Al "Bubba" Baker is no stranger to awards. The former NFL lineman went to three pro bowls during his career and was named 1978's Defensive Rookie of the Year. Upon his retirement from the field, Bubba yearned for a return to his southern roots, and so he and his wife Sabrina decided to open a barbecue restaurant using secret family recipes stemming all the way back to the 1950s. Those time-honored techniques include marinating dry-rubbed pork, brisket, and ribs overnight, and then slow-smoking them for hours over smoldering piles of Ohio-grown applewood. It's a painstaking process, but it pays—today, Bubba's trophy case is filled with myriad awards for his succulent cuisine, including four Silver Spoon recognitions from Cleveland Magazine for Best Ribs and Best Barbecue Restaurant.
While many barbecue joints taut ribs that are boneless, Bubba's takes things a step further by de-boning baby back ribs through an patented process that leaves them easily mastered with a knife and fork or spare fencing sword. Bourbon adds an extra flair to boneless beef short ribs, which are sautéed in Bubba's signature barbecue sauce, splashed with bourbon, and set aflame before serving, and southern fried chicken owes its own crispy exterior to a secret batter invented by Bubba's momma, Ernestine. The kitchen also ladles its famous pulled meats onto baskets of fries and on sandwiches to create easy handheld eats, which may be enjoyed in the sports-themed dining room or out on the covered patio, where an inset fireplace keeps things warm and cozy in true down-homestyle.
Boneyard Beer Farm & Mesquite Grill combines hearty eats with entertainment. HDTVs illuminate trays filled with double-patty burgers and St. Louis-style ribs drowned in house made barbecue sauce, as well as 16 types of sandwich including the hand-made, slow roasted pulled pork. On the weekends, live bands take the stage, serenading ears as fingers busy themselves with wings drenched in one of 15 sauces ranging from mild to devilishly hot.
The Dickey’s Barbecue Pit sign may be ubiquitous today as a spot for good ole’ Texas barbecue, but when Travis Dickey first opened his Dallas shop in 1941, the sign had to share space with advertisements to help pay rent. In the 70 years since then, the Dickeys have done well for themselves, with their initial store spawning a slew of franchises throughout the country. Though the barbecue at each outpost is no longer under the hand of one of Dickey’s descendants, each shop still smokes their own meats in-house to create the signature Texan flavor that infuses their briskets, pulled pork, and fall-off-the-bone ribs. Meals can come in any size, from the a la carte sandwiches to platters that incorporate a chosen number of meats with a buttery roll, a pickle, two homestyle sides, and free ice cream. Whether serving up their dishes in the dining room or packing them up for take-away or catering, the staff ensures that each client gets a taste of Texas home cooking without the hassle rubbing every dish on a campfire crock-pot.
Omahoma Bob's barbecue barons slow smoke high-quality meats that have been blanketed in traditional Texas-style dry rub and simmered for 24 hours. The resulting Southwestern-soaked menu boasts a cornucopia of comfort cuisine. Dinner platters ($8.99–$21.99) pair proteins such as brisket, smoked sausage, or pork ribs, with two down-home sides, including sweet-potato casserole, fried okra, and turnip greens (also available à la carte for $1.99 each), and wash down well with a bottled brew. The customer's choice of meat seeks refuge from the heat of the open kitchen in a bed of lettuce, tomatoes, and cheddar in the Q Salad ($6.99), and a German brat shelters abandoned kraut and mislaid spicy mustard ($5.99). Hot deli subs such as The Beulah, loaded with smoked turkey breast and provolone ($5.99), and The Ole Bob, a stack of roast beef, sharp cheddar, and horseradish ($6.99), can be devoured or emptied and used as a hat in the eatery's exposed-brick dining area or umbrella-shaded patio.
Catapulting slow-cooked meat into the jaws of backyard partygoers and sauce-spotted diners, Real BarBQ boasts five house sauces along with reliably smoky general and catering menus. Classic eats such as a pulled-pork sandwich ($5.99) or a whole smoked barbecue chicken ($8.99) those who opt to dine in at either location. Partying carnivores can put in a catering request for a combo such as the Real’s smoking combo ($10.99 / person), which includes a choice of two meats and a cornucopia of sides, or Real’s cowboy dinner ($12.99 / person), featuring brisket, ribs, and peppery smoked sausage. On the takeout menu, ribs come in 50- ($72.99) or 100-piece ($140.99) orders, each with enough extra barbecue sauce to grease up the Slip-'n'-Slide for an afternoon’s worth of open-mouthed dives.