In the last year we may have eaten more barbecue in the Twin Cities metro than in our previous 13 years here. We’ve certainly eaten barbecue from more restaurants than ever before: Ted Cook’s 19th Hole, Smoke in the Pit, Firebox, Black Market StP. Hell, we even got barbecue at opposite ends of the spectrum from Tenant during their pandemic takeout pivot and the far humbler Quarterback Club here in our town. Some of these have been among the best restaurant meals we’ve eaten since the pandemic began; all have been at least solid. Which brings me to our latest round of takeout barbecue, which we picked up from Rack Shack in Eagan on Saturday. Located right off Cedar Avenue (on Cliff Road in the strip mall that also houses Atomic Liquors), they’ve caught my eye in the past as well and so I was interested to finally try their fare. I’m sorry to say that while there were a few things we like fine, on the whole, this was the most uneven of our barbecue outings. Herewith the details.
It’s a compact restaurant a casual layout. I’m not sure if they’re still social distancing but tables were nicely spaced when we stopped by. They seem to be having staffing issues right now—they were set to close at 3 pm as a result instead of their usual 8 pm—but the entire menu was available. This menu includes all the usual barbecue all-stars: ribs, rib tips, pulled pork, brisket. Less typically it also features pulled turkey and chicken (the latter featuring breasts). These can be purchased by the pound or in the form of meals or combos. In addition there are burgers and sandwiches and a whole stable of fries and sauces. What did we get?
It was going to be just the four of us for a change. We got three meals—with the rib tips, pulled pork and brisket. Each meal came with two sides and two sauces. And we added on a half rack of ribs. The meat was a mixed bag: the ribs were fine and the rib tips and pulled pork were also unobjectionable if nothing very special. The brisket, however, was tired and dry. I don’t know if what we got is representative but it was really not very good. And the sides were mostly disappointing as well. The six we picked were the corn bread, the smoked potato, the bacon-tater salad, the slaw, the bbq beans and the fries. Of these the fries and corn bread were fine. Everything else was either utterly blah, unseasoned (the slaw and potato salad seemed entirely devoid of salt) or both.
We got almost the entire array of bbq sauces but only really liked three of the six: the New Orleans Ghost (with ghost peppers), the Houston Fire and the Carolina Vinegar. The sweet sauces were entirely too sweet and the mild ones were devoid of character. But we may be in the minority here—they sell bottles of their mild St. Paulie Savory which we found quite boring. They also sell, I noted, t-shirts with the phrase “Nice Rack” emblazoned across the chest. So it may not be only the sauce where our tastes don’t align.
For a look at the space and our meal, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much it all cost, for final thoughts and to see what’s probably coming next.
With tax and a 20% tip this came to just over $86. Which was fine for the amount of food we got. Though the meat portions in the meal combos are not over-large, there was enough left over for another meal for the boys. So it wasn’t an expensive outing on the whole. I’m not sure if we we’ll go back anytime soon but based on our meal I will recommend the following to anyone who has not been: either the ribs or the pulled pork with a side of the cornbread and one of the hotter sauces. If your experience is different or if you want to put in a word for the smoked chicken or turkey—or if you just want to tell me I’m wrong—please write in below. Also please write in if there are other barbecue places in the metro that you think we should get to for sure.
Okay, what’s next on the food front? The boys have been asking for tandoori chicken and so odds are good that we’ll be getting Indian food next weekend. Probably either Indian Masala or Godavari (the two top places in my personal rankings of Twin Cities metro Indian places). Let’s see how it goes.