To make really good barbecue, you have to take your time. For the grillmasters at Baby Back Blues, that means slow smoking slabs on ribs over hickory food for four hours, at which point, they emerge juicy, smoky, and fall-off-the-bone tender. But that's a blink-of-an-eye compared to the time it takes to make the shop's pulled pork. The dry-rubbed pork butts get a dry rub before luxuriating in the smoker for 16 hours before being pulled apart, slathered with sauce, piled onto pillowy buns, and paired with sides such as mac n cheese or the house fresh-cut fries.
Baby Back Blues can also package up its juicy barbecued meats by the pound, or create family packs that pair the chosen meats with home-style sides. For big celebrations, they can even bring the smoker to guests' homes for a backyard pig roast that can feed 50 to 100 guests or two dinosaurs meeting for a light lunch.
When Travis Dickey opened his first Barbecue Pit in Dallas in 1941, the only items guests could order were beef brisket, pit hams, barbecue beans, and potato chips along with a bottle of beer, milk, or soda. The menu has since expanded to include pulled pork, polish sausage, turkey breast, chicken, and a variety of homestyle sides, but the cooking methods have remained the same. At locations across the United States, Dickey's Barbecue Pit smokes all of its specialties onsite with hickory logs and just a dash of fire. To make sure these methods stay consistent at each location, new franchise owners must train at Barbecue U for three weeks before opening their restaurant.
A smattering of 20 sauces and seasonings dripping from hand-spun wings coats patrons' fingers as they cheer on their favorite professional sports teams broadcast on Buffalo Wild Wings' TVs. Eyes are torn between watching teams dribble a ball, shoot a puck, and land a grand jeté, and plates of plentiful wings, burgers, wraps, salads, and ribs. For more entertainment, trivia games exercise brains, and the Blazin' Challenge offers recognition for those brave enough to down a dozen wings slathered in the eatery's hottest sauce in six minutes.
A saying emblazoned on the ceiling of Bonapit Smoke House reads: "If there ain't no wood, it ain't no good!" The ovens in the kitchen would agree—they're stocked with applewood made for slow-roasting a variety of meats, which derive even more flavor from the dry rubs chefs slather on beforehand. Plates of St. Louis ribs, beef brisket, and sausages arrive with corn muffins and corn on the cob, though diners can also savor their meats in signature sandwiches served with homemade kettle chips. Barbecue style even inspires the seafood, such as the wood-fired salmon glazed in a raspberry barbecue sauce. Steaks, wraps, and salads round out the menu for a break from entirely smoky fare, but the environment keeps up with the rustic cuisine, as columns of exposed brick and cherry-colored wood mirror the down-home charm that flavors each entrée.
In 1996, brothers Mario and Tom Soto capitalized on their passion for barbecue by opening Gemato's Wood Pit BBQ, a welcoming family restaurant that specializes in fall-off-the-bone ribs, tender beef brisket, and charbroiled burgers. Chefs split logs in the restaurant's backyard to fuel grills that burn all day long, infusing each meaty morsel with smoky flavor. Guests chow down morsels of barbecue pork and chicken with traditional fixings, or sup on Greek- and Italian-American sandwich shop classics such as gyros or Italian beef. Meanwhile, Western-themed décor accents each hearty meal with with rodeo posters, wooden wagon wheels, and stuffed handlebar mustaches caught in the wild.
When customers walk into John's Rib House, the aroma alone tells them the kitchen is doing justice to barbecue. All ribs and rib tips are smoked with real hickory wood in a Southern Pride smoker for three hours, and the pulled pork stays in the smoker for 13 hours. In addition to barbecue chicken wings, Southern-style catfish, and shrimp dinners, the team piles buns with everything from Maxwell Street polish sausages to half-pound Angus burgers. For dessert, diners can order up slices of sweet-potato pie or peach cobbler to devour in the eatery's casual dining room, or carry out a whole sweet-potato pie to share with their family or a very hungry caterpillar.