Thursday, June 26, 2014

Z’s Smokin’ Bonez BBQ – Maple Grove, MN

HotGirlsBrother and I have a difficult time turning down BBQ and ribs of any sort. We heard Z’s Smokin’ Bonez opened up a while back and really tried hard to get there. It took us forever, but we finally made it (despite a last minute decision and then forgetting to call Low-Vee to come join us like the olden days when we did the Bar-B-Quest). We made the long trek out to Maple Grove to check it out.

THIS is a happy guy:

We were greeted by a young kid who was elbows deep in BBQ ribs. He could tell we hadn’t been here before and offered immediate assistance in ordering. Not pushy or anything, just really helpful. He ran through a couple of top sellers and we told him we wanted ribs. He explained that they basically sold everything by the pound (except for sandwiches), so we opted to split a half rack between the both of us.
When we got to the list of sides available, we were shocked. LOTS of things – a few standards and few really creative things. We went back and forth a few times with each other haggling on what we’d get, and we finally narrowed it down to four sides. Hahahahaha, yes, we narrowed it to four sides. Loaded baked beans, Bacon and Bleu Mac, Bacon Potato Salad, and House Cole Slaw. The kid was already chopping our ribs while HotGirlsBrother and I stood at the counter and argued. Then, we made the guy’s life hell by using a LivingSocial deal we got – the guy was really gracious about it and played it off like we didn’t just ruin his day. (We tipped really well to make sure his day wasn’t completely ruined!

They brought out the ribs and sides on cafeteria trays and we divided things up to make sure we got to try some of everything. The kid told us about the sauces they had and then sent us to the refrigerated case to pick out our own. We tried a little of every sauce they had there. And, it wasn’t just the side dishes that had some creativity to them! The sauces were magical and not like most I’ve seen in many BBQ joints. They, of course, had original and sweet & sassy, which is common, but then they had a Bacon BBQ, Peanut Butter BBQ, Mustard BBQ, Temper BBQ (and a sugar free version), Jalapeno BBQ, Wasabi BBQ, and a White BBQ (horseradish based). The guy is a mad scientist of BBQ sauces!

The Bacon Potato Salad was great. Lots of bits of bacon in it and rich creamy flavor that somehow wasn’t a heavy cream feel. I’m not saying it was light or anything, it was just significantly lighter than either of us expected. Fantastic.

The House Cole Slaw was good, even though we thought it would pale in comparison to the creamy ones we normally like. It was vinegar based, but not normal vinegar. Maybe apple cider or something more unique than that. Still sweet, but had the burn and tang of vinegar. I’d absolutely order this again.

The Loaded Baked Beans were so packed with other meats (rib meat, pulled pork, bacon) that you almost couldn’t tell if the beans were good. I think they were, but I was so focused on all the other meat, I couldn’t tell. These are almost a meal in themselves.

The Black and Bleu Mac was really quite good. There were little chunks of bleu cheese mixed in with the noodles and you could really taste the bleu flavor. I really liked this stuff. It’s some of the better mac and cheese I’ve had lately, in all honesty.

Finally, the ribs were so much better than we expected them to be. I say “expected”, but I mean “hoped”. And by that, I mean if they were bad, then we wouldn’t have to drive all the way back out to Maple Grove again. Sadly, these things were really delicious and now we have to drive all the way back out to Maple Grove again. Hahahah. Totally worth it, though. The bones slid right out of the meat. Just a little bit of fat to give the things flavor, and a little bit of cartilage to work through. But we cleaned these bones (or bonez) like wolves. Great dry rub on them and the smoke flavor is real, not from a bottle. We tried them with all of the available sauces and here are my choices for favorite sauces. I kept going back and forth between the peanut butter BBQ and the Jalapeno BBQ. The peanut butter was like a thick Thai peanut paste with a little kick and the jalapeno had great pepper flavor. Both of these were homeruns. The original was really good, as was the Sweet & Sassy. I’m not a mustard fan, but HotGirlsBrother really liked that one and the White BBQ. I thought the White BBQ sauce would be fantastic on a roast beef sandwich, so I’m keeping that in mind. The other sauces were fine, as well – I promise.

We left the place absolutely stuffed (so maybe four sides was overkill) and happy. The owner and the kids working there were really hospitable and helpful and talkative. Even though it is a haul from the Twin Cities proper, it’s worth a trip if you’re headed west on 94. I’m glad we finally made it out there. Now I need to check my calendar to find out when we can go again!!!

Top 5 things about Z’s Smokin’ Bonez BBQ
1. BBQ Ribs
2. Black and Bleu Mac
3. Loaded Baked Beans
4. House Cole Slaw
5. Crazy number of sauces!

Bottom 5 things
1. Not close to TC proper, but worth the drive
2. So many delicious things on the menu you’ll take forever to decide
3. Who am I kidding? There IS no bottom 5 list for this place!

1 comment:

Travis Groth said...

As a common visitor to 'heaven' as well, , I cant agree more with everything that you said. One correction, it BACON and Bleu mac, yes, bacon bits mixed in too.