With dark wood tables and a well-appointed family atmosphere, Pimanyoli’s boasts something near a white tablecloth vibe, only without the white tablecloths. There’s simply far too much house-made, 21-ingredient barbecue sauce on hand to put these bountiful comfort food spreads on delicate linens.
This is exactly the feel owners Yolanda and Pepper Perrilloux envisioned before launching their restaurant named by combining Yolanda’s nickname, “Yoli,” and “Piman,” the Creole word for pepper, on Airline Highway in the summer of 2008. Yolanda grew up rolling tamale shucks and helping her parents sell them. Years ago, when her father died and her mother retired from catering, Yolanda and Pepper kept at it. Now, those same hot tamales from her mother’s recipe are a pepper-flecked standard at Yoli’s restaurant, which also dishes out smoky, seasoned versions of brisket, pulled pork, sandwiches, burgers and wings.
Scroll down to find out what our secret diners thought of Pimanyoli’s.
The Fire Starter
The only thing better than starting some trouble is starting up the pit.
The B.B.L.T. ($7.99). It’s a B.L.T., but to the applewood smoked bacon they add a heap of smoky brisket and a touch of sweet grilled onions, and they serve it on buttery Texas toast. I recommend dousing it generously with Pimanyoli’s homemade barbecue sauce. The result is one of those mouthwatering extravagances you can only crave on TV’s Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives. A side of rich macaroni and cheese ($2.99) made my feast complete.
Tamales ($5.99 half-dozen, $10.95 dozen). I’ve never had better hot tamales than the tender delights Pimanyoli’s serves. Served in real corn shucks, they’re perfectly spicy and bursting with flavor. They are rung up separately, a minor inconvenience that’s well worth it.
Mac and Cheese Side ($2.99). Made from scratch using a family recipe, this is as creamy and savory as mac and cheese gets.
Not my taste:
Smoked Sweet Potato Side ($2.99). The smoke leaves the sweet potatoes more tangy than sweet, despite the sweetened cinnamon butter this side dish comes with. I prefer my sweet potatoes baked and naturally sweet.
The bottom line:
Pimanyoli’s is a diamond in the suburban rough. It’s a family-run restaurant with owners who are there to serve and a kitchen staff skilled in the art of great barbecue and home-style comfort food.
Mr. Meat & Potatoes
Hey veggies, make room for the big boys.
St. Louis Pork Ribs (half rack with two sides, $15.99). I thought I had my favorite ribs in Baton Rouge pegged. Now, I would run over my previous favorites with my car just to get one more bite of the succulent and toothsome ribs from Pimanyoli’s. Drenched with an incredibly smoky, black pepper-like mouth feel, these meaty ribs are amazing and taste even better with the restaurant’s dark homemade barbecue sauce.
Hot Tamales ($5.99 half-dozen, $10.95 dozen). Though I am not a hot tamale connoisseur, the tangy, Tex-Mex spice on these does not mess around, and I appreciated that. This was the perfect appetizer for our table, where we scarfed down each one in record time.
Cobbler-of-the-Day ($4.50). Fresh and seasonal, this is an almost soup cup-deep serving of a Southern classic. I opted for the apple cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream and was surprised by the mild, apple-forward flavor that never tasted like it was swamped by too much cinnamon.
Not my taste:
Fried Yukon Potatoes ($2.79). I was looking for a slight alternative to French fries, and I was disappointed to find these uneven and desperately needing salt and pepper. Next time I’ll just get the fries.
The bottom line:
Even as a kid I dreamed of a “barbecue” place that did not have red-and-white checked tablecloths and sticky floors, and I’ve finally found it. Pimanyoli’s has a warm, family atmosphere, and the kitchen does just about everything right. You can taste the love and care in every dish, especially in the smoky zest of my new favorite ribs.
The Groovy Gourmand
I like a peaceful setting and harmony on my plate.
The Sidewalker ($8.99): This cheeseburger is a masterpiece—every bit as good as you’d expect from a barbecue meat Mecca like Pimanyoli’s. The outside of the meat is seared crisp, sealing in every bit of juicy flavor, and the “everything but the kitchen sink” toppings don’t overwhelm.
Cobbler-of-the-Day ($4.50): “Oh yeah! It’s definitely homemade,” says the menu, and just a bite of their sumptuous blackberry cobbler confirms the claim. Served in a glass bowl more reminiscent of a sundae than those that usually hold this traditional Southern dessert, it is one of the best cobblers you can get outside of your grandma’s kitchen. The scoop of vanilla ice cream will hardly have time to melt before you’re scraping the bowl with your spoon.
The Atmosphere: Walking in, I was struck by how classy Pimanyoli’s looks. The dining room is spacious and has an upscale feel, with dark wood tables and chairs—but they serve their burgers and brisket in plastic baskets with lots of napkins. Nice.
Not my taste:
Sloppy Bread: The burger I tried was perfect—except for the bun. Either it wasn’t toasted long enough, or the bread just wasn’t up for the strain of so many toppings, but a few bites in and the bun turned soggy and fell apart. A burger so juicy and delicious deserves great bread to match.
The bottom line:
Pimanyoli’s feels like a place that’s taking everything to the next level. From the unexpectedly refined dining area to the great spread of food, it’s stylish while still being casual and inexpensive. Definitely a must-try.
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