Pismo Beach, CA
I first visited Mo's three years ago. It was the middle of the week and I stopped in relatively early. The barbecue was terrible, and obviously a day or two old. I said to the guy working the counter "This wasn't smoked this morning, was it?" He simply shrugged and mumbled "I dunno." A couple months after this trip I mentioned my experience to my buddy Les - one of the most knowledgeable people I know on the subject of barbecue - and he reported having a very similar experience when he went there.
So I pretty much put it out of my mind. But then a few years went by and I found myself in Pismo Beach again and I figured why not give it another try? It was much, much better this time around.
On my previous trip I had an order of garlic fries that were cold, including the garlic topping, and a pulled pork sandwich that was old, as I mentioned, and also completely drowned in cole slaw. I do not mind slaw on a sandwich, but that was the only time I can remember having more slaw than pork.
This time my friend and I got a large order of homemade potato chips. As soon as we saw them we knew we couldn't have gotten a smaller order. But they were so damn good we ate almost all of them. Homemade potato chips are one of my biggest weaknesses. I got the shredded pork sandwich and she got the shredded chicken. Since the sandwiches come with slaw on them, we got potato salad on the side instead of slaw.
The shredded pork was very good. It was fresh, and even though there was a lot of sauce on it, the sauce was good. The shredded chicken was phenomenal. I took one bite and it melted in my mouth like the barbecue equivalent of cotton candy.
They have four barbecue sauces: original, hot, Sweet Carolina's, and Philthy Phil's. The first two were good although there was nothing to set them apart from hundreds of sauces I have tried around the country. The sweet sauce was lousy. I am not a fan of sweet sauces, but this was just ridiculous. You could put this on ice cream and it would not be out of place. The Philthy Phil's sauce was fantastic: a vinegar sauce with brown sugar, mustard and spices. I bought a bottle of this to take with me.
So I have been to Mo's twice now. Once was terrible, reheated food, and once was fantastic and very reminiscent of a Southern barbecue shack. One of these days I will make it back for a third time and see what I find.