The Rebirth of a Classic Grill

Mj 618_348_tk vintage grilling
Courtesy PK Grills

While some grill enthusiasts are spending thousands of dollars on stainless steel electric grills with amenities like drawers to hide tools and a rotisserie system, real backyard chefs know that you can’t beat the classic, old-school route involving some charcoal and maybe some wood chips over a fire you start yourself. And for those purists, the rebirth of the PK Charcoal Grill & Smoker is a very welcomed moment that all grilling fans should take note of. 

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The original “Portable Kitchen” grill might be too familiar to anybody that grew up eating hot dogs on the Fourth of July in the 1950s and 1960s. Created by Hilton Meigs of Tyler, Texas, the aluminum grill and smoker is considered by many enthusiasts to be the best when it comes to charcoal grills, but hasn’t been produced since the mid-1970s after a fire knocked the business out for good. From then on, the grill became something of a regional legend, mostly in the South, where fans would pay top dollar for originals at auctions or estate sales.

Paul James is one of those grill fanatics. When he found an original Portable Kitchen at a garage sale in 1998, he was instantly hooked. After he took the vintage model home and used it, he decided to purchase the name and began putting together his own grills using the same design. He reintroduced it as the PK into a market that has seen countless advances since the last Portable Kitchens were being sold in stores. So how does it compare?

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Simply put, the PK Grill & Smoker is worth every penny of the $370 price tag. The cast aluminum body is durable, and with two wheels and its compact size, it’s also portable. The PK can go along to cook sausages if you’re tailgating, but the real magic is that you can bring along a pork shoulder or some brisket and smoke it while you and your buddies drink beer in the middle of the woods. The grill’s build, low and deep, means it gets hotter faster, there’s really no fuss, and it’s easy to clean. And the sleek design of the American-made PK is really all you could ever ask for in a grill, and for a lot less than you’d pay for most newer models. It’s proof that the classics never really go out of style.

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