce whatsoever, all the better to savor the flavor of the meat. (Mr. Shreve’s sauce, we should say, is excellent: sweet, gently spicy and mildly addictive.)

Beyond superb barbecue, you can expect Bear Creek to have interesting game on the menu. Curtis Shreve is a hunter, and while he cannot serve what he kills (health department regulations forbid it), he does have a fondness for such meats as venison, alligator, and frogs legs. When we stopped in, the day’s special was rabbit stew – a hearty meal that included big hunks of carrot and potato and easy-to-eat pieces of breaded and fried rabbit. On the side of the stew we had a block of delicious homemade cornbread.

Mr. Shreve originally hails from the Louisiana/Texas area; so his cooking reflects southwest roots, too. The kids’ menu contains corn dogs reminiscent of those at the Texas State Fair; and this is the only place in the region we know that serves the unique southwest specialty, Frito pie. That’s a bed of corn chips topped with chili, crowned with cheese and chopped onions. It is a brilliant combination of food because the chili and the corn chips don’t quite blend together. Some chips stay crisp, others become ribbons of salty cornmeal among the meat; and the cheese shreds on top melt into rivulets of bright orange dairy richness. Mr. Shreve remembered, “When I was a kid years ago, they used to take a scoop of chili and put it right in the bag of Fritos and you ate it just like that. Now the bags are made of plastic that does not withstand the heat. So we serve our Fritos pie in a dish.”

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
sliced pork
Fritos pie
Pulled Pork Platter
cornbread
Rib Platter
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A close view of Bear Creek's sliced pork sandwich: barbecue at its finest.
"A close view of Bear Creek's sliced pork sandwich: barbecue at its finest."
Michael Stern





The ribs provide a nice crusty chew.
"The ribs provide a nice crusty chew."
Cliff Strutz


A sliced pork sandwich, unsauced, on the dashboard of our car outside Bear Creek
"A sliced pork sandwich, unsauced, on the dashboard of our car outside Bear Creek"
Michael Stern


Listed on the menu as Cajun Hot Links, the taste is more sweet than hot.
"Listed on the menu as Cajun Hot Links, the taste is more sweet than hot."
Cliff Strutz


This close view of Fritos pie doesn't even show the bed of Fritos, which are buried under chili, cheese, and onions. A big piece of cornbread comes alongside this true taste of the American southwest ... in southernmost Maryland!
"This close view of Fritos pie doesn't even show the bed of Fritos, which are buried under chili, cheese, and onions. A big piece of cornbread comes alongside this true taste of the American southwest ... in southernmost Maryland!"
Michael Stern


Here's a take-out container of Bear Creek rabbit stew. Talk about a hearty meal!
"Here's a take-out container of Bear Creek rabbit stew. Talk about a hearty meal!"
Michael Stern


Pitmaster Curtis Shreve at his open pit
"Pitmaster Curtis Shreve at his open pit"
Michael Stern


This unsauced pulled pork sandwich is part of the pulled pork platter.  As you can see, they give you more pork than the bun could possibly fit.
"This unsauced pulled pork sandwich is part of the pulled pork platter. As you can see, they give you more pork than the bun could possibly fit."
Cliff Strutz


This sign is a reminder that Bear Creek Open Pit BBQ is in St. Mary's County, home of stuffed ham!
"This sign is a reminder that Bear Creek Open Pit BBQ is in St. Mary's County, home of stuffed ham!"
Cliff Strutz


This menu with lots of interesting choices hangs behind the ordering counter.
"This menu with lots of interesting choices hangs behind the ordering counter."
Cliff Strutz


Until recently, all dining at Bear Creek BBQ was either at picnic tables or off the dashboard of cars. This new indoor dining room, festooned with trophies that proprietor Curtis Shreve has hunted, makes Bear Creek an all-weather eatery /slash/ taxidermy museum.
"Until recently, all dining at Bear Creek BBQ was either at picnic tables or off the dashboard of cars. This new indoor dining room, festooned with trophies that proprietor Curtis Shreve has hunted, makes Bear Creek an all-weather eatery /slash/ taxidermy museum."
Michael Stern


This stuffed bear chasing a stuffed wolf is just part of the Western-themed decor.
"This stuffed bear chasing a stuffed wolf is just part of the Western-themed decor."
Cliff Strutz



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