Nov 162007

This is probably the best bbq I’ve had in JoCo not counting the illustrious Oklahoma Joe’s. It rivals Joe’s in many ways, and surpasses it in atmosphere which is pure tavern. I know, I know, Oklahoma Joe’s is in a friggin gas station what the hell is my problem? Well, simply put, the gas station gimmick just doesn’t do it for me. Certainly it is an unusual situation and makes for a good story. But ultimately it gives old JoCo people the impression that they are slumming it when really it’s a very boring and family-friendly place. I mean, the seating area itself looks like a Hardee’s (don’t get me started on Gates). They also have a very self-satisfied attitude about the gas station aspect, even selling cheesy t-shirts about it. Indeed, their whole sense of marketing is very cartoonish, gimmicky and dated. Remember the Far Side? Their shirts and packaging is in that vein. Only less funny. “Night of the Living Barbeque sauce!” OMG that’s hilarious! Joe’s reliance on oversized kaiser rolls and “specialty sandwiches” doesn’t endear them to me either. I feel a BBQ place should have a simple, modestly sized menu. All that being said, OK Joe’s has excellent barbeque and everything on the menu is tasty, but in other ways it’s just not that interesting.

Admittedly RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack has a stupid name. But the place is about the size and shape of a double wide trailer-a shack, basically. It could easily turn into a drinking establishment in the evening. For all I know it does. The interior is super casual, quiet but not awkwardly so. Suprisingly they offer table service–and it’s excellent service at that. I had absolutely no complaints about that–they were friendly, attentive, efficient, and no bullshit–everything you want in servers.
RJ’s advertises $2 PBR bottles and cheap draws as prominently as the daily specials, which makes it my kind of place.

Their sauce however is…unusual. I hesitate to say that I don’t like it because I do, but I think it may be a liability more than an asset to RJ’s great smoked meats. I just don’t like sauce to distract me and I fear that this one does. It is overly sweet, but also vinegary. It has a subtle flavor that I absolutely cannot identify. I’ll have to make a repeat visit or two to render absolute judgment on this one. Regardless, they offer regular and spicy versions which seem to have no discernable difference from one another. It bugs me when spicy is not spicy. Damn midwesterners.

The pulled pork here was great. Both the pork and french fries were every bit as good as Oklahoma Joe’s who I find overly salt their fries. The chicken however, is uninspired. I expected a kind of pulled chicken, but instead got thick slices of dry breast meat which did not fit comfortably on the bun. But that’s what I get for ordering a chicken sandwich at a bbq place. I really wanted brisket, but was feeling particularly cholesterol-laden.

It is interesting that I haven’t heard much about RJ’s before, perhaps it is a relatively new establishment? Regardless I will continue to make periodic visits to see if other visits measure up to the first one. Both times I have been there, the place was pretty dead–once I was the only customer at 1pm. Mr. Goodcents was hopping next door, though. What the hell is the matter with these people?

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  7 Responses to “RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack: Lamar & Johnson Drive”

  1. RJ’s has been around there for many years & I agree, it’s probably the best OP/Mission bbq joint out there. Woodyard BBQ is also pretty good, especially on a nice day as almost all the seating is outside and they sell smoker-wood. It’s kind of hidden away (3001 Merriam Ln), but worth it for lunch if you’re already in the area.

    Ciao – Luke

  2. I’ve been to RJ’s a couple of times and was rather underwhelmed by the food. I’ll agree with you that the atmosphere and service is wonderful, but the food doesn’t do it for me. I’m a brisket lover and both times I have found RJ’s brisket to be dry and chewy. My parents were in town visiting and one ordered the ribs (deemed decent) and the other chicken (also dry). I wasn’t overly fond of the sides either. I also thought the value was a bit lacking–especially regarding the sandwiches and sides (although this could be simply due to the large, oversized portions at the other bbq joints).

  3. The Husband & often pick up Jay Bird & dine there. The sausage is one of my favorites in town. And their house bloody mary is pretty darn good, too!

  4. Do not speak ill of Oklahoma Joe’s fries!!!!

  5. Killer breakfast Sat.Sun. till 1! $2.99 bloody mary’s, fresh powdered cinimon rolls complimentary…know we’re talking!

  6. had dinner there tonight and enjoyed it. service was great, food was solid plus a great beer/wine selection. kids had ribs which were tender – i had brisket and a spinach salad (needed some veggies) – good. hubs had a the memphis style pulled pork sandwhich (cole slaw on it) – rocked!. the fries were really good, too. my only complaint is that the meat could be smokier. i liked the atmosphere a LOT. i'd go back in a heartbeat b/c of the combo of good service, casual atmosphere, good selection of beer, wine, alcohol and b/c i can tell the person in charge care about the food they're cooking!

  7. […] while I find it acceptable, certainly better than the oddly sweet stuff at the otherwise superior RJ’s up the […]