Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Review
Cons: Handles get hot, vents are hard to adjust, requires more preparation than gas grills
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Weber Go-Anywhere charcoal grill brings to the table the same durability and quality construction as the company's other grill selections. But this offering comes in a compact, transportable package that can be easily set up on tables — or the ground — anywhere. If open pit-cooking over charcoal isn't your thing, Weber offers essentially the same grill in a gas version.
Grilling over fire and charcoal is a culinary art form, and as such cannot (and should not) be directly compared to grilling over a gas flame. However, we found that the Go-Anywhere grill consistently stacked up against the gas-guzzling competition in terms of output power and cook times.
The rectangular frame is designed with a deep basin where one can build a sizable coal bed capable of producing on-point grilling temperatures. Using our senses (read: hands), experience with cooking over open flames, and the accuracy of an infrared thermometer, we found that this grill achieved and maintained consistent temperatures time-and-again throughout our testing.
In our peak-power test, the grilling surface of the Go-Anywhere easily reached the magic, Maillard-threshold of 330℉ within a matter of minutes, topping out around 455℉ after 10 minutes. After cooking for an additional 20 minutes, the internal grill temperature still measured 354℉! This heat spectrum, from approximately 300℉ up to 450℉, is the ideal temperature range for most grilled foods, from searing red meat and crisping chicken to roasting veggies.
Thanks to its well-insulated, enamel-coated cast iron construction, this grill is also capable of maintaining the temperatures required for low-and-slow cooking. While it takes some time to learn the adjustments to ventilation and size of the coal bed, your time spent is well worth it for perfectly cooked, tinfoil-wrapped foods like fish and potatoes.
The Go-Anywhere offers a different layout from the clamshell shape of many charcoal grills. That classic design limits the size of the coal bed by concentrating them into a smaller area, simultaneously increasing heat output and insulation of the coals to help extend burn times. Alternatively, the Go-Anywhere is designed with a coal bed that exactly matches the size of the cooking surface area. Thanks to the inset depth of the bottom grate, this grill holds a deep, broad coal bed that is still capable of producing consistent temperatures over a long period of time.
This allows you to control the overall maximum temperature and pile or remove coals to create particular heat zones across the grilling surface, helping you better achieve that perfectly browned cut of meat. Add adjustable vents on the top and sides, combine that with a sizable cooking area, and it is possible to tailor the heat of this charcoal grill to hit the target temperature of each and every piece of food. A little experience helps here, as there is a learning curve to cooking on charcoal.
We loved the ability to manipulate the coal bed to accommodate the temperature preferences of specific foods. On the left, we were able to sear a steak, in the middle blister peppers, and on the right slow-roast an onion — all at the same time. As mentioned above, the Go-Anywhere grill boasts impressive heat retention, thanks to an enamel-coated cast iron construction. Even with small coal beds that would normally extinguish in another charcoal grill, this well-built barbeque was able to maintain a consistent temperature for low-and-slow cooking.
While we admire the adjustable vents, it took a few incidents of initially smothering the coal bed to learn from our mistakes. Additionally, the vents themselves are very tightly fit to the grill frame and get extremely hot while cooking. It was nearly impossible to manipulate them with tongs, and required gloves to adjust.
The most extraordinary element about the Go-Anywhere grill is the impressive performance it is able to achieve out of such a simple design. While this grill requires some assembly out of the box, once in-action, it is user-friendly.
This grill might be small but still feels substantial. With pivoting legs that smartly latch into the lid — locking both the legs and lid in place for carrying — this grill packs down to just over 2 cubic feet, slightly larger than your average piece of carry-on luggage. A friend noted that packed down, this grill flat-out looks portable, and we noted that it fit snuggly even in a standard vehicle's backseat footwell. Most importantly, it keeps all of the coals and ash securely inside during transport.
Unpacked, the Go-Anywhere grill lives up to its name. The legs elevate it nicely above whatever surface you're cooking on, and the sturdy frame stands as nicely on grass as it does on a table. Our only suggestion to you — and criticism of the grill itself — is to be careful of the handles. Although the handles are glass-reinforced nylon that should stay insulated from the heat of the grill, we noticed that they tend to get very hot while cooking, so give these a few minutes to cool off before trying to pack-up or move the grill.
For a relatively compact grill, the Go-Anywhere manages to incorporate a respectable cooking surface. The grilling area measures 140 square-inches, which translates to just under one square-foot of surface area.
This is actually slightly smaller than what the manufacturer claims on their website. They also claim that the rectangular surface is large enough to fit four, medium-sized steaks — but we would argue there is enough space to properly cook those four steaks, plus some grilled veggies in between.
We really appreciated the ability to move food around the nicely-sized grill top to properly cook according to the position of particular heat zones. The plated-steel grate sits comfortably on a lip built into the grill body and does not shift at all during cooking — another plus compared to other charcoal grills on the market.
As an open-flame grill, you can confidently scrape the relatively non-stick grate in-between courses for a fresh cooking surface or easily wash with soap and water afterward.
The Go-Anywhere is topped with a good-sized lid that affords ample grilling space — a bonus for cooking out in less than desirable weather conditions. The lid is built with the same enamel-coated cast iron as the body, so you won't have to worry about it blowing away if the wind happens to kick up.
As long as you manage the dampers and vents well, we found it easy to cook with the Go-Anywhere in the wind. The depth of the charcoal grate made it easier to get a chimney lit, and a well-insulated grill body kept the coals burning nicely once they were in place.
Even during extended cook times — like for baked potatoes — this grill paced itself well with a consistent internal temperature without much loss to convective cooling. The Go-Anywhere also features a hanger built into the lid, so that you don't have to find a place to set it down while cooking, and at the same time creating a wind-wall.
For the size, price, and performance, we're not sure you can find a more valuable, more easily portable charcoal grill. From picnics to tailgates, from backyards to apartment porches, the durable Go-Anywhere grill is bound to become a mainstay of your outdoor cooking setup. If you appreciate the art of cooking over charcoal and want to share your talent, this is the grill to take with you on your travels.
We love it when simplicity and performance come together in perfect harmony. The Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill has a few thoughtful design aspects, but overall, it has no fancy qualities. It is simply a solid, well-designed, charcoal grill that is capable of producing delicious food. Most importantly, all of this comes in a compact, portable package, so that you can share the joys of pit-cooking with the world.
— Aaron Rice