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Tasty Tuesday: TJ’s Backyard BBQ adds authenticity, incredible flavor to Roanoke food scene

In just two years, TJ’s has become a booming business in the Star City

ROANOKE, Va. – BBQ is a popular choice on Tasty Tuesday, but it can be hard to come by in the Roanoke Valley. As our In Your Town series continues, we’re highlighting TJ’s Backyard BBQ — a Star City joint that came onto the scene in a unique way.

Owner, Troy Conley, says it all started when they, “Just did it from the house in the front yard. The community enjoyed it, so it started growing as we did it every week. And then it just transpired into a business.”

Conley has been cooking for his family for the entirety of his kids’ lives and says, “They enjoy my cooking. To be able to bring it to the public and they enjoy it, that’s something special right there.”

Part of what makes this special is the fact that it’s something familiar to so many. He tells us, “It gives you that home feeling…just being at home with your friends. You get that barbeque smell. It’s authentic.”

That smell and mission is what keeps people like Melvin Wilson coming back for more.

Wilson says, “It brings you back to the old days when you used to backyard BBQ, so that’s a good thing.”

Another good thing is the number of options you have to choose from. Conley says that the menu is all thanks to the customers. Of course, you have your favorites.

He lists them off, “Chicken and ribs gotta be number one. And then brisket. Then we’ve got the baked beans, baked macaroni and cheese. I mean…everything sells.”

You can see why everything sells. Conley smokes everything right outside the restaurant’s doors. Each type of meat glistens in the morning sun, as he sprays it all down with a mixture of vinegar and pineapple. This gives each item its own sweet and savory identity.

Once the clock strikes 12, the line starts out the door. Folks like Horace Irving have been eager to get back to TJ’s.

“I’ve been waiting to come back. Now I’m here. I’m ready to eat. Seasoned upright, like it’s supposed to be…and it’s good.”

Aside from the fact that this is good, quality BBQ, the price is reasonable. Melvin Wilson summarized it perfectly, saying, “Good price and good food…so why not support?”

Personally, I’ve never had ribs with as much flavor as this. There’s no Kansas City, North Carolina, Memphis, Texas or South Carolina style to this. It’s Conley’s unique, backyard style.

For the menu, make sure to check out their site. Also, be sure to check out what they post on Facebook.

About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.