While we all agree in this house that Central City BBQ is the best in town, we live on the north shore and our choices are less in number and stature. That is not to say that a good barbecue plate can’t be had over here.
The Hansells of Oxlot 9 had a fantastic barbecue place that we miss terribly, called Smoke. One of the many things we liked about the recent lockdown (besides hanging out in jammies all day) was that the Smoke menu was available again at Oxlot 9.
Well, a tiny part of the menu, and we’ve had it a lot. Today I was passing another barbecue spot called Sticks BBQ, which used to be called Sticks And Bones. The new owners told me that they changed the name because they got tired of people thinking it was Sticks And Stones.
The menu items are just as good as they were when the name was goofier. There were always interesting things to get here. This time, I got sliders. One brisket and the other pork for $10.50, and that came with their fresh cut fries. Another plate I got was called the Chopped Cheezy, which was a sandwich of chopped brisket and mac’n’cheese. And that came with a side of coleslaw for $13.75.
This is very nice barbecue. It’s not as good as the sadly-defunct Smoke or Central City, but those are not available to us. I’d say this is a step below those two but will certainly suffice when a barbecue fix is needed. The meats have that salty smoky flavor so desirable in good barbecue. To me, barbecue has to have good sides to go with it. Too many times the meat is perfect and the sides really substandard. You don’t see that as much anymore now that higher-end barbecue places have proliferated. The competition has forced standards up.
The sides here work very well. The collards with brisket bits are not as sweet as some versions of this I’ve had. The mac’n’ceese is basic but fine. The beans very good. I prefer a creamier coleslaw than this one, but it’s a refreshing alternative - chopped well but not too much, and on the lighter side. The french fries are fresh cut and an excellent surprise.
Besides the extra step taken to do fresh cut fries, there are always interesting specials here. There’s a potato skins appetizer with pork or brisket and a slab of grilled pimento cheese on top has always been especially good. The jalapeno grit cake piles atop with pulled pork is something we have our eyes on for the future. They’ve also recently made their many popular Tex-Mex specials (think BBQ tacos, nachos, and enchiladas) a permanent part of the menu.
There are now two locations of Sticks since the new owners took over, and both are quite busy. This is the second best barbecue we’ve ever had here on the north shore. And with the best gone, we’ll go back here, and often.