Stamford has its fair share of barbecue restaurants. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, The Boatyard at Smokey Joe’s, Judy’s Bar + Kitchen, and Coalhouse Pizza (yeah, they have barbecue too) are on the outskirts of the city proper. In the city’s restaurant-riddled Downtown area you’ll find Brother Jimmy’s, the newly opened and much buzzed about Mason Dixon Smokehouse, and one that’s been there for over five years, BarBQ.
Formerly known as Bar-Q — and way back when, Hula Hanks, where amateur drinking mistakes were born — BarBQ is located kind of behind all the rest of Downtown Stamford, in an alleyway of sorts, but it’s near a parking garage, so that’s a plus.
BarBQ epitomizes country-style with exposed brick walls, a semi-industrial feel, and tables decked out with plastic red & white checkered tablecloths, full rolls of Bounty paper towels, and mini metal buckets with Handi Wipes, proper equipment for sauce and rub clean-up.
The new menu, put in place by Executive Chef and CIA grad Rich Longo, features low and slow, house-smoked barbecue, classic country sides, a few burgers, barbecue sandwiches, and a handful of Big Plates. The smoked selections include ribs (dry rub or sauced), kielbasa, turkey, chicken, pulled pork, crispy pork belly, brisket, burnt-ends, big beef ribs, and chicken wings or giant sized turkey wings. All their meats are house-cured and brined, and are smoked, typically using Applewood when available, anywhere from 6 to 16 hours in a stand-up smoker located in the restaurant’s kitchen. Chef Longo mentioned that the reason why the smoker is not outdoors is because if one person complained about the barbecue smell or the smoke, they’d have to get rid of it.
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If you go, you have to try the Texas Style beef ribs, a massive slab of juicy beef that’s smoked for 6-plus hours and is generously rubbed with a coarse salt and pepper blend. The barbecue chicken wings were also a favorite and boasted a tender skin. Another to look out for are the burnt-ends, cut from the point half of the brisket, that have a high fat content and are extra juicy with lots of “bark” effect from the dry rub. They’re a delicacy in any barbecue restaurant so don’t be disappointed because ends are limited.
In the Big Plates section, you could opt for chicken and waffles with a sweet honey drizzle, but I found the biscuits and gravy to be one of the stars of the entire menu. It’s a thick, well-seasoned gravy with chunks of sausage, that smothers two buttery biscuits.
Besides the food, BarBQ focuses on entertainment, and there’s a DJ from Thursday to Saturday, and even line dancing on Thursday nights. You’ll need a drink for all that music, and BarBQ has an ample selection of craft beer and generic brands to choose from, and if you’re extremely thirsty, they have 40 oz. Colt 45s, complete with a brown bag. You could also opt for a specialty cocktail, most of which are along the lines of bourbon lemonades or sweeter beverages that tend to contrast the salty barbecue.
At the very least, stay for one specific dessert — the deep-fried Oreos. It’s carnival food at its finest. I would recommend adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a cookies and milk experience. Either way, it’s a damn fine guilty pleasure.
BarBQ is not perfect, but it’s fun. Treat it as such.
15 Clark St at Main St, Stamford
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