Iowa has pork, but when it comes to barbecue styles, our neighbors to the south in Kansas City, Memphis, the Carolinas and Georgia may have us beat. Still, we have some great spots for trying regional barbecue here in Des Moines. Here are a few places to try.
Characterized by: Ribs and brisket doused in a sticky sweet sauce are the star of Kansas City barbecue. KC barbecue, which is the most commonly found type in Des Moines, is messy barbecue, so be sure to have plenty of wet naps near by to wipe up the mess.
Find it: Try the brisket or burnt ends (ends of smoked beef brisket, trimmed off, smoked again, then smothered in sauce) at Smokey D’s BBQ (1210 Locust St., 601 Locust St. in the skywalk, and 5055 N.W. Second Ave.) and top it with the restaurant’s mild sauce, which tastes most like ketchup, or “sassy,” a hotter version with a sweet kick.
Characterized by: A mustard-heavy, semi-sweet sauce with a hint of vinegar and lots of pepper. This sauce is typically lighter in color.
Find it: Jethro’s BBQ, 3100 Forest Ave., makes its own Georgia mustard sauce that it keeps on every table, so you can slather it all over your pulled pork served on Texas toast, or just try a dab on your wood-smoked hot wings.
Characterized by: Dry pork ribs that aren’t completely slathered in sauce, but are smoked with a dry rub to create a full-flavored dish without the mess (well, at least not as much mess). Sauces are a thin mix of tangy and sweet, made with ketchup and vinegar.
Try it: The Memphis-style rib dinner at Flying Mango, 4345 Hickman Road, is a finger-licking good way to taste Tennessee’s ‘cue.
Characterized by: A thin barbecue sauce with a vinegar base instead of a tomato base. Pulled pork sandwiches are often topped with a heaping helping of coleslaw.
Try it: Try the vinegar sauce at Uncle Wendell’s BBQ, 2716 Ingersoll Ave., to add a little pucker to your meat, then top it all with coleslaw.