05 June 2012

Down Home BBQ...Sierra Vista

It's a heck of a time for BBQ, and people are jumping on the 'Que bandwagon, and it's an up and down ride for us that enjoy it to our bones.

There are some restaurants that you can feel the soul of the place before you walk in the door. Some you can tell there is BBQ before you see the place, you can smell it in the air, you can see the faint smoke maybe. These are places that have been and will remain popular, because of what the owners and/or pitmasters put into their craft, they put their heart into it, how they feel into  the 'Que. It's something special when you go to a place like this.

This story is not about one of those places unfortunately. This story is about the downward ride that I am seeing too often, where an owner sees dollar signs, because something is so popular, and they aren't in it. The quality of service, and food suffers when there is nothing but dollar signs as a passion.

The place in question... USED to be "The Sub Shop" Owned by the same people as SubStandards you remember that review right?? has put up some BBQ signs.. none of which actually say what the name of the business is now called.... just BBQ.... once inside there are two other signs... one says "Down Home BBQ" so maybe that's what we'll call it.

There is a nice smoker parked out side, with a pretty substantial pile-o-wood next to it, so my hopes were up...until I saw that the smoker is bicycle cable locked shut (to the pillar) so that means nothing fresh is coming off of it, there was not a hint of smoke in the air...hmmm.... things arent...looking that great afterall.
the "never changing" wood pile

Upon walking in I see NOTHING has changed but a menu on the wall the decor is the same as "The Subshop" had up, bummer. It's not bad decor mind you, but it's...."The Sub Shop" decor.

Now is the moment of truth, time to order the grub... ok a few steps away from the moment of truth really. i order the 2 meat one side special...i ask for sauce on the side ( 2 sauces hot and regular....hot...right)...special... doesnt even come with a drink...almost 10 bux and doesnt come with a drink so 13bux after tax. Almost right away I see them prepping my meal... on the flat top... reheating it on the flat top.. .this does not bode well.... my buddy orders a halfslab of ribs, and corn on the cob. I pick mine up  noticing i dont even get a slice of white bread... nothing but meat (miserable portions at that for 10bux..)and side...and head to the table. Out of courtesy, i wait for him to get his rib order... and wait.... then wait s'more....10 min later ( after Buddy swears he hears microwave being used) he gets his ribs, and corn on the cobb....which they have no butter in sight... no butter behind the counter... no butter for corn on the cobb...

Pork and brisket portions..

NOW it's the moment of truth... As a KCBS CBJ (certified barbeque judge) i now instinctively pull on the brisket to see the tenderness of it... and boy was this stuff stretchy.... another bad sign of what's about to come... the texture really wasnt that bad...it was ALMOST there... but not quite, it was sliced SUPER thin to make up for it, not the pencil thick slices i'd like to see. There wasnt much smoke... there wasnt even  much of a hint of smoke... or much other flavor in any case... onto the pork, it had the slightest amount of smoke, had a decent bark but was lacking in flavor department severely, the texture was spot on however, but dry, ( most likely because it was pulled hours before and reheated on a flattop griddle)


Onto the sauce.. which looked very familiar to something i lived on while i was in tucson LOVE(d) the stuff, but they kinda made it seem like it was their own, Then i tasted it, and BAM i was certain( i didnt ask but im 99.9% sure) it's Bill Johnson's BBQ Sauce they had original and spicy... there was no, and i mean NO spicy about it, i think ketchup is spicier. Good tasting with the meat though.. made the brisket palatable, but i dont like sauce on my brisket generally. i like the cow to speak to me when i munch down on it.

the slaw was decent, creamy and full of flavor, a lil sweet a lil savory, nothing special (of course mine is better) but not bad by any stretch.

ribs, and butterless corn
the ribs... lackluster by all standards, they were tough, they felt like the were parboiled, they also they had a strange smoke flavor... like it was ....boiled with liquid smoke in the water... not good, there were no "layers" of flavor.. it had a bland smoke like flavor, and Bill Johnson's sauce... and they were a solid half rack, which would be fine if a person had some utensils to cut them into individual ribs, but there were not, so it was kinda a PITA for to eat them, i know Utensils are bad juju in my book for BBQ, but the peices gotta be handleable (yea that's a word)

Corn on the cob... .needs some kinda butter, 'specially if it's standard run of the mill boiled corn on the cobb, (that's possibly reheated in the nuker) that turned out to be bland as well, pity...

Now my recommendation. Would I? No, they should've stuck to gyros, and leave the BBQ to someone with a passion for it, and it alone. The food is lackluster, the service is not up to par with what it should be, and what should be there to complement the 'Que is nowhere to be seen. Skip this place. you arent missing anything by not goin, except a potential long wait for reheated scrap.



  1. There's bbq place here too that I was unimpressed with. I went about a half hour before closing and didn't stay there to eat it. I took it home. So I thought maybe I wasn't giving them a fair shot by showing up at closing. But shouldn't a bbq place be awesome from open to close? I'm afraid to go back in fear of spending hard earned dough on bad bbq again

  2. Thanks for the review, Kevin. We hadn't even noticed the change. We like TX BBQ and are for sure no experts, but we know what we like. What you showed us is not it.

  3. That brisket looks kinda like roast beef...

  4. I tried it tonight, at 7:55pm the smoker was still smoking a little.
    Window dressing? Maybe.
    But what matters to *ME*, is the actual flavor and texture of the food itself.
    If this criteria is met, it can be made by a Star Trek food replicator for all I care, but I want *TASTE* and *TEXTURE*!

    As for the: "Then i tasted it, and BAM i was certain( i didnt ask but im 99.9% sure) it's Bill Johnson's BBQ Sauce they had original and spicy... there was no, and i mean NO spicy about it, i think ketchup is spicier."
    I'd like to know where to start buying my ketchup from where the blogger get's his.
    The sauce I had tonight was as close to perfect as I can recall having in a long time, spicy enough to bring out the real flavor, without being so spicy that heat is all you taste.

    I will definitely be back!