I recently moved to Hyde Park. Hyde Park! It’s hip. It’s cool. It’s like nice Tampa. Nice. And it’s filled with many small, fun, locally owned places to eat. Perfect! It’s perfect. Except for one thing…
DOUCHEBAGS! DOUCHEBAGS EVERYWHERE! Yes, this is the curse of Hyde Park – scads of douchebags, drinking, dancing, and making out all over the place. Howard in particular, what with its MacDinton’s and World of Beers, is overrun by these yuppie thirty-something bastards, and each and every one of them is just as guilty as the next of making the world a terrible place.
So, let that be the backdrop to this evening’s particular food stop, for right across from the World of Beer on Howard sits this:
This is Ribit’s BBQ. A barbecue place, in the middle of Hyde Park, open until 3 am. Wow! I was not expecting this! Of course I got excited. I love barbecue! I love late night! And most of all, I love blatant copyright infringement! Wait-
Okay. So their mascot is a clearly ripped off Michigan J. Frog with a cowboy hat. Hm. Alright well that’s okay. It’s just theft. But look at their place! It’s so fun. It’s like, what… some sort of converted lube shop? Neat. And what’s that noise? No, not the douchebag playing acoustic covers across the street, it’s something coming from the barbecue place! It’s… oh god no they’re blasting country music.
So maybe there are some problems. But that’s okay! No place is perfect. Let’s get in there. Let’s do this.
So they have a window where you order, and a little counter where you pay and they bring the food out to you. Seating is outside, and in a small area to the side. The menu features pork ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken breast, and sausage. They have a bunch of sides, both hot and cold, and have a few combos – Piggy (one meat, two sides for $10.99), Porky (two sides, two meats, $17.99), and Oinkie (four meats, no sides. $39.99). Wow! A small side by itself is $3.99. Well alright. Corn dog – $4.99. So prices. Eh. I went ahead and got the porky platter.
I went with the ribs and pulled pork for the meats, feeling that they best represented standard barbecue fare. As for the sides, I foolishly asked for a recommendation from the lady taking my order, so instead of the collard greens and baked beans I had been planning to get, I ended up with potato salad and cheddar macaroni salad. Two salads. Yaaay.
…did I mention the country music? There was really loud country music!
So let’s get down to it – the meat. The true test of a barbecue place. All that matters; the beginning and the end. The meat. How was the meat?
The meat sucked.
Arg. ARG. The meat was pretty crappy. Now, to be fair, the meat itself was probably decent. Not bad cuts of meat, big ribs. But what they did to it! It was… it was nuked. Scorched. Burnt to a crisp. The ribs were all char. It was not a smokey flavor. It was like eating cigarette butts. The meat underneath the char would have been decent, but you just couldn’t get past that char. It was overwhelming. My hands smelled like it. And the pulled pork was dry. Both were tough. My theory is that rather than cooking it slowly at a lower heat, they cooked it quickly by way of flamethrower. Or napalm.
They offered up four different types of sauces. From left to right above, it is spicy, tangy, vinegar, and sweet. All served out of giant coolers with spigots. The spicy was good!! It reminded me of a barbecue place I used to go to a long time ago in Wesley Chapel, which is now a medical clinic or something (RIP Peacocks Smokehouse). A bit spicy, with a well balanced, full flavor. The sweet was second best, made better by combining it with the spicy. The tangy was a sort of mustard based sauce, with a bit of sweet up front and a bite at the end. It was alright, but easy to get sick of. The vinegar-based sauce was just bland and boring, tasting like… well, vinegar.
The surprise winner of the night was the potato salad, voted “most tolerable” by me! It was actually pretty good, made with those little red potato dudes, skins still in there. A perfect blend of ingredients. The cheddar macaroni salad was bland and boring.
Oh, and there was country music playing! My girlfriend halfheartedly offered to do the electric slide, but then pussied out. So many disappointments.
Really, all that can be said about this place is that they served bottles of Mexican Coke (they did not even make their own sweet tea!!!! Outrage!!). My bill totaled 25 bucks. That was for one person. The whole thing was utterly disappointing. I knew late night barbecue was too good to be true.
The evening came to a close as the douchebags from across the street rebelled against their own, slaughtering the acoustic cover band and burning the World of Beer to the ground. The barbecue place responded by turning the country music up louder. My girlfriend’s sister puked. I had a panic attack. My girlfriend did not do the electric slide. Ribit’s mascot did this:
…and a good time was had by all. Fuck you, Ribit’s.