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Restaurant review: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
How do you know you’re in a serious barbecue restaurant? That is, if you don’t see a smoker in the parking lot? That’s easy: when the tables are bedecked in blue-and-white-checked plastic tablecloths.
Another telltale sign is if, like at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a fine new eatery at Southpoint, there’s a prominent photo of one of America’s favorite “outlaws,” Waylon Jennings, along with another, of his weapon of choice, a Fender Telecaster, adorning the walls.
Dickey’s décor, which consists primarily of barn wood and corrugated steel, promotes a very industrial, modern steakhouse look. Adding to the functional vibe, the food comes out on heavy aluminum half sheet pans. (I love that touch!)
Oh, and there’s lots and lots of signage—bright yellow, with bold black lettering—that recalls road-work advisories. Or those CAUTION: MEN WORKING signs.
Hey, even the disposable dishes and accoutrements have got text on them, like “I’m a napkin ” or “I’m a side item ” And their durable, plastic soft-drink “Big Yellow Cups” read: “I’m a souvenir. Don’t leave me. Take me home. I’m reusable, recyclable, dishwasher and microwave safe.” How about “waterproof” or “shock resistant” while we’re at it? I mean, as long as they’re tooting their own horn.
Everything is a little too wordy; it made me feel more than a little manipulated, as if I were being herded down a cattle chute. I suppose they’re just being upfront about not simply selling single sandwiches here, but also takeout, online and catering services, and even franchising opportunities.
But with barbecue as good as theirs, they don’t need the hard-sell. After a couple of mouthfuls, I was already imagining myself in my own barbecue shack, slinging sassy brisket and pulled pork to smiling passersby.
I say just let the product speak for itself: Take a cue from Texas Roadhouse, where they’ve learned to “speak softly and carry a big steak.”
So how good is the ’cue, on a scale of say, “lip-smacking” to “knee-slapping”? Well, Dickey’s is off-the-charts good, all the way to “nose-running,” in the way that the very best barbecue has of making you feel as if you haven’t taken a truly deep, honest breath in between your barbecue fixes.
To be sure, their ’cue needs some dressing up. And the restaurant is only too happy to oblige, with three different sauces with mainly differing degrees of heat to distinguish them. There’s a sweet brown-sugar sauce, the “original” sauce and a hot-and-spicy sauce.
My wife had the Lil’ Hoagie with pulled pork on a toasted bun, along with a pair of sides, potato salad and fried okra, which she called “sinful.” I went with the Wednesday special, a pulled pork, Polish sausage and cheese sandwich, and a pair of sides the counterman recommended—mac and cheese, and baked potato casserole. The mac and cheese tasted, if anything, a little too cheesy, and was a bit runny for my taste, but the scoop of baked potato casserole had a nice texture and was well-seasoned.
One image of Dickey’s really brought the spirit of ’cue home for me, but it wasn’t that black-and-white shot of honky-tonk hero Jennings. It was the sight of a fellow diner—a professional man in business-casual dress, seated at a table, his smartphone within easy reach and a big plate of barbecue in front of him.
He’d spread a pair of napkins in his lap, one for each of his meaty thighs, to catch any drippings. Just a guy sitting down to some serious eats, knowing things might get a little messy. CAUTION: MEN EATING.
What: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit
Address: 10008 Southpoint Parkway, Spotsylvania
Info: 540/710-0700; dickeys.com or find them on Facebook
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Prices: Sandwiches: $4–$7.25 (add two sides for $3); Meat plates: $7.95–$12.95; Kids menu: $4.95
The Scoop: New fast-casual BBQ joint is conveniently located in front of American Family Fitness in Southpoint to help folks add back the calories they’ve just worked off.
Kurt Rabin: 540/374-5000 | firstname.lastname@example.org