Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Struggling With Barbecue Bigotry at Smokey D's

Smokey D's BBQ
5055 NW 2nd Street,
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 243-2747

I don’t like to talk about it much, but I’ll admit it.

Deep within in the recesses of my heart, lies something I’ve been holding back from Suits in Strange Places readers.

I am a bigot. A barbecue bigot.

The thought of finding good – really good -- barbecue in a state that wore navy blue in the War to Prevent Southern Independence sounds about as likely to me as finding a spine in Tim Pawlenty.

Maybe it’s just a Southern Thang That You Wouldn’t Understand.

But that’s how I feel.

To my surprise, my travel-tested and informed “ignance” got tested at Mr. D’s Barbecue in Des Moines, Iowa when I stopped in for lunch recently.

The place is nice, newish, big and packed.

And it’s also right next to the Harley dealership which is kinda like running across a weasel in Washington, D.C.

Despite being in Iowa, this barbecue joint was in its natural habitat!


Entering Smokey D’s, you can’t help but notice the trophy wall . . . and the trophy floor for all the extra awards they just didn’t have room for.

Before ordering at the front counter, I decided to ask the friendly girl at the register what she recommended.

I ended up going with the ribs and brisket basket, potato casserole and coleslaw at her direction.

To drink, sweet tea.

Sitting down at my table, waiting on my order to come out, I couldn’t help but notice the large bar area.

It was lunch, and I wasn’t drinking, but it did appear that the bar area was a pretty happening place with several large TV’s.

Just a couple minutes later, my food was ready.

Both of the sides were very good, but that’s not what Suit 69 rolls up to barbecue joints to eat.

I was there for the meat.

I tried the brisket first.

While it had a nice smoke ring and decent seasoning, it was incredibly dry.

Rule #1 if you’re making brisket is not to dry it out.

Dousing it with sauce helped a little, but it only confirmed my inner bigotry.

“Ha! Is this the best we can get out of a Yankee barbecue joint?” I thought as I quenched my brisket-created thirst with a swig of iced tea.

But then I tried the ribs.

And the moment these ribs hit my taste buds, it sent my head spinning.

They weren’t good.

They were GREAT.

Smokey D’s uses a dry rub and serves their ribs without sauce. It’s slightly sweet, peppery and it allowed the meat to really shine, so I didn’t bother to sauce them.

And unlike the brisket, these ribs were far from dry. In fact, every bite delivered a pop of juicy, smokey pork flavor.

When I started to get full, I just kept on eating until I finished every bite.

I sat there looking at my empty food basket with some regret, I noticed something.
I’ve only had this experience a few times in my life, but after a really good barbecue meal, I’ll often sit there with a stupid smile on my face in a complete sense of utter euphoria.

And on this day, my barbecuegasm came courtesy of Smokey D’s.

The only issue I had now was the rating.

Would I really give a northern barbecue restaurant Suits in Strange Places top rating and put them on par with the soufland’s best?

I looked at the t-shirts on the wall. They were really cool looking.

But then I remembered the brisket.

Would I let the dry brisket slide simply because the ribs were so great?

I’ve done it before.

After all, Suits are never in one place for very long, so we simply can’t rate every item on the menu.

We’re about finding out what a restaurant does best and sticking to it . . . and if I had just ordered the ribs, I never would have known the brisket was dry . . .

But the girl at the register did recommend it.

And everybody needs a crutch.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying the Shirt

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