Listings of many notable barbecue joints throughout metro Detroit
Published: July 17, 2013
Detroit BBQ Company 586-855-9012; facebook.com/Detbbqco: Here’s an interesting innovation: Instead of having a brick-and-mortar restaurant, rove around the metro area greeting customers with the best barbecue you can muster. Recent destinations have included Royal Oak Farmers’ Market and Warren’s Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. Curious? Want a taste? See their Facebook page or have a bite at Pig & Whiskey this week!
Lazybones Smokehouse 27475 Groesbeck Hwy., Roseville; 586-775-7427; lazybonessmokehouse.net: Our readers say this is the best barbecue joint in Macomb County. Why? Because this east side spot has sandwiches starting around $8 and $18.99 for a slab of ribs. Lazybones boasts Black Angus beef, Grade-A fresh pork, and Amish country chickens, done broasted, pit-smoked or grill-ready for pick-up. And for those who want to throw a home party without running the grill, Lazybones has party pans big enough to hold 100 ribs or the equivalent in pulled pork. But note well — if you expect Lazybones ribs to be the sauce-soaked, fall-off-the-bone sort that rules in Detroit and southeastern Michigan, you may be disappointed. But free your mind — these are the dry-rubbed, mopped and slow-smoked ribs that give ol’ boys fits down yonder, and there’s no good reason to restrict yourself to one style of barbecue.
Little Z’s BBQ 22428 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores; 586-585-1000; littlezsbbq.com: Want to try everything at Little Z’s? We suggest Z’s BBQ Sampler, a $25.95 combo that bested three hungry, hard-eating diners. The quality of the barbecue is stellar. The St. Louis pork ribs are perfectly pink under a tasty bark. The “Detroit-style” burnt ends are like charred little steaks. One of the hardest meats to do right, brisket, comes in slices that hold together wonderfully, yet disintegrate if you try to slice them slightly against the grain. The chicken is moist, the smoked sausage works well with Z’s sweet sauce. The braised short ribs pull apart with a fork twist. Z’s offers an array of sauces, ranging from sweet to hot, including Z’s Sweet, Honey Mustard, Cherry Apple, Honey Garlic, Z’s Bold, Crazy Asian, Spicy Buffalo and Firestein is Burning. But for diners who ask for it, they’ll offer two more vinegar-based sauces: Carolina Mustard and Alabama White, a mixture that usually includes pepper, mayo and vinegar.
Lockhart’s BBQ 202 E. Third St., Royal Oak; 248-584-4227; lockhartsbbq.com: Lockhart’s, named after a town reputed to be the barbecue capital of Texas, is a handsomely retrofitted space on the high-ceilinged first floor of an old bank building. The stainless-steel open kitchen turns out reasonably priced, hefty portions. The main courses, served authentically on paper in metal trays and with a white bread sopper, involve brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausage, chicken and ham — and combinations thereof — all smoked ever so slowly over local white oak and hickory. One can sample most of the meats in the “special” combo of brisket, half-rack of ribs, sausage and pulled pork. Or if that mix is intimidating, a half-chicken and ribs or brisket and pulled pork are less daunting combos. The full bar has a selection of Michigan beers, perfect with the ’cue. Aside from the renditions of smoked meats, sandwich offerings also feature fried catfish, smoked salmon and smoked chicken salad.
Nunn’s Barbecue Restaurant 19196 Conant St., Detroit; 313-893-7210: Takeout and cash only. Another one of Detroit’s old-line barbecue joints, Nunn’s (or, Nunn’s II as it’s called; the first Nunn’s burned down) churns out a steady diet of pit-style ribs cooked to perfection, all ready for your carry-out order. No sit-down here, but the ribs are supreme — one rib aficionado we know says they’re the best ribs on the east side. We also recommend the Kenta Cake, a unique specialty at Nunn’s.
Parks Old-Style Bar-B-Q 7444 Beaubien St., Detroit; 313-873-7444; parksoldstylebar-b-q.com: Sit-down dining ends at 7 p.m.; carryout till close. Tucked away from East Grand Boulevard on the edge of New Center and the old North End, Parks Old-Style stands between Custer and Horton streets, on the east side of Beaubien. It was built, from the ground up, in 1963-1964 and has stood the test of time. Unusual for many inner-city barbecue joints, it actually has seating for customers. Parks also stands out due to the vinegar-based sauce on its trimmed ribs ($21.09 a slab), though behind it are subtler flavors, including mustard and perhaps cayenne. Owner Roderick Parks admits it perhaps is an acquired taste, though he points out it has “delighted the multitudes since 1964,” adding that Parks “also features a ‘sweet’ sauce for the sensitive palate and an extremely hot sauce for the more venturesome.” You also get the Parks promise: “I’ll put my ribs, chicken and sauce up against anyone, anytime.”
The Pub BBQ on Hall Road 13100 Hall Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-991-6348; thepubonhallroad.com: Taking barbecue and melding it with a sports bar concept, the Pub BBQ offers a menu crowded with pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, salads, pastas and such, but also includes a few versatile combo platters, including four meats for $21, that mix of pulled pork, pulled chicken, sliced or chopped beef brisket, and smoked sausage. Heck, add a quarter rack of ribs for $6.
Red, Hot and Blue 33800 Van Dyke Ave., Sterling Heights; 586-979-6400: Here are some formidable meals. You can get sandwiches, ranging from the pulled pork and chicken versions to the smoked sausage sandwich and on to something called the “Pig Squealin’ Combo.” There are also ribs (wet, dry or sweet), platters (“Five Meat Treat,” “Delta Double” and “Tennessee Triple”), as well as such Southern faves as catfish, ribs and crispers, and fried Gulf shrimp. Sides include sweet potatoes, garlic-mashed potatoes, beans and more.
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