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Thursday, April 26,2012

Moe’s BBQ shows promise

By Clay Fong

Located a stone’s throw from Williams Village, Moe’s Original Bar B Que is the Boulder outpost of a ’cue operation that originated in Alabama.

Moe’s has expanded its reach to include the Centennial State as well as Georgia, Maine and North Carolina. It’s an eclectic place, abuzz with students and bluesy background music, and featuring everything from snowboards to Widespread Panic posters hanging on the wall. Most important, there’s also the tantalizing aroma of smoked meat in the air.

Moe’s possesses many of the trappings of a straight-up barbecue joint, including order-at-the-counter service. True to its Southern origins, the menu spotlights a selection of sandwiches and platters featuring several options, including hot links, brisket, fried catfish and smoked chicken wings. Nontraditional options include a Sloppy Moe vegetarian sandwich and a green salad with proteins that range from turkey to tofu.

Part of the fun of chowing down on barbecue includes relishing the requisite sides, and Moe’s offers plenty for connoisseurs to sink their teeth into. These include beans, potato salad, mac and cheese, marinated slaw and slabs of cornbread.

On the evening of our visit, daily special sides included one of seminal trumpeter Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans favorites, red beans and rice.

Friend and longtime Boulderite Steve opted for a $14 three-meat combo with smoked chicken and turkey, as well as pulled pork, accompanied by two sides, cornbread and drink.

Unfortunately, this platter arrived without pig, and led to a back-and-forth with staff where Steve had to show the receipt and plate in question before receiving our paid-for item. To their credit, staff conceded there may have been a problem with their ordering system (a possible discrepancy between what was punched in as the order and what was communicated to the kitchen) and they did give Steve a helping of chocolate ice box dessert as recompense.

The chicken displayed decent tenderness, as did the turkey, although this poultry suffered from arriving more cold than warm, and dialing back the salt would have also helped.

The pork fared best, with proper moistness and falling apart texture, enhanced by the addition of subtly sweet BBQ sauce.

A side of slaw was crisp, fresh-tasting and light, and the other accompaniment of beans distinguished itself with a pleasantly peppery accent.

For $13, I had the six-rib platter. Of all the meats we sampled, these were the hands-down winner, easy to strip off the bone, with just the right measure of smoke and doneness. This also came with two sides, including fried green tomatoes (I just had a flashback to the TV show Match Game for some reason), which featured a hot, crisp exterior and the mildly tart taste that’s a hallmark of this specialty.

The other side was the chocolate ice box pie, a smooth and creamy pudding-like dessert. For a buck extra, we also tried the enjoyable banana pudding, garnished with Nilla wafers, and I’d give this more nuanced dessert the edge over the ice box sweet.

Moe’s has potential, and a few tweaks to the service and preparation would enhance the value here. The sides showed promise, and the tender ribs certainly showed that the kitchen (or perhaps also the smoker) knows a thing or two about ’cue.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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