Food at Mike's BBQ in South Philly Credit: Instagram / @omaalex

Updated 12:45 p.m.

The best barbecue in Philadelphia is not easy to lay hands on.

It’s found in a tiny East Passyunk-area storefront slightly off the main drag, and only available from noon to sellout, which often happens hours before the shop’s official 6 p.m. closing time. On weekends, a queue snakes out the door and wraps around the corner.

Yes, Mike’s BBQ really is that good — and there’s a chance to try it this week without standing in line. It’s what we’ll be serving at the Who’s Next First Responders happy hour on June 12.

What makes the South Philly joint’s meat special? Self-taught pitmaster Michael Strauss, who also co-owns Taproom on 19th, is a stickler for quality, while also being a fan of experimentation.

His juicy smoked chicken and candy-sweet spare ribs earned a Philly Mag Best of Philly, and his brisket cheesesteak (with housemade “whiz”) scored a shoutout from The Inquirer’s Craig LaBan. Food & Wine named Mike’s tops in all of Pennsylvania, and his Deep Fried Spliff was a huge hit with rapper-slash-TV chef Action Bronson.

We won’t have that over the top creation on Wednesday at Bok, but we will have plenty to chow down on, including something for people on plant-based diets. On the menu:

  • Smoked brisket
  • Smoked chicken
  • Smoked lentils (vegan, except there is honey in the BBQ sauce)
  • Mac ‘n’ cheese
  • Collards and beans

For dessert, we’ll have the perfect chaser for ‘cue in the form of classic sprinkle cupcakes by Bonnie Sarana Noll of the excellent Vanilya Bakery (also on East Passyunk).

Your $25 ticket includes all that plus beer/wine/soda. Bonus: Behind the bar will be Felicia D’Ambrosio, partner in Federal Donuts, resident beer expert at Monk’s Cafe and all-around cool Philadelphian.

Other cool Philadelphians you’ll meet that night? The impressive group of first responders we showcased in the latest edition of Who’s Next. Our 13 honorees are paramedics and firefighters, recent grads and city officials, counselors and coordinators of homeless services. In times of crisis, they’re the ones who vow to keep us safe.

The party in their honor is happening at Bok, the repurposed high school that’s turned into a hub for creative professionals and entrepreneurs. We’re taking over a ground floor spot that has a separate entrance, on Dudley Street — so head there instead of the main door on 9th Street.

After the event, everyone’s invited upstairs to check out the famous views at Bok Bar and the gorgeous interior design across the way at Irwin’s, where all ticketholders will get 10% off all night.

To recap: your $25 ticket (here) gets you Mike’s BBQ, drinks and a fun night with some of Philly’s best. See you there.

Danya Henninger is director and editor of Billy Penn at WHYY, where she oversees the team, all editorial decisions, and all revenue generation — including the membership program. She is a former food...