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Doan’s Bones Barbecue: A Smoky, Tasty Addition To State College

Doan’s Bones Barbecue is officially back in State College after opening at its new location this week. Located at 401 W. Beaver Ave., the former home of Boots Convenience Store, Doan’s is serving up platters of ribs, pork, brisket, and more barbecue favorites. There are good options for barbecue food nearby, like Hog Father’s on North Atherton Street or Prospector’s down West College Avenue, but the latest addition is the only in downtown.

We sent three of our hungriest writers to Doan’s Bones to check out the food and give you the rundown on one of State College’s newest eateries. Here are our thoughts:

Grant Brown:

I wasn’t expecting a whole lot when I walked into Doan’s Bones, the new BBQ restaurant under a corner of the Graduate building on Atherton and West College. I had been to the convenience store that previously occupied the space, and when I was browsing the cramped shelves I never thought that a BBQ restaurant would one day take its place.

After perusing its menu full of barbecue options ranging from ribs and chicken to brisket and pulled pork, I settled on the pork and ordered a 16-ounce platter option that came with three sides. I chose coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans to accompany the pork. I initially thought the price of $15.85 was a little steep, but after being presented with the large platter of food I was not disappointed and ended up leaving quite full.

The pork came slathered in Doan’s custom sauce in a large styrofoam container, while each side was separated into its own smaller bowl. The pulled pork was tender, came apart easily, and had a good meat-to-fat ratio. The sauce was smokey and vinegary, and certainly has a unique taste, more savory than something off the shelf like Sweet Baby Ray’s.

The baked beans included a nice combination of legumes, and had a similar flavor profile as the pork, with a more smoky, savory taste being the dominant one as opposed to the sweeter taste I’m used to from brands like Bush’s Baked Beans. Hands down, the beans were the best part of my meal.

The coleslaw and the potato salad were the two cold components of my meal, and though each were definitely homemade, I wasn’t wowed by either item like I was with the beans. Overall, each component was good, but I did find myself adding salt and pepper periodically throughout the meal.

While it certainly wasn’t the best barbecue I’ve ever had, Doan’s Bones was a nice break from the usual downtown dining landscape. Even though Doan’s doesn’t rank atop my list of favorite eateries in State College, I would definitely go back when I’m in the mood for barbecue.

Pork: 7/10
Beans: 9/10
Slaw: 6.5/10
Tater Salad: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

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Zach Berger:

I might be in the minority among my esteemed colleagues here, as I have eaten Doan’s Bones when it previously delivered in State College. I knew what to expect from the restaurant: good but not spectacular competition-style barbecue.

I opted for the brisket, with sides of cole slaw and baked beans. We’ll start with the meat, which was cooked to an absurd level of tenderness and mixed with some onions and its own juices. The brisket itself didn’t have a ton of flavor. When I order barbecue brisket, I prefer something with a heavy rub that is smoked for hours and hours, leaving a thick and prominent bark on the meat. The brisket was good, but needed Doan’s barbecue sauce, which was very good.

As for the sides, I enjoyed the slaw. It didn’t blow my mind, but it served its purpose, offering a bright and vibrant contrast to the meat. It was vinegary and peppery with plenty of crunch and included white cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots. The baked beans were impeccably tasty. They were in a slightly thick and flavorful barbecue sauce and were just the right amount of soft without being mushy.

Overall, it was a good meal and is worth a return trip. If I have a car, Hog Father’s is still going to be my barbecue joint of choice, especially because its homemade sweet tea is amazing. But if I’m downtown and want some barbecue, I won’t hesitate to return to Doan’s.

Brisket: 6/10
Beans: 8.5/10
Slaw: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.5/10

Noel Purcell:

Barbecue is one of my passions in the food world. For as much as I love the exotic flavors of Thai and Ethiopian food, sometimes it’s hard to beat the simple pleasure of warm meat, sauce and calorie-laden sides. It’s the type of food that makes you feel happy.

I personally opted for the pulled chicken combo with cole slaw and baked beans. Pulled chicken is tough, because it can end up either too dry or too saucy. Luckily, Doan’s Bones struck that balance well, serving up a 6 oz. serving of tender chicken with its excellent barbecue sauce. It was not overly flavorful, but it did the job.

The sides were my favorite part of the meal. The slaw was an excellent balance to the chicken, as its crunchy and vinegary tastes complemented my main course well. It was a bit hearty and a bit peppery and served the perfect role, and that’s slaw the way it should be done. It blew Primanti’s out of the water, for sure. The baked beans were fantastic, if a tad too sweet for my taste. Zach and Grant both gave excellent reviews of them, and they were my favorite part of the meals.

Chicken: 6.5/10
Beans: 9/10
Slaw: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.5/10

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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a StateCollege.com reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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