Friday, October 19, 2012

Big Daddy’s Old Fashioned BBQ – St. Paul, MN (Bar-B-Quest 2012)

We had to take LowVee to Big Daddy’s to get through the Eastern Bracket of the Bar-B-Quest. She hadn’t been there before and needed to check it out before we could progress any further into this illustrious competition. As many of you know, HotGirlsBrother and I LOVE Big Daddy’s, so yes, we are a little biased. However, we are willing to see things objectively and calculate scores and pros and cons, temporarily setting aside biases. All this being said, I’ve reviewed Big Daddy’s here and here, so I’ll try be brief on this review. TRY, I said!!!

Everything Big Daddy’s sells is awesome. Just know that going in. They’ve got chicken, baby back ribs, beef ribs, and rib tips. I recommend all of them. But for this particular Bar-B-Quest, we’re focused on spare ribs. The ones here at Big Daddy’s are served dry (one of the best rubs on them, of course), and you can get sauce on the side. Along with my half rack, I got a side of baked beans, and a side of collard greens. You also get to choose between a Ziploc bag of white or wheat bread. I went with white – old school. I also got the last two pieces of cream cheese swirl pumpkin bread out of the dessert cabinet. Cha-ching! I also got Strawberry Fanta – because that’s what you do here.

The super-friendly folks here hand you your food right away and if you’re lucky enough to find a seat in the front of the restaurant, you get to eat inside. We WERE that lucky. The food looked amazing, as usual.

It was amazing, as usual.

The collard greens were simply salted and peppered, just the way they should be. Absolutely delicious flavor and soft, but not floppy. Great work on these. I’ve never ordered them before, but I’m glad I did.

The baked beans are good. Not stellar, but really solid. I really like the beans here.

The ribs are the trophy here, though. The meat is probably the thickest and most tender in the area. Your rib bones aren’t just clean when you are done eating, they’re dry. The meat is so thick it’s amazing you can eat an entire half slab, but you just can’t stop once you start. There’s a great char on the meat as well that isn’t burned, but just adds the perfect texture to these ribs. Fantastic.

Then, the debating started. LowVee thought one thing, HotGirlsBrother thought another, and I thought another. It was going to be close. We looked at ribs-only. We looked at quality and selection of sides. We looked at flavor. We looked at tenderness. We looked at how many LowVee could eat in a sitting. We did NOT look at desserts, since that’s another category. We also looked at stock sauces vs sauces you concoct on your own. Seriously, this was one of the toughest calls we’ve ever had to make in this event. All of the other head-to-head matches were pretty cut and dry decisions. I offered to leg wrestle each of them. I got shot down.

Here’s what we decided after a REALLY long deliberation process. And, this goes against everything we ever expected when we started this thing. We decided that Big Daddy’s just barely beat out Rack Shack. But only on the ribs-only decision. If you factor in sides and additional menu items, Rack Shack slips ahead in the running. So yaaaaaaay for Big Daddy’s. They move ahead to the next round.

Since we had just eaten at C.G. Hooks, we thought we were in a position to make the call for who moves into the championship round immediately. This is where it got tough. Brutally tough. We eventually decided that C.G. Hooks blew all of us away. They beat out Big Daddy’s by the slimmest of margins. So slim it was teetering. A complete upset by an underdog. Mind-blowing!

It was so excruciating for me that I had to go home and drown my sorrows in this delicious pumpkin cheesecake swirl bread. Awwwwww yeah. I even shared with D.Rough.

All of that being said, Big Daddy’s is still going to be my go-to rib place, since it is much closer than a 30-minute drive to White Bear Lake. I’ll also still recommend Big Daddy’s to everyone who asks my opinion of rib places in the Twin Cities. I’m issuing a huge apology to Big Daddy’s for not moving them forward, but I will do everything in my power to rave about you guys until the day I die.

C.G. Hooks wins the title of Best BBQ Ribs in the Twin Cities - Eastern Conference.

See the bracket below:

Big thanks to Kevin for hanging with us on this adventure and listening to us go round and round deciding the outcome. Once I get an awesome nickname for you, I’ll swap it out here.

Top 5 things about Big Daddy’s
1. Baby back pork ribs
2. Collard greens
3. Baked beans
4. Super awesome staff
5. Pumpkin creamcheese swirl cake

Bottom 5 things
1. Nothing at all. Promise.

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