The New 'Cue
Not all barbecue restaurants have the pedigree of Big Bob Gibson. Being in business for 90 years has given the iconic establishment more than just street cred in the barbecue arena. It’s given the restaurant history, tradition and family favorite recipes that customers have enjoyed for years, and keep them coming back for more. That’s a great recipe for a successful business, but many of the new barbecue places around the country can’t deliver on the same traditions – so they’re taking a different route.
“It’s hard to recreate a hole-in-the-wall type of place that’s been around for years,” says Jess Pryles, cook, author and TV personality known as the Hardcore Carnivore. “You can’t force history into a place – that only comes with time.”
Instead, Pryles says, the latest trend is barbecue restaurants that are more upscale. “The new barbecue restaurants out there are more upscale, and they’re trying to offer additional things that the traditional places don’t offer,” she says. “Whether it means getting a liquor license and serving different kinds of bourbon, or offering higher end side dishes to accompany the barbecue dishes – I think there’s room to elevate the cuisine from the hole in the wall places to the new upscale places, and offer something for everyone.”
As barbecue gets more popular around the country, especially in non-traditional barbecue cities, the lines between the traditional barbecue regions are starting to blur, Pryles says.
“You used to only find beef on the menu at barbecue places in Texas and Kansas City, but now brisket is everywhere,” she says.
“When a new barbecue restaurant opens up they’re pulling from the best around the country – now you’re finding those regional specialties everywhere,” Pryles explains.
“Barbecue places in New York and Chicago are offering Carolina pork and Texas brisket – they’re offering all the great barbecue from around the country in one place. Fifteen years ago when you went to New York City you’d find very few barbecue restaurants, and they were doing just an adequate job,” Lilly says. But times have changed. “Now you can find a lot of barbecue up there, and they’re doing it just as well as in the barbecue belt.”
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