The Wasena City Tap Room is the latest restaurant by owners Doug & Evie Robison. They’ve had a hand in various restaurants in the Roanoke Valley over the years and are most known for Wildflour Market & Bakery, a fantastic restaurant in Roanoke’s Old Southwest Neighborhood. The Tap Room is meant to bring a great selection of craft beers to the area while also serving delicious food.
I love the atmosphere of this restaurant. It’s relatively small but still comfortable and the design is beautiful, with an exposed ceiling that helps the space feel bigger and gives it a very modern, rustic look. The bar is classy and offers the nightlife experience Roanoke sorely needs - bars that are a step up from being trashy but not trying to be overly fancy. They also have a nice patio space and it’s a great spot to hang out when the weather is nice.
I’ve been to the Tap Room on three different occasions and I’ve ordered pork on two of my visits. On the first trip, I ordered a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries. For my second time, I tried the carnitas tacos with a side of black beans. And for the most recent meal, I tried the Carolina Carnitas Sandwich with jalapeno coleslaw and a side of sweet potato fries.
Considering this is a blog with BBQ in the title and that’s what I had during my most latest visit to the Tap Room, that’s what I’ll focus on for this review.
The menu describes the sandwich as being “shredded pork carnitas with a drizzle of Carolina barbecue sauce and our creamy jalapeno coleslaw.”
The sandwich is beautiful when it’s plated. The pulled pork with the sauce offers a wonderful Amber color and the coleslaw features bright chunks of cabbage that really make this an appetizing dish. I also appreciate how it’s served on a toasted bun. Toasting the bun is a nice extra touch.
The pulled pork had good flavor. It wasn’t overly sauced and the meat was the main ingredient you tasted in every bite. It wasn’t quite as tender as I prefer and I wish there would have been a bit more smoke, but it’s still a nice job with pulled pork. The jalapeno coleslaw is what separates this from many other BBQ sandwiches I’ve had. Typically, coleslaw is something that brings sweetness to a pulled pork sandwich. Because of the jalapenos, this coleslaw brings a combination of sweet and spicy to the sandwich. I wouldn’t make this a substitute for regular coleslaw all the time, but it’s a great change of pace.
I finished the meal very happy with the sandwich and comfortable recommending it to anyone who doesn’t mind a little heat.
I salute the creativity and originality of using a different type of coleslaw to make this dish stand out. Giving it a sort of Mexican twist by calling it “Carolina Carnitas” and using jalapeno coleslaw is also very unique for a restaurant in this area.
I hope Roanoke gets more restaurants like Wasena City Tap Room in the near future. It features a new type of atmosphere that’s been tough to find in the Roanoke region and they’re combining it with tasty food. And if other restaurants come along, I hope they try to make their own creative versions of BBQ sandwiches. I’ll be more than happy to try them all.
Wasena City Tap Room
806 Wasena Avenue SW
Roanoke, VA 24015