As Saturday's Pig & Whiskey approaches, a look at local barbecue
Published: July 27, 2011
Detroiters love the smoky, sweet and savory flavors of classic barbecue. Detroit's venerable pit-style barbecues have long lived a prosperous, almost charmed life. And ribs and the like have long been staples on local menus. Then five years ago Slows Bar-B-Q, mixing low-and-slow 'cue with hip interiors and bad-ass beers, ushered in the new era. On Saturday, MT's inaugural Pig & Whiskey event kicks off from noon to 8 in downtown Ferndale with more than 15 whiskeys, a beer selection from WAB, 11 eateries, music by the Detroit Cobras and more — with a portion of proceeds to Ronald McDonald House. Details on Pages 14-15.
Bad Brad's BBQ 35611 Green St., New Baltimore; 586-716-9977; badbradsbbq.net: Opened just last year, Bad Brad's motto is "From our smoker to your plate," summing up their intention to give diners the best barbecue possible. They start every day at 5 a.m., cooking beef brisket and pork shoulder in fruit wood and hickory smoke as long as 14 hours. Get a taste of the meat in one of their many cleverly named sandwiches, (all $8). Or choose among sliced or chopped brisket, pulled pork or chicken, or pork sausage. You can also go "whole hog" with a half ($13.50) or a full ($23) slab of St. Louis-style ribs. Also, the clever wall illustrations by Detroit artist Jerome Ferretti don't hurt either.
Bert's Marketplace 2727 Russell St., Detroit; 313-567-2030: On summer Saturdays, Eastern Market seems to be bursting at every seam. Stalls and sheds overflow with colorful produce as merchants set up shop along Russell Street. And Bert's is not only a great place to sit and do some Eastern Market people-watching, you can also enjoy some serious barbecue. (You also get a front seat to some of the most unusual karaoke performances ever!) The menu runs from catfish to 'cue, and on warm market days when the grillmasters are in full view outside, you'll be able to see before you buy!
Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery 205 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor; 734-222-4095; bluetractor.net: The menu is full of down-home fixings, the beers are pure contemporary craft, the interior is warm and quirky, and inventive specials year-round keep switching it up. And the barbecue? It's mostly slow-cooked proteins that get a douse of rub or sauce during final grilling, and includes baby-back ribs, Carolina pulled pork, barbecue "beer can" chicken, and even some more interesting-sounding choices, such as bacon-wrapped meat loaf, apricot-mustard turkey and smoked barbecued duck.
Bone Yard Bar-B-Q 7010 N Telegraph Rd., Dearborn Heights; 313-561-0102; 13100 Hall Rd., Sterling Heights; 586-731-1600; see theboneyardbbq.com for more locations: Since 1972, the BoneYard has been cooking up barbecued ribs using their open-flame rotisserie, racking up awards over the course of 38 years. The ribs are the house specialty, natch, and the slabs run from about six bones for $10.99 to about 15 bones for $20.99. Even the BoneYard's starters seem formidable, with such choices as jalapeño poppers and mozzarella sticks, yes, but the Bone Yard sampler (ribs, wings, tenders, mozz sticks and onion rings), "Pork Slammers" and the "Onion Tower," hand-cut Spanish onions breaded and gently fried, piled up and served with the restaurant's original sauce.
Bo's Smokehouse 51 N. Saginaw St., Pontiac; 248-338-6200: With three separate levels occupying almost 12,000 square feet, Bo's Brewery & Bistro offers patrons full bar service, billiards and more. As many as 40 people can sit at the bar and enjoy such Michigan craft beers as Bell's and King's, followed by special desserts every week. And over the last year, they've upped their barbecue game, expanding their selections of smokehouse pork and beef.
Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar Fifteen locations in metro Detroit; see buffalowildwings.com for info: Ah, B-dubs. The bar's mid-day and late-night happy hours show that it's recession friendly, and it flies flags of local pro and college sports teams so that when you're too broke for game tickets, the next best place to be is inside one of these joints, where friends gather, drink, steal some Wet-Naps, and maybe catch some action on the television.
Cleary's Pub 113 S. Main St., Chelsea; 734-475-1922: This small joint in the center of downtown Chelsea has 19 tables, three booths and a full bar — as well as a couple of TV sets with Keno. The kitchen usually serves until 11 p.m. and is extensive with fish (sometimes serving frog legs), ribs, salads, sandwiches and burgers. The clear favorite among barbecue offerings would be the baby-back ribs with homemade Jack Daniels sauce. Sorry, no happy hour, because they're always happy!
Famous Dave's 20300 E. 13 Mile Rd., Roseville; 586-293-2900; $: Why is Famous Dave's so famous? The barbecue, of course! Serving hot-smoked ribs straight out of the Southern Pride Rotisserie Smoker, you'll need lots of Wet-Naps, a cool beverage and probably a "slice of heaven," a homemade bread pudding. The bar seats 10, and there's Blue Moon on tap. They offer $1 pints on Wednesdays and $4 off-the-menu "Famous" drinks on Thursdays.
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