The manufacturer of this grill, the Portable Kitchen Grills, was founded in Texas, in 1952. It originated in the same year as Weber, which is yet another well-known name in the world of grilling equipment. Even though ownership and production changed a lot of hands in the last decades, the company is finally making a comeback.
The design of their grills, however, didn’t change much since the 1950s. Their newest model is a classy throwback resurrected from 1952. Its name is the Original PK Grill and Smoker, and it’s a model that undoubtedly deserves a more in-depth look.
This cast-aluminum, rustproof charcoal grill sports a flat bottom. It’s something that makes it suitable for indirect cooking and smoking – you only have to push the coals to one side. It also has adjustable dampers under the fire and in the lid. Furthermore, the oven can be lifted for tailgating, camping, or cleaning. There’s also a side shelf and a bottom shelf.
Other advantages include a time-tested, durable design, a hinged nickel-plated cooking grate, as well as the ease of assembly. Unfortunately, there are also a couple of downsides (more on them later), but they pale in comparison with the unit’s impressive features. Let’s take a closer look:
This is a charcoal grill and smoker manufactured by Portable Kitchen Grills (Arkansas).
- Retro design and styling
- Durable and rust-resistant construction
- Square shape allows two-zone cooking
- Can be used for grilling, smoking, roasting, and baking
- Cooks at high and low temperatures
- Easy to assemble and use
- 10-year warranty
The versatility that comes with this model is something that’s quite difficult to find on the market. As it can grill, smoke, bake, and roast, it’s the only device you’ll need for your backyard cooking sessions.
Why Get It?
In case you’re searching for a genuinely durable grill, you won’t have to look any further than this model. The fact that the Original PK Grill and Smoker was built to last is apparent right from the start. It was made from cast heavy-duty aluminum, which makes it quite different compared to most other grills we’ve reviewed.
The result of this is a grill that could serve you your entire life, allowing you to pass it to your children. The aluminum body of this appliance is more rustproof and rugged than the porcelain-enameled steel, found on many competing models. It should also be mentioned that the model maintains the original 50s design. This classic look is bound to bring nostalgic memories to buyers of a certain age.
Versatility is yet another advantage of this grill. Not only can it be used for grilling, but also for smoking and roasting. It can even be used for baking, as it is capable of holding and dispersing heat in an even manner. The model is also highly portable – the user can easily take the body out of the cart. This will allow you to take the grill to all of your camping, tailgating, and outdoor adventures.
With aluminum being an efficient conductor of heat, the exterior of this grill & smoker tends to become quite hot. This means that you’ll have to be extra careful when cooking, especially with children or guests around. Unlike most modern grills that use stainless or coated steel, this one uses aluminum to retain the original 1950s look and feel. The excessive exterior heat is the downside of this, but at least you won’t have to worry about rusting.
One of the first things to notice about the model’s interior is the grilling grate. Unfortunately, the grate was manufactured from nickel-plated steel. Since it tends to rot and rust with time, you’ll probably need to have it replaced after some time. Fortunately, stainless-steel grates can be purchased separately directly from PK.
We were, however, pleased to see the hinges being a part of the cast aluminum lid. This means that they will not wear over time. The fact that the model is so durable and long-lasting is further enhanced by the accompanying 10-year warranty. This is very impressive and shows that PK actually cares about its customers and that they’re confident in the durability of their own products.
Ease of Use
The Original PK Grill and Smoker has a simple and straightforward design. This makes it suitable for both the amateurs and seasoned grillers. The unit’s rectangular frame allows for easy two-zone or three-zone cooking. Along with grilling, roasting, baking, and smoking, it can also be used for low & slow and hot & fast heat.
Assembly is a breeze thanks to the simple design and easy-to-figure parts. The PK Grill and Smoker doesn’t weigh a ton and can be effortlessly broken down for storage. The two durable wheels will let you move the unit around your backyard whenever needed.
As far as the grilling goes, the model is capable of making food for 10-15 people at once. However, the lack of an ashtray makes the cleanup somewhat messy. The user needs to take out the grates and dump the ashes from the body. This lack of an ash-catcher is perhaps our biggest complaint – it’s a real inconvenience that could turn off many potential buyers.
Heat control, on the other hand, is super easy with this model. Two dampers on the bottom and two on the top allow for accurate heat control. Their location allows the air to flow through the grill as evenly as possible. As you can already guess, this is extremely important if you want to prepare tasty, delicious food.
Longevity & Price
There aren’t many charcoal, gas, or Kamado grills on the market that could outlast the Original PK Grill and Smoker. Furthermore, this appliance includes all the features of the grills mentioned above, turning it into a highly versatile piece of cooking equipment. Its cast-aluminum frame is not only rust-resistant but also helps with constant and even heat distribution. As we said, the only thing you’ll eventually have to replace is the grilling grate.
Price-wise, the model might seem somewhat expensive for what it is. However, it could last your entire adult life – its longevity is undoubtedly one of its most impressive traits. The warranty itself (10 years) undoubtedly backs up the model’s durability.
Pros & Cons
- Classic design – user-friendly operation
- Stylish retro look
- Multi-functional appliance
- Time-tested, robust design
- Easy to control & maintain cooking temperature
- Easy to assemble & disassemble
- Portable – rubber wheels included
- 10-year warranty
- Overall 80% 80%
- No ash catcher
- Lack of modern features
“I purchased this grill last year, and I can safely say that it’s the best one I’ve owned so far. The PK Grill easily became my go-to grill, as it holds the heat without any issues and gets a great smoked flavor into every meal I’m preparing. Grilled burgers, salmon, pork chops, brats, steaks…the possibilities are endless”
David’s testimonial confirms that the Original PK Grill and Smoker is a highly versatile appliance. It can be used for a variety of cooking operations, and is, therefore, the only device of this type an outdoor cooking enthusiast will ever need.
What to Watch Out For
No Ash Catcher
The fact that this model comes without an ash catcher is probably its most significant downside. It’s a standard on most devices of this type, and the lack of it presents a real inconvenience.
However, the workaround is quite simple – you’ll have to place a disposable aluminum pan underneath it to collect the ashes.
Lack of modern features
This model is quite old fashioned, with many advanced features being completely absent. For example, it comes without a digital display or a thermometer. Although stylish, the model’s retro design is also a primitive one and could be a turnoff for many potential buyers. Those who used a modern, feature-packed grill before should probably look elsewhere.
A Piece of Advice
As we said, the standard nickel-plated steel grate that comes with this grill rots out. This means that you’ll need to replace it periodically. If you decide to go with this grill, we advise purchasing a stainless steel upgrade, which can be ordered separately.
Another piece of advice would be to prepare a disposable aluminum pan for the ash collection. As we said, this model comes without an ash catcher, which can make the cleanup quite messy.
Overall, the Original PK Grill and Smoker is an ideal choice for every grilling enthusiast that prizes versatility, durability, as well as mobility. It is easy to put together and break down; rain and moisture can’t damage it; while its heat control system is both easy to manage and very effective.
Moreover, the model is incredibly portable thanks to its sturdy rubber wheels. This makes it a fantastic option for camping trips. The stylish retro look is an added bonus – as a throwback to the 1950s, the model undoubtedly possesses an attractive and eye-catching look.
All of this shows that the PK Grill is highly popular for plenty of good reasons. If you’re a beginner or would like to own a grill with a classic design, you can’t go wrong by buying this one.