Monday, February 6, 2012

Arkansas Hog - Roadside

I was at a Super Bowl party last night where one of the ladies in attendance told me about a barbecue restaurant just west of West Memphis, AR, that I needed to try. She couldn't remember the name, but she provided some vague directions that seemed good enough for me to give it a try. What I found was Roadside Bar-B-Que, located just south of I-40 on U.S. 147.


The restaurant, painted in the University of Arkansas's school colors, is owned by the parents of former Razorback tailback De'Arrius Howard. Inside there are pictures of Howard from his college days on the walls, which have also been covered with scribbled messages from past visitors. The building is basically a shack that has been added on to the front of an old trailer. The walls also had clippings of glowing reviews of the ribs from The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis so I ordered the half-slab rib plate with beans and slaw.


 The seasoning on the  ribs tasted great. The meat had a lot of flavor, even though I couldn't taste any smoke or see any evidence of a smoke line. I got some of Roadside's hot barbecue sauce served on the side, but used very little of it. The sauce had a really good flavor, but the meat was good enough to stand on its own. So where did all that flavor come from if it wasn't from smoke? I'll come back to that later. I was surprised when one of my rib bones broke in half while I was biting meat off of it. After savoring some of the marrow from the bone I decided to see how hard it would be to break another one. All the bones snapped open with shocking ease, which quickly reduced me to a caveman-like state digging marrow out of broken bones with my plastic fork. 


The slaw was good, with a nice touch of mustard in it. I thought the sauce for the baked beans was too sweet, but the ribs and slaw were good enough to make the beans an afterthought. The staff was laid-back yet friendly while the restaurant itself is comically dilapidated. Everything in it seems to be falling apart, especially if you venture into the restrooms. 

 In the South there is a widely-held belief that all handmade signs should include an apostrophe S, regardless of whether or not it makes any grammatical sense.

Despite the plunger message on the door, the toilet seemed to operate fine. But its seat was completely detached from the bowl, so I had to take it off and set it on the floor. If you are looking to experience a ramshackle rural southern barbecue joint, this is your place.

This is the view when you step out the front door.

Roadside was the first barbecue place I'd been to since I started playing with my new blood glucose meter and I was shocked to see a blood sugar reading of 134 an hour after my meal since I mostly ate my ribs dry, just drank water and didn't touch the large bun that was served with the meal. Then I started thinking about those strangely soft rib bones and started looking at some barbecue recipes online. It turns out that a lot of places either boil or marinate their ribs in Coke or some other soda to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. Keep in mind that Pepsi recently admitted its soft drinks will dissolve a mouse and suddenly soaking in soda seems like a plausible explanation for the the easily broken rib bones, the strangely intense yet nonsmokey flavor, and the curious rise in blood sugar I got from eating bone marrow and rib meat.


Roadside BBQ on Urbanspoon

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