Years ago I stumbled upon an unprepossessing storefront in Citrus Heights that dished out some of the best barbecue this side of the Manson Dixon (a line running roughly through the middle of California from Corcoran (Charlie Manson’s current home) to Dixon, CA). The only drawback to said ‘cue establishment was the location, which was, and I’m being generous here, pretty damned shitty. Well, the storefront closed and said ‘cueing enterprise went virtual, doing catering, farmer’s markets, and insurance office openings (nothing says “on your side” like a plate full of brisket) before finding a new home in the center of Downtown.
Big Joe’s BBQ, like the phoenix, has risen from the ashes that is Citrus Heights to reemerge on the grand stage under the shadow of City Hall. It’s a triumphant return indeed. Joe hasn’t lost a step. The menu is simple, straighforward, and ‘cue-tastic, or maybe ‘que-licious, or how about bar-b-kickass.
You can go with smoked hot link, smoked brisket, grilled tri-tip (kind of Joe to accommodate that California tradition), hot dogs, chicken, pulled pork, and a list of sides a mile long. But it’s all become pointless now that I’ve tasted Joe’s smoked, bacon-wrapped tenderloin sandwich. A Tuesday special, it’s insanely good, especially with a side of Joe’s potato salad, which might be the best tater salad in town. It’s smoky yet light, tighly packed in a solid french roll and topped with your choice of sauce. The classic barbecue sandwich, it’s made of meat and bread, that’s it. Screw the lettuce, tomato, and other cloying crap served only to make you feel good about yourself. Meat and bread. Done. Mayo? Mustard? Go screw yourself. Pickles? I hope you die in a fire. Meat and bread, sauce on the side. End of goddamned story.
My only complaint, ok two complaints, are these. 1. Joe’s sauce doesn’t have enough differentiation among the mild, medium, and spicy varieties. The flavors are good, but I like a little more oomph in the spicy, and more sweetness in the mild. I will say that this is a bit of a personal perference thing though. 2. Right now, Joe is only open Monday-Friday, 10:30-5:00. I’m guessing that might change as business picks up (and when/if Joe gets a beer/wine license), but for right now, it’s tough to go and grab some ribs for dinner unless you work across the street.
Big Joe’s BBQ- 1000 I St, Downtown Sacramento
Food **** Atmosphere ** Serivce ***