Several barbecue restaurants have opened in over the past couple of years in metro Detroit, giving the region a new culinary calling card alongside the coney island and pizzeria standbys. While there is little in the way of innovative meat-searing tactics going on that haven’t already been thought up before, these joints combine some of the best elements of barbecue offered up from different regions of the country. Similar to our pizza scene, the local barbecue pits are starting to make some noise that is resonating far beyond the walls of metro Detroit.
Without further ado, here is a crash course in where to go around town to satisfy those slow-cooked hankerings.
If the metro Detroit barbecue restaurants formed like Voltron, there’s little doubt that Slow’s Bar B Q in Corktown would be the head. There’s nothing more that can be said about the food that hasn’t already been said by folks who are way more credible and well known than Yours Truly, but I’ll be damned if their baby backs and mac ‘n cheese combination isn’t a gift sent from the food gods. The inside of the place is small but outfitted nicely in roadhouse-chic decor that transports you from the urban to a woody Up North tavern. The only downside, the wait time (typically over an hour), is offset by the broad selection of Michigan craft beers on tap.
You gotta try: You already know, the baby backs and mac ‘n cheese.
Slows Bar B Q
2138 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48216
313 962 9828
4107 Cass Avenue
Detroit, MI 48201
One of the new kids on the scene, Greektown’s Red Smoke Barbeque Restaurant offers up a menu that stacks up nicely against its brethren. The spacious restaurant opened in 2010 on the site of the former Monroe Bakery, but its modern-industrial interior bears little resemblance of its predecessor. They offer the traditional wood-smoked dishes from beef brisket and pulled pork to chicken and spare ribs, as well as a number of tasty side dishes including mac ‘n cheese, red beans and rice, green beans and fried leeks and jalapeño cheddar corn muffins. The menu aside, the greatest asset that Red Smoke holds is its location on the always-bustling Monroe Street in Greektown, which is a short jaunt from several points of downtown and can be reached via the People Mover (I know, I know).
You gotta try: The Texas Beef Brisket
Red Smoke Barbeque Restaurant
573 Monroe Street
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 962 – 2100
Moving up the I-94 corridor into Macomb County lies an eastside gem that has been slangin’ prime cuts since 2004 (arguably just prior to the local barbecue boom). You could pass the non-descript Lazybone’s Smokehouse a dozen times along Groesbeck Hwy. without so much as noticing that it’s there. While the interior is clean and updated nicely, the no-frills paper and plastic utensils (silverware notwithstanding) match the humble exterior of the former truck stop just off I-696 in Roseville. Humble in the sense that once you try their food, you’ll wonder why they aren’t out tooting their horns and lining their façade with all types of bravado. Their simple setup is made up for by the fare they offer, which includes beef brisket, St. Louis Spareribs and Carolina Pulled Pork and a myriad of house-made sauces from the sweet (candied apple) and spicy (Screamin’ Inferno) to the tangy (Honey Gold Mustard BBQ). The prices are more than reasonable at Lazybone’s, with most main dishes falling in the $9-$15 range. Patrons order food at the counter, which is then brought back to them by the staff. Lazybone’s doesn’t serve alcohol, but it’s worth noting that the nearby Dragonmead Brewery permits the consumption of outside food.
You gotta try: The Carolina Pulled Pork
27475 Groesbeck Highway
Roseville, MI 48066
(586) 775 – 7427
43203 Garfield Road
Clinton Twp, MI 48035
(586) 247 – 7427
The final stop on this tour keeps us on the eastside, moving up Van Dyke Rd. to the happenin’ city of Sterling Heights, the home of Red Hot & Blue. Yes it’s a chain (which, ironically has left it under-the-radar on the local scene), but it would be an injustice to not include them on this list. Their specialty is their St. Louis-style ribs (wet, dry or sweet), but they also offer pulled chicken, catfish, smoked sausage and a five-meat sampler dish, among others. Like the other aforementioned smokehouses, Red Hot & Blue stands out for its broad selection of side dishes and unique sauces. Coupons are hardly scarce, making a trip to the already fairly-priced restaurant affordable for a date night or a family dinner.
You gotta try: The St. Louis-style ribs
Red Hot & Blue
33800 Van Dyke Avenue
Sterling Heights, MI 48312
(586) 979 – 6400