The Roadhouse comes to the Ritz

Tina Miller and Tara Reynolds whip up Southern comfort food with a kick.

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It’s February on Martha’s Vineyard, and as the days begin to grow longer and the soft scent of spring greets me when I step out on my front porch in the morning, I yearn for the days of barbecues and Frisbee with friends at Waban Park.

At the Ritz, Tina Miller and Tara Reynolds served up some of that smoky and savory taste that makes me reminisce about days spent digging my feet in the sand at State Beach or playing my guitar in the front yard as Dad fires up the grill.

The Roadhouse-inspired cuisine was part of a weekly pop-up dining event that the Ritz welcomed the past few weeks. This one featured some down-South favorites with a modern New England kick.

It was a packed house at the Island’s favorite dive, with folks laughing and telling stories under strings of fairy lights. 

The atmosphere felt like a neighborhood cookout, with groups of friends and relatives scooching down in their seats to make room for new acquaintances and fresh conversation.

But the real highlight of the evening was the delicious food: melt-in-your-mouth ribs, refreshingly crunchy coleslaw, warm and crumbly cornbread, and even some vegan options.

Photo editor Lexi Pline and I were able to snag a corner table where we could see Tina (a good friend, and an editor of our Edible Vineyard publication) racing back and forth in the kitchen, very much in her element.

Lexi was surprised to find multiple vegan options on the menu, and immediately picked out the Vegan Broccoli Mac and Cheese ($8).

She said the macaroni was creamy, with just the right amount of crunch from the crisp broccoli.

In addition, she decided to try a twist on the normal coleslaw, which consisted of watercress, scallions, and red cabbage ($6).

Not one to complain about her food touching, Lexi said she had the slaw mixed with the mac and cheese, creating a wonderfully complementary combination.

Overall, Lexi said she was happy there were vegan options (she is a vegetarian) and said the food was on par with some of the Southern food she has had in the past, deeming it “New England Southern.”

When it was my turn to order, all the mouthwatering menu options caused me to vacillate (and salivate). I was stuck between barbecue chicken and barbecue pork ribs.

Eventually, I went with the St. Louis–Style Ribs slathered with Roadhouse sauce ($14) — because what’s a Southern-style night out without ribs?

There was a crispy glaze on the ribs that created a satisfying crunch whenever I took a bite, and for the price, the massive plate of meat was a steal. 

For those with a sweet tooth, some classic Southern desserts on the menu included a dark rum-glazed gingerbread with light whipped cream ($9), and a vegan almond pound cake with freshly grated lemon zest and coconut whipped cream ($9).

Overall, the extensive pop-up menu offered a little bit of everything, and it sure got me in the mood for yummy summer eats. 

Check out the Ritz website to watch out for more dining-out options coming up at theritzmv.com.