Friday, February 15, 2008

The BBQ Trail


When we made our One Lap of America two years ago, my wife and I were determined to eat as much regional cuisine as possible. And by "regional cuisine" we mean "barbecue". I'm a pulled pork man but my wife is constantly in search of the perfect ribs: short ribs, not baby backs, dry rub, not wet sauce, and most importantly never, never, boiled. It's harder than you think. Here's a run down of some of the places we hit:

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Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue Kansas City

Kansas City is beef and Jack Stack Barbecue is ribs. This suspiciously elegant restaurant is down by the railyards and serves all varieties of barbecue and ribs. We had some sampler plates and were wowed by both the pork and beef. Still, a barbecue place shouldn't take reservations. I have a saying that it isn't authentic barbecue unless you endanger your life getting there.

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Stubb's Barbecue Austin, Texas

Right off the highway, Stubb's is part barbecue joint, part honkey tonk. They have a huge double high stage area and a concert amphitheater out back. We just stopped in while passing through but still found some great sauces and delicious side dishes.

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Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse Dallas, Texas

The original Sonny Bryan's is just a shack which closes up when they run out for the day, but fortunately they have stand alone locations at various spots around Dallas. We found this one in a grocery store strip mall and were still satisfied with the large portions and good variety.

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Central BBQ Memphis, Tennessee

There are plenty of place to eat on Tacky Tourist District Beale Street, but we went further afield and found Central BBQ which had a funky hippie-fied feel. The open patio was the only place to even come close to avoiding the thick heavy cigarette smoke indoors. The patio was also where the country folk band was playing and I am always in favor of live music while dining. The food was only so-so, but it sure touched the spirit of what is real barbecue.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: Where's your favorite barbecue? Extra credit if you can recommend someplace in Atlanta.

5 comments:

Josh said...

If you ever find yourself in Oakland, California, I can recommend Flint's. I used to live right around the corner from what I'm pretty sure is their original location -- on Shattuck Avenue right on the Oakland/Berkeley border. This was a ramshackle shack enclosing a grubby counter (no sit-down area, this) and an ENORMOUS oven and a huge chimney -- you could smell the cooking meat all over the neighborhood, which was awesome. Sauce is great, and I was a particular fan of "link", which was basically a mass of sort-of connected sausage that you buy by the pound.

A little Internet research shows that while the Shattuck location is still open, "zoning regulations" (read: local hippie vegans who can't stand the pork smell and bitched) means that the proud oven now is cold; they cook the meat elsewhere and ship it to their various retail locations. I'd still go to Shattuck for the charming no-atmosphere atmosphere, though.

Josh

Josh said...

PS You can actually find the Stubbs sauce in Baltimore Safeways -- I'm a fan. I didn't realize there was an associated restuarant...

Summer said...

I buy the Stubbs sauce... the chicken marinade is EXCELLENT.

but THE ABSOLUTE BEST place for BBQ near Austin is The Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX. It's about 45 minutes outside of Austin and it's worth the trip.

Jeff said...

We went to Famous Dave's last night. Not bad for a chain, but the private places like you're describing are always my first choice. Unfortunately there is no good BBQ in these here parts.

Cedar said...

I haven't been to the place in years, so it might not still be around, but in Atlanta, there's a bbq joint called the One Star--amazing ribs, and fabulously spicy chicken (altho, I know--who goes to a bbq place and gets chicken).