The pork brisket at Dana J’s Deli & Fine Meats in Goshen takes about 13 hours to smoke and required less than ten minutes to eat.
Opened in 2007 at 231 Chicago Ave., Dana J’s Deli is the Gall family’s answer to a void in the local meat scene.
“At that time, another grocery store closed that had made everything local in town and we decided it would be a good time,” said co-owner and namesake Dana Gall. “We wanted to do catering and thought the deli would be a good fit as well, so we decided to give it a go.”
Gall, along with his sister Stephanie, mother Cheryl, father Andy and the Dana J’s staff make most everything from scratch in-store. Dana said about half of the business they receive is a result of the restaurant’s catering operation.
- RELATED: Goshen Dining Days 2015: Honey’s Frozen Desserts was a sweet deal on a cold day, April 23, 2015
They carve up Boar’s Head meats for the barbecue and other deli offerings, and even sell their own dry rub.
The open-seating dining area is a spacious contrast to the tight quarters of some independent restaurants. I stopped by pretty late in the lunch hour, so only a handful of guests were finishing their meals as I walked through the doors.
“We’ve been busy this week, which is weird,” Dana said. “They’re not necessarily getting the Dining Days specials, but they’re in because of Dining Days. You can just tell they are.”
The Dana J’s employee manning the deli cases was prompt to offer her attention and guidance through the a la carte menu.
Pork ribs and chicken legs are smoked over apple wood for two to three hours and the aforementioned brisket comprised the pick-three barbecue sampler special during Goshen Dining Days.
Each was prepared with Dana J’s Country Blend dry rub in the style of Memphis barbecue — no sauce.
Dana said the smoking chips are from discarded trees cut from Kercher’s Sunrise Orchard in Goshen.
Of the three meats the brisket stood out, exploding with a burst of flavor that reminded me a bit of beef jerky. The cuts of brisket and the ribs were a bit more dry than I’m used to (compared to those of, say, Pitts BBQ or Frankie’s BBQ of South Bend), but I enjoyed them all equally regardless.
The pick-three barbecue sampler allowed for two sides. My square of sweet corn casserole had a bit more sweetness than I expected (thanks to that famous Indiana sweet corn), which was a welcome counter to the spice and smoked flavors of the meats.
A portion of bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes also piled into a stomach already full enough of delicious pork and chicken to incite a PETA protest.
Although there are more established barbecue spots around, barbecue is a treat at Dana J’s Deli — not something you can get any day. So, take the opportunity to give it a try during Goshen Dining Days, which ends Saturday, April 25.
But if the family puts as much heart into all of their offerings as they did the barbecue special (and I suspect they do), it’s worth a visit any day.