Tag Archives: bbq

Q39 (Kansas City, MO)

It’s hard not to notice that over a good fraction of the United States, barbecue is having more than a little bit of a renaissane. To an existing field of old and established barbecue joints (many of which are now working on improving things to stay in the game), there’s been both a notable uptick in new barbecue spots opening in established territory (just see how many new, excellent barbecue places have shown up in and around Austin, TX, for example), and even several barbecue styles like Texas BBQ spreading far, far beyond their traditional boundaries (with respectable Texas-style places showing up as far away as New York City). So it’s interesting to come back to Kansas City, which has long been (along with Texas, Memphis, and the Carolinas) been one of the classic BBQ hubs. Into an already thoroughly saturated market (Kansas City has, easily, over 100 BBQ joints over the metro area, including such classic stalwarts as Jack Stack, L.C.’s, Arthur Bryant’s, or Joe’s), there continue to be new places opening up and trying to add their unique spin on the topic. In this case, I’m talking about Q39.

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Smoke Shack BBQ (Daytona Beach, FL)

I’ve always been a big fan of barbecue (heck, it is one of my top categories), but one of the drawbacks of living far in the Northeast is that almost nobody up here understands good BBQ. For every rare place up here that can make a decent barbecue with some tender texture, good moisture, and a nice smoke flavor, there are dozens that serve up truly mediocre barbecue, usually some sort of overcooked, tough meat (or even worse, boiled meat) served up with a cloying sauce. It’s happened to me enough that I treat any sentence containing both “New England” and “BBQ” in the same sentence with extreme skepticism. But when I’m traveling, it often gives me a chance to actually score some decent BBQ, since I can get down South where folks actually understand that “barbecue” means “smoked” and not “grilled” or “sauced”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s also important to do some research: the various BBQ regions of the US all have their specialties (Brisket and sausage in Texas, pork in the Southeast, and ribs in Memphis and St Louis), and that’s usually what they do best. So with that in mind, a recent trip to Daytona Beach had our group searching out lunch, and we decided to try out the Smoke Shack, across from the Daytona Speedway.

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Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque (New York, NY)

As many of you know, I love good barbeque, especially Texas barbeque, enough that several times I’ve even traveled down to Texas almost every year for at least one smoked meat bender. But living up here in New England, good BBQ joints are few and far between, and it takes more than a little bit of research to find the good places (another nod here to the excellent work of Gary over at PigTrip.net who does an excellent job picking the wheat from the plentiful chaff). But while a few of the places up here do some decent work, I’ve been really craving some good barbecue, so one weekend in late June, we got on the bus, and headed down to check out Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque in New York City.

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Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken

On our way up to our rental condo on the North Shore, every time we were leaving Kaneohe and heading north on the Kamehameha highway, we ran into two places that triggered my “Offbeat Eats” sense. One is an older place on the West side of the road called the Hygienic Store, which is basically a convenience store (the name comes from it’s former life as the “Hygienic Dairy”). We never made it in there, so we’ll have to save it for another trip. But across the street is some sort of abandoned business, but out in the parking lot are two food trucks that make up Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken. There was something cool about the hand-scrawled sign for chicken that make me interested, and when my friend Mark in Kaneohe mentioned that they were actually really, really good, we decided to follow up on it.

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Rebel BBQ (Blythe, CA)

The first full day of our vacation involved waking up in El Segundo, having another trip down into Manhattan beach for a breakfast at Uncle Bill’s (you can read a previous review here), and then driving East to Phoenix. That’s not a short drive (it’s around 7 hours counting basic stops and the like), and that usually leaves one looking for lunch around Blythe, which is pretty much the only real “civilization” for about an hour in each direction. And I’ll be honest, most of the options in Blythe aren’t that great, mostly chains (Denny’s and Pizza Hut, for example), and a few local places (La Casita Dos is pretty good Mexican, and probably should get a review visit from me sometime). But there’s one place in town that does indeed serve up an excellent lunch, and that’s Rebel BBQ. I always have a bit of a hard time writing two types of reviews: Pizza places and BBQ places. The reason is that both of these types of food have both a substantial number of regional varieties, and both of these also have, in my opinion, a much wider spread of quality. There are a lot of mediocre pizza places, but there are a few places that are truly head and shoulders above the rest (like, say, Pepe’s Pizza in CT, or Pizzeria Bianco in AZ). The same goes for BBQ: there are a huge number of BBQ places out there, but the very best (like, say, Franklin) that are in a very different league than most, quality-wise, leading to a surprisingly large gap between “best” and “really good”. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about Rebel BBQ.

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Beefside (Concord, NH)

A lot of the places I go on Offbeat Eats are found by research, but some of them are found by pure happenstance, just by walking or driving past a place that, well, looks rather “Offbeat”. In the case of Beefside, I found this place several years ago, when my brother was returning a rental truck to the rental place in Concord, which was on Route 3 east of Concord, NH. It’s an odd area, mostly full of car dealerships and the likers, but there are a few restaurants oddly sprinkled in between the car dealers, vacuum repair shops, and the like. One of these, Beefside, features on oddly large and comic sign featuring a cow that looks something like the Black Angus twin of Elsie the Cow. It’s the exact sort of sign that says to me “If they’ve been able to survive with kitschy signage like that for so long, they’ve got to have a lot of loyal followers.” So I decided to check them out, and rather liked the place (I first visiting in 2009, it’s just taken me a while to return with a camera).

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Prohibition Pig (Waterbury, VT)

After a very pleasant and successful visit to Burlington, it was time to head back down I-89 to New Hampshire, which gave us a good excuse to stop by and check out Prohibition Pig. Like my previous review of Church and Main, Prohibition Pig is a joint that rose of out the ashes of another well-regarded restaurant. In this case, Prohibition Pig replaced the well-loved Alchemist Brewpub, which after the damages of Hurricane Irene, decided to close the brewpub and focus on their nearby brewery/cannery (which produces the well-regarded Heady Topper). The Brewpub was sold, and thus Prohibition Pig was born. Prohibition Pig keeps much of the same focus on beer that The Alchemist did, instead bringing in beers primarily from nearby breweries… and doing a good job at it. Choices during our visit included beers from Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead, both top-notch VT brewers, and even some Peche Mortel from one of my favorite Quebec brewers, Dieu du Ciel. But the motto of Prohibition Pig is “Smoked Meat and Libations”, and they pair their excellent bar with a menu focusing on local meats, primarily with smoking and curing. The result is that the restaurant’s new incarnation still packs people in, and we even found the place fully busy during what I call the “lupper” period (the doldrums between lunch and supper service).

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Joe’s Real BBQ (Gilbert, AZ)

As I mentioned in the last post, my coworkers and I were based out of Gold Canyon, AZ for several days of desert testing. Gold Canyon isn’t exactly known for its wide variety of dining establishments, so we drove into downtown Gilbert most evenings for dinner. When I was growing up in the Phoenix area, the phrase “Downtown Gilbert” would always result in a little bit of snickering, since until the early 90s, Gilbert was a fairly sleepy suburb, and Gilbert Road (“Downtown”) doubly so. At the time, one of the main eating establishments was “Sideburns: Durn Good Vittles” which closed a few years ago (a shame, since I actually once got a damn fine chicken fried steak there). But the area is changed. Gilbert is now a major suburb, and the downtown area has had a lot of modest development, with a few nice parks, and, most importantly, restaurants. Liberty Market, Oregano’s Pizza Bistro, the Farmhouse, and Joe’s Real BBQ. The last of these was our destination, as regular readers know, I’ve been on a bit of a BBQ kick recently, and wanted to revisit Joe’s (I went there a few years ago, but didn’t blog it) and see how it stacked up against some of my more recent experiences.

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3 Guys Basement BBQ (Hanover, NH)

Ever since they opened this Spring, I’ve been getting people asking me if I’ve tried out 3 Guys yet, and if so, what I thought. I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get over there and try it. First, I’ve been traveling a lot this spring and summer (as I write this, I’m sitting at a gate a BWI…), and I’ve barely been around Hanover to check it out. Seocnd, I’ll be frank, it wasn’t my top priority—I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more than a bit of a BBQ snob (check out my various BBQ reviews) for a sampling). In particular, I’d recently completed two trips to Texas, both featuring pretty good BBQ. Meanwhile, my general experiences with BBQ here in New England have generally been…. very, very disappointing. To the point where I believe that the phrase “New England BBQ” needs to trigger “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” sort of alarms, and an accompanying adjustment in one’s expectations. Oh, it’s not completely dismal, there actually are a few decent BBQ joints hiding out there, but they are interlaced between some truly horrendous places (here’s where I need to plug the excellent Northeast BBQ review site, pigtrip.net, which has allowed me to find several of these gems in my travels). So New England BBQ joints don’t exactly trickle up to the top of my priority list. But last Thursday, I found myself needing lunch, and with an important choice on my hands: go find lunch someplace, or attend our corporate Wellness seminar on “how to pack a healthy lunch.” My choice was made for me… I grabbed a handful of coworkers and we went to 3 Guys to finally check them out.

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Two Bros BBQ Market (San Antonio, TX)

On our last full day in San Antonio, we headed to the northern part of town to check out both Freetail Brewing Company and Ranger Creek Brewing and Distillery. After thoroughly pleasant tours at both (I highly recommend both breweries), we decided we needed a late lunch as we headed back downtown. And we decided that BBQ is what we were craving. Well, unlike nearby Austin, who has a very vibrant BBQ scene, there’s nowhere near as much good BBQ action in San Antonio (if I’m wrong, let me know here…). Sure, there’s a lot of BBQ places, but a good chunk of them are all Bill Miller BBQ, which basically is the McDonalds of BBQ (they smoke stuff at a central location and ship it out). Bill Miller’s is decent stuff, but it’s not anywhere near the quality of a good Texas BBQ joint. But thankfully, the good folks over at Full Custom Gospel BBQ keep a handy map available of the places they’ve reviewed, and on our way back into downtown San Antonio, we passed pretty close to Two Bros BBQ Market, so we decided to give it a shot….

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