Do you remember the radio commercial for Mr. Barbecue? “Eat Mr. Barbecue, it’s good for you. Eat Mr. Barbecue, it’s fun to chew! Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs & fries; the best doggone barbecue and taste-tempting pies.” Jerry and I met friends for dinner at Mr. Barbecue on Wednesday before the Marketplace Cinemas showing of the Tugg movie, Knights of Badassdom. We also had lunch there on Friday; this article will share our experiences of both visits. We ordered at the counter, and waited for our food to be prepared. Longer cooking items were brought out to our table. My best friend from high school, ‘K’, had the BBQ Salad ($5.85) with iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, green peppers. The chopped BBQ that topped the salad was tender and lean with little bits of bark.
I had the rib plate ($12.60) with hushpuppies, potato salad, and white slaw. The half-rack of already separated ribs had a nice outer bark and fell off the bone when I went to take a bite. However, they were too fatty for my tastes. I think if they were cooked longer at a lower temperature that would remedy the issue. The potato salad had a mayonnaise dressing with a bit of mustard and sweet pickle. I liked the oblong hushpuppies with flecks of black pepper in the cornmeal.
Jerry had the ¼ BBQ chicken with hushpuppies, BBQ slaw, and fries ($6.45). The side of dip was sweet and tangy with plenty of black pepper. I particularly enjoyed tearing off some of the juicy breast meat and dunking it in the sauce. Jerry would have liked the chicken to be a little more fall apart tender but it wasn’t undercooked by any means. He ordered a pint of chicken livers ($5.20) for us to share. They were cooked to order with a well-seasoned crunchy outside and a tender, moist center. This was our favorite dish of the evening.
On Friday, Jerry and I returned for lunch. The restaurant was hopping with customers arriving as soon as a table opened up. Everything seemed to flow well; we didn’t notice any bottlenecks. I ordered the daily special ($5.59), two hot dogs all the way (add $1.50/dog) with fries and iced tea. The hotdogs were simply prepared and perfect. The bun was toasted and the dogs were grilled on a flat-top then loaded with chili, white slaw, mustard, and chopped onion. The chili was amazing, and I plan to get a pint to-go when we return. We wouldn’t have thought about ordering dogs at a BBQ place except we saw so many other people getting them. I think the hotdogs fixed all the way are the best item on the menu.
Jerry had the 3-piece fried chicken dinner ($7.09) with hushpuppies, mashed potatoes & gravy, and baked beans. We think that the dinner came with either 7 or 8 hushpuppies but we can’t be sure because we had already dug in before we remembered to count for our review. Those little deep fried cornmeal nuggets are addictive. The piping hot chicken (breast, thigh and leg) was lightly floured, fried crisp, and was so moist juices dripped out as we tore into the chicken. Overall the chicken is very tasty, but we prefer a bit more salt in the seasoned flour. The homemade cream style mashed potatoes were topped with brown gravy. The baked beans had onion, green pepper, and bacon in them.
One of the menu items had a name that peaked my curiosity. I knew we would be taking food home with us, but I had to try the Carolina Hot Legs (7 chicken legs for $8.95). This dish took their full-sized fried chicken legs and tossed them in a Texas Pete wing sauce. We both liked the extra zing added by the hot sauce. The hot legs stood on their own, and we didn’t use the blue cheese for dipping after we tried the first bite. If you order the fried chicken, it will take 10-15 minutes to prepare, and the counter person will bring it to your table when it’s ready. We took home a pint of banana pudding (on special for $2.25) for an afternoon snack. Make room for dessert while you are at Mr. Barbecue if you can. The pudding had ripe bananas, softened vanilla wafers, and a meringue topping, so wonderfully sweet. Mr. Barbecue has thrived for over fifty years, and we see why customers continue to return time after time.