As you may or may not know Sarah and I moved to Springfield, MO in last Friday. We’re renting a house in a nice older neighborhood near the mall. My biggest fear about moving to Springfield is that there isn’t really any good barbecue. I took another carload of stuff down last weekend and tried to lessen my fears, by eating nothing but bbq for the weekend. Okay, not for breakfast, but bbq the rest of the time. Details after the jump.
Trying out a bbq restaurant is no simple task. You can’t just order one thing. Ideally you can go with a few people that are willing to share. I was by myself this weekend (probably the only way somebody can actually eat bbq four meals in a row), so I had to be a bit more creative. My test order consists of a combination plate with pork and brisket. At most bbq restaurants this will come with two sides. One of those sides is always beans, the other is the unique side (or fries if there isn’t a unique side). If at all possible I order a single rib as well. I also like to talk to the staff. If you work in a bbq restaurant you should know about bbq.
I’ll be rating the restaurants on a 10 point scale. Three or below I wouldn’t go back, between 4-7 it’s passable, 8-9 quite good, 10 perfect. I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten in a 10 point bbq restaurant — Oklahoma Joe’s in KC rates a 9, Sutton’s Place in Columbia (they’re closed now unfortunately) rated an 8.
The Rib Crib – 4
The Rib Crib is a chain. That is a strike against it initially. The food also wasn’t that great. TRC provides two sauces on the table, a hot and a sweet. Both sauces are fairly good but nothing exceptional. I also was unable to order a single rib, another check against it. There wasn’t any type of an original side, so I just went with fries and beans. I’m also a french fry connoisseur and I can tell you that these fries were nothing special. The beans had good flavor, but they were a bit runnier than I would prefer and were lacking in chunks of smoked meat.
Box Car Barbecue – 5
Box Car is more my idea of a BBQ restaruant. It’s a hole in the wall. It consists of mainly a counter and a few booths. They make everything from scratch at Box Car and the meat is sauced when it’s brought to the table. This is an issue for me because I think good bbq shouldn’t need sauce. I love sauce, but it shouldn’t be required. The sauce at Box Car also was lacking something. I’ll have to try it again to determine what it is exactly. The pork and brisket were well smoked and tender, but the rib was overcooked. The beans also had a great smokey flavor, once again they seemed runny though. Box Car’s redeeming point was Cliff’s Ome’ Rice. It is a dirty rice dish that features pieces from all the different smoked meats. This dish alone makes a visit to Box Car worthwhile. In the future I’ll probably just get meat and the rice to go and sauce it at home.
Crosstown Barbecue – 6
So far Crosstown is the best BBQ in Springfield. It’s got a family atmosphere, lots of news clippings on the wall, and it’s in a part of town some would say isn’t the best. So far, perfect. The meat at Crosstown wasn’t ideal, but it was good. Both the pork and the brisket were slightly overdone (a bit tough) and the pork was sliced rather than pulled. I wonder if it dried out a bit after it was sliced. The rib was better than I had expected. It was a rib in true KC fashion. Crosstown also serves two sauces (a spicy and a sweet). The sauce is a blend of a KC style sauce and a mustard based sauce (it’s slightly orange in color). I didn’t particularly care for the sweet sauce, but the spicy was good and sweet at the same time. No specialty sides at Crosstown, but the beans and fries were both good.
Buckinham’s BBQ – 3
Buckingham’s is also a chain. I’ve not eaten at any of the locations in the Springfield area, but I have eaten at the one in Columbia. The meats at Buckingham’s are all good as are the beans and the horseradish cole slaw. My favorite thing about Buckingham’s is that they have an assortment of sauces available for use in the restaruant including my personal favorite, Blue’s Hog (I’ll write about this sauce some other time). Buckingham’s Update: The Buckingham’s in Springfield is in no way as good as what I’ve had in Columbia. They don’t serve fries and I think the meat quality is rather low (very fatty).
I still have to go to St. Georges and Corky’s. I’m thinking I may have to try Smokey Bones as well (although it just screams I’m a horrible chain from the outside). So far I haven’t found any single place that satisfies my desire for BBQ, but I’m not completely crushed by the choices either.