Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ribs in Strange Places

Pizza Parlor
1919 NE Seward Avenue
Topeka, KS
Visited July 27, 2010

Beer selection: Classic dive bar options

Food: Unfortunately, also typical dive bar options

OK. I admit it. My bad.

You don’t order ribs at a place called the Pizza Parlor.

But my research told me that there were good ribs with an excellent homemade BBQ sauce to be had at this dive sport bar in this decidedly blue collar section of Topeka.

An adventurous eating destination is one of the few joys of modern day travel. I’ll give anything a try. Once.

To be honest, the ribs weren’t terrible. Just not the epic t-shirt buying variety.

The ribs were tender, but lacked any evidence being smoked. No tell-tale red smoke ring. No smoky flavor.

Folks, boiled ribs ain’t BBQ.

The baked beans were from industrial-sized store-bought cans of Bush’s – the evidence readily visible on the journey through the kitchen to the men’s room.

The coleslaw was at least unusual in a strange vinegary sort of way.

The highlight was the globs of thick red BBQ sauce on the ribs.

I know some BBQ snobs would be absolutely aghast at the sight of a half inch thick mound of ketchup-looking sauce covering their ribs. But I can be open-minded when I want to be – at least when it comes to BBQ sauce.

In eastern North Carolina, I’ll gladly sprinkle on the vinegar sauce. In Columbia, I’ll pour on the golden mustard sauce. In Memphis, I’m happy to indulge in dry ribs with no sauce at all.

In the Midwest, folks like thick, sweet tomatoey BBQ sauces.

Deal with it.

You can’t tell me a deliciously molasses-sweet sauce like the Pizza Parlor’s wouldn’t make cardboard taste good.

But that’s the problem with the Pizza Parlor ribs. It’s the sauce alone that salvages the meal.

Then again, maybe I was just grumpy over the fact that at noon on a Tuesday I was the only one in the joint wearing a suit – and the only one not drinking beer. The scene was straight out of a Sheryl Crow song.

The Pizza Parlor is a classic blue collar neighborhood dive bar, complete with $1 drafts of Pabst Blue Ribbon. And, no, it wasn’t happy hour.

That’s the regular every day price.

Of course, if you are a big spender, you can get Busch Light cans for $1.50. Busch-freakin-Light in a can! It doesn’t get any more divey than that!

So I made a promise to myself.

Next time I’ll be prepared. When I’m in Topeka, I’m changing into Wranglers and coming after work to drink $1 PBRs with the locals.

And next time, I’m ordering the pizza.

Rating: Would Wear Shirt If It Were Free

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