When it comes to barbecue, my cravings are insatiable. However, my wife always seems to have a headache whenever I suggest going out for some smoky goodness. But during a week when I was a work-trip bachelor, I took advantage of the opportunity to indulge in four days of barbecue bliss at various joints I had never tried before. Out of all the places I visited, one stood out from the rest, leaving me with an unforgettable experience – City Barbeque, located in Madison between West Towne Mall and Vel Phillips Memorial High.
A Smokin’ Victory
City Barbeque, an Ohio-based chain, effortlessly outshone its competitors, leaving me compelled to give it the official review treatment. Having reviewed countless barbecue establishments since 2011, I can confidently say that City Barbeque not only serves exceptional food, but also creates an atmosphere that feels truly authentic, far from the corporate image one might expect from a chain.
Breaking the Rules, Deliciously
My long-standing belief has been that a region without its own local barbecue style should choose one and stick to it. However, City Barbeque shattered that rule for me. This restaurant has mastered the art of cooking different barbecue styles, paying close attention to the unique features of each style and giving them the respect they deserve. It’s not about offering a wide range of sauces; it’s about capturing the essence of each style in every bite. And City Barbeque handles this challenge with exceptional skill.
Being a brisket enthusiast, my love for this particular cut of meat is unwavering. I prefer it simple, with a strong bark and perfectly rendered fat. City Barbeque’s brisket slices are a cut above the rest, melting in your mouth without the need for a knife or additional sauce. Whether served on a bun or a butcher paper-lined tray, these brisket slices are perfection. While I did come across a couple of slightly drier pieces, overall, the quality was outstanding.
A Taste of the Carolinas
Finding authentic Carolina-style chopped pork outside of the Carolinas can be a challenge. However, City Barbeque offers its own twist with the Lolo’s pork sandwich, featuring pulled pork and the tangy kick of their Swine Wine house sauce. Despite not being cooked with the incorporation of fat, City Barbeque’s pulled pork is incredibly moist and leaves you wanting more.
Side Dishes Done Right
City Barbeque doesn’t stop at just the main course; they offer an array of side dishes that perfectly complement your meal. Their collards with pork are a standout, where the meat takes center stage and harmonizes with the greens. The mac and cheese is delightfully gooey, the cornbread is lightly sweet, and the potato salad is well-seasoned and satisfying. Even the simplest of sides are elevated to new heights at City Barbeque.
City Barbeque continues to impress with their imaginative and mouth-watering sandwich options. The More Cowbell sandwich, reminiscent of a cheesesteak, is a crowd-pleaser, especially when made with turkey. Bold flavors, including peppers, onions, and provolone, make this sandwich a must-try. The turkey “taqo,” though slightly overwhelming with its spicy toppings, is still a tasty treat for fans of bold flavors. And the St. Louis-style ribs, tender and succulent, leave you reaching for more, even those cartilage-heavy bits that are usually tough to chew.
Misses and Hits
While City Barbeque nails most of their dishes, there are a few misses along the way. The sausage link, although flavorful, falls short of the symphonic experience found in eastern Texas. Similarly, the Nashville hot-ified chicken tender lacks the juiciness and tenderness I was hoping for, but a drizzle of honey manages to salvage the flavors. And while bone-in chicken isn’t my personal preference, the chopped chicken found in the smokehouse salad is a worthy alternative.
Where Passion Meets Personability
Despite City Barbeque’s expansion across more than 50 locations, including Big Ten states and beyond, their staff remains warm, friendly, and attentive. With every visit, you’ll experience a level of passion and commitment to customer satisfaction that is truly remarkable.
No barbecue feast is complete without a sweet ending, and City Barbeque certainly delivers in this department. Indulge in their triple chocolate cake, savor the massive peach cobbler, or opt for the travel-friendly banana pudding in a cup. And if those options aren’t tempting enough, the pretzel s’mores pudding, mentioned on their menu website, demands a return trip to the west side of the city.
So, whether you’re a die-hard barbecue fan or someone looking for an exceptional dining experience, City Barbeque in Madison is the place to be. Prepare yourself for a culinary adventure that combines the best of various barbecue styles, while maintaining the utmost respect for each tradition. Don’t miss out on this smoky sensation!
To learn more about City Barbeque, visit their website Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ.
Images and videos courtesy of the original article.