I first encountered Meat Mechanics at one of the food truck competitions at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, about 20 minutes from Dover. I can not pass up a BBQ stand, restaurant, cart, store or truck. My most recent restaurant was a BBQ joint, and smoked meats are a passion, to be sure. Like the smell of hickory in your clothes, it never really leaves you.
Owner and grill/smoker guru John Mereider presides over the busy, fluorescently lit, extremely informal and testosterone-laced shrine to carnivora located in a small industrial park between Rt. 1 at Dover AFB and Rt. 113. On all three of my visits I encountered tables full of young airmen in their flight suits, contractors, subcontractors and meat lovers in general. No, I can't fly a C-5, but I was right in there among'em. I'm sure ladies are welcome (the register is manned … uhh, womaned … by a delightful and funny woman who seems to know everyone by name), but the majority of paying customers are guys getting their smoked-meat fix.
John Mereider is proud of his smoking and grilling methods, and has several different smokers and grills to achieve the proper results with different meats. Some of his techniques differ from mine, but they produce a delicious result in both the texture and smoke departments. The pork and chicken are served shredded, and the baby back ribs sport a crackly crust bristling with spices. The “eat-in” version of the ribs has them cut into individual bones, which is very convenient in that you don't have to grab and rip at the entire 2-pound rack like Fred Flintstone. If you prefer to rip, tear and pillage, just ask. They will be happy to oblige. Do note that John only serves ribs that have been smoked in the last few hours. So on busy days, they might run out of ribs by mid-afternoon. So if you are set on Baby Backs, get there around lunchtime. They are open until six most days.
The sandwiches and ribs at Meat Mechanics are served unsauced, so you can choose your slather. The Memphis sauce is not too sweet, with a light hickory overtone and good body. The Carolina sauce has the vinegar component, but is tempered with a bit of pepper and what might be a mild mustard. I'm still working on that one. Every time I have been there the sandwich rolls have been soft and fresh.
By the way, a value-added at Meat Mechanics is the availability of Fordham/Dominion Brewery's delicious soft drinks. I love the black cherry, and the orange will remind you of every Creamsicle you every licked.
I owe them several more visits (see the suffering I endure for you, Dear Reader?), and John will be making an appearance on my radio show in a few weeks. Keep an eye on the Breaking Chews scroller for that one.
Meat Mechanics can be reached at 302-697-7649. Hours are Mon. – Wed. 11-6, and Thurs. – Sat. 11-8.
Catering info may be had by calling 302-730-3898. Check out their FB page here.