Once a year the family goes on vacation, at the beach, and I wind up buying a cheap portable grill for around twenty bucks that we use for the week and I leave for other renters to use at the house, seeing as how there is no grill at this beach rental. Considering I would use portable barbecues for camping, tailgating and other portable affairs I decided to look into what was available in the market for portable charcoal barbecue grills.
My criteria for something like this would be compact, preferably it would pack up into a self contained case but we can always figure something out. It would be nice to be easily cleaned as campsites may not have running water at some of the places I got to. I like a multi-function grill so I can do some barbecue grilling, baking and smoking; my grill of choice at the house is a Big Green Egg. This is one time I do not need to be on the bleeding cutting edge. Cooking in devices that use charcoal to heat has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. I think the designs on means of cooking with charcoal are pretty well established by now. Oh yes and number one is it must be a charcoal cooker. I love cooking with charcoal as I can taste gas on the food and I do not want to get into a habit of having to run across town to get a refill for the mini propane container the gas portable grills have.
With all that in mind I started looking at the old reliable Weber grill website. I think for the money Weber makes about the best grills around both Weber gas grills and Weber charcoal grills. Weber portable charcoal grills com in two small versions of their infamous kettle style grills that are made well and, for the price, about the best out there. These grills have the basic design that has delivered successful grilling experiences time and time again. Weber also makes a square grill with lid that is a little larger unit. All of these products are well made, have the Weber design and name behind them and are priced very well for the quality items they are. The Smokey Joe goes for around 30 to 35 dollars and the Weber Go-Anywhere is right at 50 dollars.
Next I looked into what makers are calling a notebook portable charcoal grill. The design on this grill is such that the firebox and legs fold up flat in a scissors like configuration. The grill sits on top and that is basically it. These come with a carrying case and would be a good for grilling only as there is no lid that comes with it. The portability is very attractive and the price is around 35 dollars.
Cuisinart has a recent entry into this class of barbecue grills with the Cuisinart Gratelifter portable charcoal grill. The Cuisinart grill is portable, well constructed and works great. It does come with a higher price tag (about 150 US dollars) than most but should prove to be a reliable tool for years to come.
Then I came upon a well designed, self contained portable charcoal barbecue grill that really caught my eye. The Cobb Grill is a grill that is very similar in design to the larger komado cookers. There is a fire box which has a basket that you put 8 charcoal briquettes in which provide up to 3 hours of cooking time. The food sits on a grill above and a dome fits over the grilling area to help with containing the heat. An open bottom area allows for convection to aid in the cooking process. The outside area of the grill is kept cool by the modular design of the grill. The pricing is about double the other grills.
So when it came to deciding I went back to my initial criteria. The Weber’s are definitely the right price and quality of make. Weber’s were not self contained units that would be easy to carry. I have a truck but the legs would have to come off, etc. The notebook grill is portable but does not allow me to get creative in the type of cooking I want to do (i.e. smoke, grill, bake, etc.). The Cobb grill barbecue portable, although more than I wanted to spend has all the features I am looking for and wound up being the one I ordered. There are many other offerings in portable such as the Big Green Egg mini portable charcoal grill so do your research before deciding. Stay tuned for a review of the Cobb Grill once I get it and use it for a while.