It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to sit down and do a BBQ restaurant review. It’s not that I haven’t eaten at any BBQ joints. On the contrary, I’ve eaten at my fair share of them over the last few months. I confess that I’ve been lazy and just haven’t taken the time to write them down. It all works out in the end, however… I can roll them all into one great big epic post!
First up: the great state of Montana.
This has to be one of the most beautiful states in the US. And I’m fortunate in that the majority of my team is based here, so I get to travel there quite a bit! As I’ve talked about in the past, there are only 2 BBQ joints that I know of in Bozeman – Famous Dave’s and Bar 3 BBQ. I had previously checked out Famous Dave’s, so I decided to give Bar 3 a shot. While Bar 3 BBQ has two locations (one in Bozeman, MT and one in Belgrade, MT), I went to the Bozeman location.
The interior has the feel of a real dive and keeps to the overall rustic feel that is a prominent theme throughout a lot of restaurants throughout the area.
So what does one do when faced with indecision on what to order? Why go with a combo plate, of course! So I ordered pork, chicken, and burnt ends with sides of Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas, rice, and sausage) and green chile cheese grits as my sides. And I got chopped pork and a chicken quarter (with a breast and wing), but those weren’t burnt ends that I got. Instead it looked like slices off of the brisket point rather than the cubes of meat one associates with burnt ends. Nevertheless, it was quite tasty! The pork was not dry at all, and the brisket reminded me of the brisket at Mac’s Speed Shop in Charlotte, NC. But what was most intriguing was the green chile cheese grits… that was like CRACK!
My next trip had me heading down to Atlanta for a meeting. I drove from Charlotte to Atlanta for this trip, but I had to go through South Carolina first…
And that gave me the chance to stop at a joint I’ve had on my list for quite some time – Henry’s Smokehouse. Henry’s has three different locations in the Greenville-Spartanburg metropolitan area, but I stopped at the “mothership” location off of Wade Hampton Blvd.
Henry’s Smokehouse is owned and run by one of my good friends, Tiger O’Rourke. And I have several friends who have repeatedly said that this is the best BBQ in that area. The Wade Hampton Blvd. location is a cozy place with outdoor seating and a hometown feel.
And they’re cookin’ their BBQ the old fashioned way – low and slow over a wood fire. Not a drop of gas in this place.
Again, I couldn’t decide what to get. So I went with a combo platter of ribs and pork. I often ask to be surprised on the sides, so I was given baked beans and potato salad.
The pork… amazing! There’s no other way to put it. The ribs were flavorful but fell right off the bone. In talking with Tiger, I mentioned that, and he said that’s how most of his clientele (non-BBQ snobs, unlike me) like their ribs. Having seen him on the competition circuit, I know he knows how to cook a good competition rib. And the sides hit the spot as well.
Onward to Georgia!!
After arriving and getting checked in to my hotel, I got in touch with my boss to go to dinner. After consulting with friends in the area, I ended up going to Fox Bros. BBQ.
The decor – definitely dive-ish. Reminded me a lot of Mac’s Speed Shop in Charlotte, NC.
Doing some pre-trip research, I learned that the guys here had their origins in Texas. Texas? That’s just begging me to try the brisket. So I went with another combo plate (naturally) of spare ribs and sliced brisket (with fried okra and “Fox-a-roni” as my sides — “Fox-a-roni” being a very interesting blend of mac & cheese and Brunswick stew). Honestly, I could have done without the sides. Not that they weren’t tasty (they were), but the meat was OMG GOOD!!! This may have very well been the best brisket I have ever eaten in a restaurant. There, I said it!
The meat was perfectly smoked and absolutely tender and flavorful!
On my way home, I took a quick detour and drove up to Woodstock, GA to check out Bub-ba-Q. There are locations in Woodstock, GA and Jasper, GA.
You walk in and immediately know that you’re in the presence of a BBQ champion! The restaurant, owned by William “Bubba” Latimer and his wife, showcases numerous trophies won by Bub-ba-Q out on the competition circuit.
Once again, a combo plate was my choice – this one had ribs and pork with baked beans and corn fritters. I also splurged and added some brisket to my plate. Everything was absolutely tasty here, although the ribs were almost too tender. And the brisket tasted very much like the brisket I get out on the competition circuit. Excellent tenderness and flavors.
And I had to have a happy ending with some banana pudding! This is classic banana pudding here!
Fast forward a few weeks… and it’s off to Philadelphia for another meeting!!
With this trip coming off of the heels of episode 3 of season 4 of BBQ Pitmasters, I had to drop in to the restaurant of one of the contestants – Fat Jack’s BBQ.
Very clean interior here… and very friendly staff!
I came in for a very late lunch / early dinner and decided (again) to go with a combo plate. I got a little bit of everything this time – burnt ends, brisket slices, chopped pork, and sliced pork belly with several sides. All had excellent flavor. Maybe a touch dry, but that’s because I came in at an odd hour when the lunch meats were still being used. Had I come in at the prime time hour for dinner, I’m sure it would’ve been extremely moist.
I even had the chance to chat with Glenn, the pitmaster, and his son Kevin, who’s the general manager. We talked for at least a couple of hours on all things BBQ – including the show, its impact on the restaurants, future plans, and so on and so on. I thoroughly enjoyed this visit!
Well… I hope you enjoyed reading about this! Now off to find more road trips and more opportunities to chow down on some Q!