After three visits to Knightfire BBQ, the Searcy trailer owned and operated by Matthew Knight, I feel quite comfortable in putting it in my upper echelon of Arkansas barbeque. Knight’s mastery of smoking the full spectrum of meats has landed him and Searcy smack dab on the barbeque map. If you doubt me, just check out the picture of the glorious meat platter from a recent Friday afternoon lunch with friends.
The show-stopper was the enormous, peppery crusted beef rib that had to weigh-in at darn near a pound. Complete with a beautiful smoke ring and tender meat, the unctuous rib was like eating a pot roast on a stick. I recommend taking a few nibbles, then transitioning to bites of pickles and red onion, followed by a forkful of sliced, fatty brisket. The brisket improved from my previous visit, going from very good to great, and maybe just a shade under the Texas elite.
The pulled pork was also a winner, as was the insanely addictive chunks of pork candy. Maybe treat these sweet cubes as dessert, an end-of-meal reward that will send you straight to the couch for an afternoon nap. Excuse the cliché, but the slow-smoked pork belly will practically melt in your mouth.
While brisket and ribs tend to get much of the attention when talking barbeque, the jalapeno cheddar sausage and smoked turkey breast proved to be the underrated gems of the platter. I’ve long been a fan of smoked turkey, and Knight’s ability to achieve such juicy slabs of poultry is something this diner appreciated. I kept finding myself going back to the lighter meat, dipping it in the accompanying sweet and tangy sauce.
I even snuck a few bites of the pastrami sandwich (not pictured), which is also worthy of driving from every corner of Arkansas for. With a variety of offerings, sandwiches are also a big part of the Knightfire BBQ’s menu, as are the burgers. Save Matt’s Burger for its own visit. Comprised of a smoked brisket patty, pickles, and “awesome sauce,” this burger is a prime example of how less is sometimes more. The patty is the headliner, as it should be.
In addition to serving up fantastic food, I am also happy to report that Knightfire BBQ has upgraded its location. Now in a prime spot at 308 W Race Avenue in the heart of town, the paved parking lot, complete with tables, chairs, and umbrellas, is a welcome site over the previous gravel lot. Don’t get me wrong, I am not opposed to scarfing down barbeque in my SUV with the back hatch popped open, but the new digs put a smile on my face.
Speaking of smiles, Knightfire BBQ, which is still somewhat new on the barbeque scene, is definitely on the right trajectory, getting a little better with each visit. It is something Arkansans should be excited about.
I know I am.
308 W Race Ave (Searcy)
Hours: Thursday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Closed Sunday-Wednesday