Big Joe’s BBQ

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Dipping your mop into the world of barbecue can be a precarious business. Other than pizza and burgers, there is no other food that Americans are more opinionated about. Some folks insist that your cooking vessel makes all the difference, whether it’s a kettle smoker, a barrel smoker, an egg shaped smoker, a flux-capacitor based meat vaporizer or just the back of an ’84 Celica. Other barbecue Einsteins insist that it’s all about the sauce, whether it’s a mustard sauce, or a tomato sauce, or a molasses sauce, or a vinegar sauce, or a tears-of-a-dolphin sauce. Don’t even start me on dry rubs.

So, suffice it to say, interjecting an opinion about anything barbecue is dangerous. That being said, I’m going to stick my neck out here. Are you ready for it? Can you take it?

Big Joe’s BBQ is the best barbecue in Sacramento.

Owners Joe Dunlap and Kathie Pine know what they’re doing. The menu sticks to the basics–pork, hot links, tri-tip, ribs, chicken–with the standard compliment of sides–beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, greens, and cornbread. And every part of that menu, at least every part I tried, was flawless. The hot links were smoky and juicy, the red potato salad was dense and flavorful, the beans were sweet and spicy, and the cornbread was just about perfect, neither too sweet nor too plain.

The one element of the meal that could have been improved, and we’re talking only a fractional improvement here, is Joe’s sauce. The spicy and hot sauces were just a little too two-dimensional. I tend to like more sweet undertones in my barbecue sauce, and at least four dimensions–sweet, hot, spicy, and space-time.

More than anything though, more than the warm reception from Joe and Kathie, more than the myriad compliments that diners all around me were making about the spectacular ribs, more than the glory of the MLB’s opening day, what really swayed me in favor of Big Joe’s BBQ were the answers to three simple questions I posed to the owners:

Q: How hot is your hot sauce?
A: Depends how I’m feeling that day.
Q: You make the corn bread in house?
A: We make everything in house.
Q: Vehicle Voltron or Lion Voltron?
A: Vehicle Voltron…duh.

Ok, I made up that last one, but there’s no doubt that Joe and Kathie are doing the lord’s work in their little corner of Citrus Heights. Speaking of Citrus Heights, I’m sure I’m not the only one that would love it if their storefront were a little closer to home (my home that is), and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love this type of food in a more fleshed out restaurant with a beer and wine license rather than the small, bare-bones storefront that Joe’s currently calls home.

Other than the ambiance, or lack thereof, of the small strip mall location, there’s really nothing more you can ask of Joe’s. That is, unless you have some burning questions about Ultra Man, or my favorite, M.A.S.K.

Big Joe’s BBQ- 7967 Auburn Blvd, Citrus Heights
Food**** Atmosphere** Service****
Big Joe's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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6 Responses to Big Joe’s BBQ

  1. big joe says:

    thanks for the good review guys.i remember you coming in. and we do serve beer

  2. flarnold says:

    Hey, I’ve traveled from Phoenix, AZ to eat this great food at Big Joe’s, and it’s worth the trip.

  3. rah62 says:

    That address is in Citrus Heights, not Sacramento. So, it can’t be the best BBQ in Sacramento.

    Sandra Dee’s still rules!

  4. Global Illuminati says:

    9 out of 10 Global Illuminati enjoy the sound of Big Joe’s BBQ. The remaining 1 Global Illuminat does not partake of non-human blood sustinance, and so has no opinion on this matter (but does enjoy Sac-Eats’ reviews). Thus, among those expressing a preference, 100% of Global Illuminati plan on going to Big Joe’s. We can be identified by our natural cotten ~:clothes:~, and yummy sandlewood scent. Oh- and by our big bag of documents regarding our world domination plans, 9/11 plans, mortgage crisis plans, media control plans, photos of Hillary with a horse, photos of Bill with Hillary, photos of McCain with no makeup, etc. Alas, no photos of Ron Paul doing anything untoward… yet.

  5. wburg says:

    I may have to stop by next time I’m visiting the old stomping grounds. And yeah, that’s in Citrus Heights, unless sac-eats is arguing that this is the best BBQ in Sacramento County.

  6. John says:

    You should also try Southern Komfort Cafe. I think they were voted best BBQ in Citrus Heights like 3 years in a row now. Not sure what the address is though. I think it’s right across the street…