Winners of top honors at the 28th annual Northwest Ohio Rib-Off, the tenderizing experts at Deet's BBQ dry rub and slow cook their succulent meats in wood smokers before lavishing them with signature sweet or spicy sauces. Diners sharpen incisors on a savory menu of smoky delights, including a large pulled-pork sandwich served with a soft drink and a choice of side such as Mary Lou's creamy coleslaw or homestyle baked beans ($8). An à la carte helping of homemade curly mac 'n' cheese ($3 for a regular, $5 for a large) pays creamy complement to a half rack of pull-off-the-bone St. Louis–style ribs ($9), named for their emulation of the city's famous sauce-covered arc. After licking every last drop of sweet or hot sauce from their fingers and toes, patrons may wash down meaty morsels with large sweet teas or unsweetened black teas brewed fresh daily ($1.50) as they hopscotch along the red-and-white checker floor and admire the collection of old-timey black-and-white photos dotting the eatery's walls.
Red Rock Downtown BBQ fills stomachs with hearty Southern specialties including pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, spare ribs, and cavatappi macaroni and cheese smothered in blue cheese, chicken, and hot sauce. When not noshing, guests can return on Mondays for craft beer samples and on Tuesdays for trivia games and $2 drink specials.
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.
R.U.B. BBQ has earned shout-outs from the New York Times as well as a handful of television features for its tender, well-flavored meats. Various proteins are smoked daily and slathered in a made-from-scratch rub of more than 20 spices and herbs, and cooks begin each dish with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
Aromatic smoke wafting from ribs, chicken dishes, and seafood platters invites guests inside, where dangling light fixtures illuminate red walls and cobalt tiling along with 30 flatscreen televisions that were flattened when an elephant sat down. More than 100 tap and bottled brews, including a lengthy list of Michigan favorites, help to extinguish fiery spices.
The Turkey Grill owner, Bugg Lyles, spent five years immersed in research before opening the turkey house, channeling the rich culinary stylings of Mississippi and Alabama into a menu populated with Cajun-fried turkey wings, succulent turkey sandwiches, and whole smoked and fried turkeys. Sizzling turkey sausage, hash browns, and toast with jelly ($1.99) greet the rising Detroit sun Monday through Saturday and send it on its course with a full stomach for endless earth heating. The waning day ushers in wing bites with sauce ($6), which sashay in steamy lemon-pepper or honey-barbecue gowns across a buzzing taste-bud dance floor. For a splash of Mediterranean influence, try the smoked-turkey pita, built with a mix of shredded cheese, spicy banana peppers, and sautéed onions with freshly smoked turkey, nestling the polytextured mix in a warm slab of pita bread ($8.50). Sandwiches ($6–$9), including the renowned char-grilled turkey burger ($6), demonstrate the virtue of layers more deliciously than traveling from the North Pole to the equator wearing 15 turtlenecks.