Monday, March 2, 2015

Quick Bite: Barbecue and Graffiti at Roadside BBQ.

Graffiti is usually considered an act of vandalism.  At Roadside BBQ at Proctor, it's considered the height of decor.

The red-and-white shack a block from Interstate 40 welcomes all comers
looking for a bite to eat.  Once you duck through the front entry (it's just six feet at the front eve), a long chest-high counter spreads out across the mid-section of the place, with a window into the kitchen beyond.  And on every available surface -- walls, floor, even the ceiling, there's graffiti.

A Foursquare user even says if you mention it's your first time there, they'll tack a dollar bill to the wall in your honor.  Well, we didn't do that.  We ordered our lunch and had a seat.

There weren't many people in or through, which was strange, since it was noon on a Friday.  We'd noted the Hot Tamale signs when we pulled up, Grav lamented forgetting that fact.  He had asked for barbecue pork instead.  We sat across from each other checking messages we'd missed while we were on the road, the hum of a high-powered shop heater being the only music in the air.  The lovely woman who'd taken our order brought us oversized Styrofoam cups of iced tea.

Everywhere we looked, there was graffiti, mostly in black magic marker or Sharpie, a few places hard to read scribbled in ball point pen.  There were phrases I didn't understand in Spanish, inked cartoons and caricatures, hollers out to Moline, IL and Nashville, proclamations of love and
several "wuz here" listings. At Roadside BBQ, diners routinely join an encouraged act of vandalism that serves as decoration & design. We did not add to the editorial fray.

A bell rung, and our tray was ready, two clamshell boxes, two forks and a handful of brown paper napkins.  Grav claimed it and brought it to the table.

Inside his was a small pile of sauce-drizzled pork, a toasted bun, beans and potato salad -- nothing more or less unusual than any other place we'd ever dined at that had advertised barbecue.  The sauce, Grav said, was good but the meat was very plain, without the heavy amounts of smoke
and rub we've become accustomed to.  The mayo-mustard potato salad was pretty good, though, and the beans were decent.

I had a completely different experience.  From the moment I opened my box I was smiling.  I had spotted an
Arkansas-unusual side item straight out of Memphis -- spaghetti.  This pile of sauce-swamped noodles were very soft.  The sauce itself was a straight tomato red with more than a hint of sweet barbecue to it, along with almost fine particles of ground beef throughout.  This was a real treat.  I not only ate the noodles, I dipped all the crispy fries in them as well.

My pile of beef brisket was similarly drizzled, but here it worked.  Unlike what I've encountered at other places, the fat was obviously not trimmed before smoking, and the flavors from the fatty crust blended throughout the meat.  I was very satisfied, even having it on a toasted buttered bun without even a hint of coleslaw.

We didn't go for dessert (we were on our way across the South and didn't have much time to stop) but I did note the enormous slices of yellow cake on a rack by the register.

Roadside BBQ
196 Arkansas 147 (one block south of Interstate 40)
Proctor, AR 72376
(870) 733-9208
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1 comment:

Be kind.