Speed Queen Shoulder in all its glory!
You can probably tell a lot about a person by the bbq they prefer. If they lean towards Texas Roadhouse, Famous Dave’s or Chili’s baby back ribs, they probably are the same fools who vote Olive Garden the best Italian Restaurant and Red Lobster as the best seafood restaurant in the annual polls put out by local print media. Granted, I have had enjoyable meals at both Famous Dave’s and Texas Roadhouse, but they just lack the soul of a real BBQ place. If they say Brew City, Saz’s or Pitch’s they probably like decent BBQ and want to support the local establishments, but want a more formal dinner setting as well as options well beyond BBQ ribs. If they say Speed Queen, JT Bones (RIP), or Great Northern BBQ Company you are speaking to someone who appreciates the craft of BBQ and as a bbq-head myself, these three places are my hands-down favorites. Unfortunately, JT Bones ran into some financial problems and had to close. A few weeks ago I had a chance to revisit Speed Queen, which is hailed by many as the best BBQ in the City.
So here is the drill, When you go to Speed Queen you can either go inside or get in line for the drive through. I usually opt for the drive through, though sometimes when the line is really long I will go in. They say that good things come to those who wait and that rule holds true here. Be prepared to wait 5 minutes or so to work your way up to the ordering station and another 10-15 minutes to get to the pick up window. While you wait roll down your windows (even if its 10 below) and you will immediately you smell the wood smoke (something that you could never detect outside Famous Dave’s or Texas Roadhouse). You will begin to salivate and realize why this place is so special.
When you get to the speaker and menu board beware. The menu is expansive and can be confusing for the first timer as there are so many options, including ribs, chicken, pork shoulder, fish, and a slew of side dishes. If you want, print out there menu which can be found here Take my advice and either try a rib and shoulder combo, the shoulder dinner, or my favorite the shoulder and outside combo, which is only available when they have some outside left. The outside is the exterior of the pork shoulder…the part that gets crispy, smoky and full of bbq flavor. Good luck because they run out of it quite often. Other decent items include rib tips and chicken. Get yourself a soda while you are ordering because you will want something to wash down the bbq that you sneak out of the container on your way home.
As you slowly work your way up to the window continue to take in the lovely smoke aromas. When you get to the window, put your money under the metal cup. You are moments from enjoying some of the best BBQ in the City. Crack open that styrofoam container and grab a piece of shoulder or some crispy outside and pop it in your mouth and savor the tangy, slightly spicy sauce and the smoke essence that follows. Sneak another peice or two as you drive to your desitiantion. Just try not to eat it all before you get home.