Slabtown Ribs & BBQ gave me a chance to enjoy some low and slow American bbq. They are only open on the weekdays because they focus on the weekends on catering and competitions: indeed, a whole wall about half the length of the restaurants if full of their ribbons from those competitions, some of which are showcased in the window, and they have been fighting the meaty saucy fight since 2005.
Thanks to a Groupon, I had an excuse to try it out. I went with the BBQ Combo, which offers a sampling of most of their food, including sliced brisket, two of their St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs, a mini pulled pork sandwich, and a small sample of Zenner’s German sausage, and the combo includes two sides of your choice. I picked mac and cheese and the collard greens, passing up on the Baked Beans, Cole Slaw, Red Potato Salad, or Buttermilk Biscuits. You also have your choice of 3 sauces: Kansas City Classic, Texas Hot, or Carolina Style Mustard. The only thing not in the combo was their BBQ chicken.
Of the combo plate, my favorite was definitely the ribs, which even though they had only ladled a spoonful of the Kansas City Classic sauce, I was wiping off to put on the brisket instead because these smokey tender ribs didn’t need any additional flavor. The brisket was ok- that’s where the sauce was needed, as well as the pulled pork slider. I also found that the ends of the brisket were very dry- I didn’t end up eating the ends of my last piece because I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m not sure how the German sausage fits in, but it was a good sausage. The mac and cheese was mushy and needed some additional seasoning of pepper, while the collard greens at least had a nice slightly sour tang to counter my meat plate.
The restaurant itself is barebones in terms of seating only 50 people at most, with cheap tables and chairs so that you could easily imagine this was a late night fast food hole in the wall that could be serving burgers or mexican just as easily. They have a few touches of warmth, but the focus seems to be making sure the meat is taken care of. They don’t have a bar inside Slabtown, but they still offer beer and mixed drinks by fetching it next door, which allowed patrons to sip a cold brew or in my cases, an ok bloody mary.
I would definitely recommend the ribs. Two guests after me, they were actually sold out of their BBQ chicken, so I never got to try it but maybe is a hint that those might be tasty. or, maybe because it was getting close to their 8pm closing time (I got my food close to 7pm) so they were running out of their earlier prepped food, and maybe that’s why my food was more along the middle line. I liked the bun the pulled pork was on, but on the combo plate they hadn’t added any sauce to it- if I had known that, I might have ordered an extra side of a different sauce to try for the two extra quarters.
Overall, I found this a decent place, and the service was fast and friendly. I like smoke, so I really liked the ribs plain to best taste that smoke, and the amount of meat on those rib bones was a perfect thick amount. I mean look at that picture- that’s a pretty decent size of rib! But if you are looking for more juicy meat you might be disappointed.
Unfortunately, Slabtown can’t quite reach the standard of the best bbq I’ve had yet, which was at Jimmy’s BBQ (Lexington, NC). There, I had the chopped pork, including the “outside brown” our friend/guide Dan instructed us to order so we also had those darkened portions that have been closest to the smoke. The sauce is kept warm in a coffee pot and served on the side. I cannot explain to you much of this fatty smokey meat was moist and tender. I ate 98% of it without sauce. On the other hand, that also means a trek to NC, so…