A few months ago when we started this BBQ Pit Crawl I think all of us had one major thought in mind. What a great excuse to get out and eat at our favorite BBQ spots. But it quickly became more than that. A chance for five guys to make each other laugh, de-stress from the daily grind, help people find where to go for good CUE, and most of all adventure. To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”.
So while taking a detour from Baldwin City, Kansas and passing through Gardner Kansas, out of the corner of my eye there it was -Smoke N Babes BBQ. Never heard of it? Neither had I till then, but that’s when I decided that all of my choices on this tour were going to be places I’ve never been and with a bit of luck places I’ve never even heard of. So this Adventure begins at 213 E. Main Street Gardner, Kansas 66030. The place is small, so don’t blink as you drive by, and when you go in be prepared to bump knees with the rest of the patrons. It’s about the size of your average bedroom with something like four or five tables strategically placed. The walls are mostly painted like a chalk board for customers to draw on while their food is being prepared. Their hours are short during the early week 11:00am to 2:00pm, However they're open till 8:00pm Thursday through Saturday. So if its dinner you want go later in the week.
Jack our chicken man had the chicken dinner with fries and corn nuggets, Zach had the burnt ends dinner with beans and cole slaw, Travis had the half slab baby back dinner with fries and fried green beans, Dennis had the carolina style pulled pork sandwich with corn nuggets, I had the burnt end sandwich with fries and beans, and Dennis and myself shared a half slab of baby back ribs and a combo sandwich that had spicy sausage and brisket.
So lets start with the meats! The chicken was smoked perfect with nice texture and a good flavor. It pulled from the bone with ease and was tasty and moist. The ribs were also smoked well with great texture, pulling from the bone nicely. We had the baby backs because they were sold out of their spare ribs which I was told was their specialty. The ribs were sauced but only after they were pulled from the smoker, so if you're on the dry side of the WET VS DRY RIB WAR you might ask to not have them sauced. The pulled pork on the carolina style sandwich was good, but we thought the slaw didn’t have much flavor. The burnt ends were among some of the best I’ve ever had. Cooked with the perfect amount of smoke and as tender as any I’ve ever had the pleasure to eat. The sausage was a huge hit as well. We had the spicy sausage on our sandwich. For those of you who don’t like the heat they also have a regular sausage. It was tender and sweet with the right amount of heat and no toughness. Last but not least comes the brisket. Wow I loved this brisket. It was chopped not sliced-- which is a bit more common in the south. Personally I like it both ways, however in this case it was the perfect texture for the flavors used to cook this meat. Sweet and spicy with hints of smokey hard woods.
Now Lets talk sides and sauces. Two sauces sat on the tables regular and hot. Between the two we all felt the spicy sauce was far better. Nothing wrong with the regular just not nearly as memorable. The fries were good, but just fries. I’m a seasoned fry guy myself. The cole slaw as we said earlier didn’t have much flavor, and the corn nuggets were a bit under cooked. I should note Dennis thought they were cooked fine and even though I thought they were a bit under done I also thought they were sweet and tastier than many I’ve had. The fried green beans had a perfect batter on them to complement the bean and the baked beans were some of our favorites as well.
All in all we greatly enjoyed our visit along this path and I hope we left a trail for others to follow.