Review: Rick's Roadhouse

You know where their heart is
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  March 26, 2014

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MMMM, RIBS at Rick's.
Ah, the sweet, tooth-tingling charms of barbecue. Having recently returned from a rambling, fattening road trip through the South, sampling BBQ here and there, my taste buds were attuned to the hardly-heart-healthy attractions of cardiologists’ favorite cuisine. So Rick’s Roadhouse it was, for lunch.

Approaching the place, what likely catches your eye first are E, A, and T in enormous separated letters. No subliminal advertising here. Under the name above the entrance are the basic offerings: steaks, BBQ, and burgers, in that order. But the phone number here is 272.PORK, so you know where their heart really is.

My friend and I strolled through the wide-open airplane hanger of a main room to the sun-flooded street-side space with the smaller bar (fewer people to notice if our faces ended up smeared with sauce). A sign offering beer by the bucket for 10 bucks and big, bold orange neon proclaiming “WHISKEY BAR” made clear we were not there for tea and crumpets.

The menu did offer some items for appetites not attuned to pork or beef, such as fried fish and “Hen House” sandwiches (each $7.59), the latter with smoked chicken and BBQ sauce. Salads, the usual recourse for dainty appetites, present only one meatless among five listed. The grilled cheese sandwich ($8.99), usually a safe recourse for the carcass-averse, has both Swiss and American cheeses but is proudly described as being topped with slow-smoked pork. A vegetarian hankering for soup that day was also out of luck, since the daily special was beef vegetable. So close.

The Texas eggrolls ($5.59) sounded interesting, with such ingredients as smoked chicken, roasted veggies, three cheeses, and avocado ranch dressing. Maybe next time.

I started with their Firehouse Chili ($4.99/$5.99), which had as much ground beef as other stuff, including bell pepper and tomato pieces, topped with cheddar and diced sweet onions. Hearty enough for a lumberjack. A nice contrast to have with that is the sweet potato tots ($5.99), well-browned, served with a honey Dijon dip. The sweetness of that last touch was typical of much of the rest here, as I’ll note below.

Too much sugar was not a problem with their barbecue sauce, though, as evident on the baby back ribs ($6.99/$12.99); there was just enough, letting the heftier flavor through, though some of that was the “gunpowder rub” on the meaty little bones. The accompanying baked beans were, unusually and appreciatedly, beefed up, almost literally, with shreds of pork. The sweetness of the ever-so-lightly vinegared cole slaw was just right but was too much for the dry and too dense corn bread. The mac and cheese side was flavorfully on the money.

Since pulled pork is a favorite of mine and that was in one of their two quesadillas ($8.99), the other being chicken, I leapt at that chance. It was a bit spicy hot, mixed with BBQ sauce, corn and bell peppers, quite good, and served with a generous amount of sour cream and salsa (sweeter than most), and a lot of guacamole is yours for an extra $1.59.

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