Great Food Search: Maw n’ Paw BBQ

Jun 26, 2021 | 2021 Articles, Terrance V. Mc Arthur, The Great Food Search

by Terrance Mc Arthur

Barbecue, barbeque, BBQ, or Q—call it what you want, it’s always good eating. Banners, flags, and billboards up and down Clovis Avenue promoted BBQ, but I never paid much attention to it until I went to a friend’s memorial service at the California State American Legion offices in Sanger (Yes, Sanger). After the service was a barbecue, and it was so-o-o-o-o-o good! Where did this food come from? I found out, and the answer is the subject of this Great Food Search.

Maw n’ Paw BBQ—2686 N. Clovis Ave., Ste. 101, Fresno—Between McKinley and Clinton avenues, across from the FYI Airport, the dead giveaway is a massive, red smoker that looks like a giant sausage welded, bolted, and cemented to the ground (It was a gas station’s propane tank, repurposed, cleaned out, and fitted with doors.)

It’s a giant sausage! It’s a Propane Tank! It’s…a Smoker at Maw n’ Paw BBQ!

Inside the building, it’s blue-collar BBQ, with tables and benches, an area suitable for medium-sized gatherings, and the darkened passageway behind the counter which leads to where culinary magic is performed: the transforming of dead animals into unbelievable delicacies. This fourth-generation Q-ing operation has its roots in Paducah, Kentucky, and the traditions run strong.

The Meats—There are seven different varieties, and each has its own allure.

• Tri-Tip: the East Coast has no idea what we’re talking about because this is a cut they would throw away. Mn’P gives it a dry rub, slow-smokes it over hickory coals, and slices it thin to get the great, chewy flavor that California loves.

Fire-roasted corn and a BBQ Bowl with tri-tip

• Brisket: after eighteen hours in the smoker, this beefy bad boy is falling apart and oh-so-delicious.
• Pulled Pork: smoked slow until it is so tender a gentle pull shreds it into juicy pieces, and your taste buds cry out for more.
• Pastrami: they brine the brisket for four whole days, smoke it for sixteen hours, and slice it paper-thin. This is my favorite.
• Chicken: the breast is grilled over a wood-fueled fire pit.
• Hot Links: infused with a small amount of their Hottie Sauce (see below), it will awaken the sleeping tiger—who will probably cry out for mercy.
• Pork Ribs: you can get a half rack or a full rack. It’s dry-rubbed. It’s slow cooked. It’s what you know you want.

The Sauces—If you’re doing a grab and go, slosh on some liquid joy from the Sauce Bar. If you take it home to a hungry family, buy a squeeze bottle: 12 oz., 22 oz. (shaped like a pig’s head), or 32 oz.

• Sweetie: that dontcha-just-love-it taste is pure comfort.
• Smokey: feel that hickory aroma permeate your soul.
• Hottie: it has a good heat to it, but it won’t permanently damage your nervous system.
• NuclearQ: I dipped a fingertip into a sample and tasted. The left side of my tongue tried to secede from the union. This is the fires from beyond Heck, and the place has a challenge you can attempt: earn a T-shirt and get on the Wall of Fame. I’d love to see the guy on Man vs. Food try this one!

A happy pastrami sandwich in a bath of Smokey Sauce

The Sides—

• Rice Pilaf: broth, butter, rice, and long strands of fideo. This is a worthy pile of pilaf!
• BBQ Beans: not one, not two, but three kinds of beans cooked with meat in Western spices.
• Potato Salad: if there is hard-boiled egg chunks in my potato salad, I consider it a plus. With all the stuff in here, it rates four pluses!
• Cole Slaw: green and purple cabbage, carrot, and the dressing has a gentle hint of vinegar.

Fir up those chickens at Maw n’ Paw BBQ!


Woodfire Grilled Corn on the Cob!

There are so many good things to say about Maw n’ Paw BBQ!

• They are open Monday to Friday most weeks, and some Saturdays.
• The reason you can’t go in on most weekends is: their catering business takes over on the weekend!
• During the pandemic, they didn’t lay off anybody!
• You can buy gift certificates!
• You can order ahead! (Peruse the menu at and call 559-348-9559)

Check out more food articles and more of Terrance’s Great Food Search column in our Food Fun section. And check out a KRL staff profile this week on Terrance!

Terrance V. Mc Arthur worked for the Fresno County Public Library for three decades. He is retired, but not retiring. A storyteller, puppeteer, writer, actor, magician, basketmaker, and all-around interesting person, his goal is to make life more unusual for everyone he meets.


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