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It's time for a barbecue revolution. Are you ready?

Spice rubbed baby back ribs in a smoker.
Spice rubbed baby back ribs in a smoker.
Photo by; J. Watkins

I don’t think there’s an actual statistic, however I think that less than 15% of people who claim to have eaten at a barbecue restaurant have actually ate real barbecue. There are simply so many restaurants which could be classified as ‘corporate barbecue’. These multiple chain restaurants serve up the typical barbecue choices, beef brisket, pork ribs, smoked chicken, turkey, and sausage. While these various barbecue choices do typically start off in a real barbecue smoker, often they are finished in an oven, or kept in a warmer throughout the day before making it to your plate. Too many times I’ve visited one of these chain restaurants only to sit down to a plate of brisket that tastes exactly like roast beef, excessively dry chicken, ribs completely void of a spice rub exterior, and other meats that require excessive barbecue sauce to rescue them and make them edible.

There’s one place in particular that claims to offer ‘Texas style barbecue’, however they seem to always fail in the delivery of this claim. If you find yourself standing in front of a cafeteria style line placing your order, only to have the people behind the line shouting jingles which echo across the restaurant letting everyone else know of your food selection, then chances are you’re at a place that will fail to satisfy your craving for real barbecue. The same can be said for that one restaurant that passes out bright colored plastic cups as souvenirs for visiting.

Apart from these corporate ‘cue places, there’s the family style restaurants and steak houses that have a few barbecue options on their menus and claim that they’re true Texas style barbecue. They pride themselves in having fall off the bone ribs that come to your table slathered with almost half a bottle of barbecue sauce. Quick news flash for you, ribs should not fall off the bone. A good barbecue rib will pull away easily from where you take a bite, however the rest of the meat should stay on the bone. A ‘fall off the bone’ rib has either been boiled or baked in an oven. These places also typically offer barbecued chicken or pulled pork, which is nothing more than plain chicken or shredded pork with the same amount of barbecue sauce poured on. Bottom line; steakhouses are for steaks, burger joints are for burgers, and ‘neighborhood’ restaurants are for your quick dinner fix when needed.

If you’re wanting real barbecue then jump in your car and start driving around. Keep your eyes peeled, because most of the time the best barbecue you can find is often in a small, run down building with a quaint sign out front that reads ‘BBQ’. If you step out of your car and immediately get greeted with a rich wood smoke smell, then chances are you’ve indeed found a real barbecue joint. It’s best to ask the people in these places what they recommend. Often you’ll be told everything, but typically there’s something that people just rave about and that’s what you should stick with. It may take a couple of visits to various small barbecue joints like this before you find one that blows your taste buds away, but once you find that one you’ll be hooked for life. You’ll tell all your friends and be more than willing to travel a little bit further to get some barbecue.

Wrapping up, with the influences of these large corporate chain barbecue restaurants and your local neighborhood family places, most people have never truly experienced real barbecue. If you’ve always been to these corporate barbecue places and have never found that small run down barbecue joint, than you are missing out. Next time you’re looking to get that barbecue fix, head right on past the large restaurants and seek out some real barbecue.

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