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November 04, 2004
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FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Barbecue Bonanza 2

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What I hate about barbecue restaurants is all the fake stuff. You know what I mean. All the fake faded signs and the fake used fishing tackle and the faux dead animals on the walls and the pre-fab phoniness that characterizes chain barbecue restaurants... all of it trying to appeal to the yokel in all of us.

I know some of the stuff is real, and I actually liked seeing a six-pack of real Nehi bottles at Famous Dave's. But as soon as I felt a warm fuzzy hit me over seeing a soft drink I loved as a kid, I realized I was being manipulated by a bunch of accountants. And I secretly resent all the customers who embrace the fakeness but who would run from a real barbecue shack like a long tailed cat from a room full o' rocking chairs........ So I just feel used and abused, and most of all, insulted whenever I get within a hickory stick of any of 'em.

None of this may matter to you-whether you're a yokel or not. You may actually LIKE the bogus hominess that adorns the walls at a place like Lucille's or Famous Dave's, but I just find it offensive. In fact I make it a point never to eat underneath a sign that says PENNZOIL or FISHIN' LICENSES SOLD HERE.

I engage in this personal form of reverse snobbery because I spent the better part of my youth seeking out the best barbecue that Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas or the Carolinas have to offer. I discount Texas because they're all about beef there.....although that sandwich at Otto's in Houston was greeaa......But I digress.

What I'm getting at is: there may be a lot o' folks who've eaten more smoked pig in the Deep South than this pilgrim, but you're not gonna find 'em in this state.

So when I tell you that Lucille's is about as authentic as I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter-you'd better believe it. The sauce is so sweet, and the smoke so elusive, I describe it as barbecue for the candy bar lover in you. To be fair, the sides are scrumptious, and the peach cobbler is a winner, but sides and sweets are not what a barbecue restaurant is about.

Famous Dave's is barely better. A little more smoke makes their fat back ribs much tastier. And the sauces are so good that I can forgive some guy from Minnesota for trying to cop a vibe from Du Valls Bluff Arkansas or Bogart Georgia. But his Georgia Mustard Sauce really should be labeled as South Carolinian (believe me, it's a big deal back there), and the big chunky-chopped pork sandwich elevates quantity over quality. Go there if you must, but for true smoky succulence, neither completes with Memphis Barbecue, the hands down winner in my two week barbecue binge.

Lucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
The District at Green Valley Ranch
Henderson NV 89052
257.7427

Famous Dave's BBQ
1951 N. Rainbow Blved
Las Vegas, NV 89108
646.5631

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