It's the middle of summer, and LJ and I decided to go on a road trip. To America. Down into New York to Syracuse. The main part of the trip was shopping at outlet malls, but I had an ulterior motive. I wanted BBQ.
I had heard about Dinosaur Bar-B-Que as legendary. Ok maybe not legendary, but people I have spoken with, reviews I had read online all pointed to this being a great spot. Crazy busy, crazy popular. I had heard about the giant line-ups of tourists and locals alike. So off we went.
Lunch seemed to be the logical time to go - less people. Located downtown in a slightly shady part of town, we arrived. We parked and as we walked along the side of the building, noticed barrels with table tops down the street. Not sure why at the time, we found out later that this is for people to eat at when they can't get seating, or for waiting for seating. We thought we might have to wait outside to eat on picnic tables, but we were able to get seating inside.
Inside it was jammed full of people. We were led into a far back room where the main bar was. The place felt like a biker bar, but full of families. Every inch of the place had bar and blues memorabilia everywhere. It was loud, not because of music, but because of how many people were there.
Our waitress was Jess, who seemed like a 'cool chick.' She was helpful and was there for us despite being very busy. We decided to do a bunch of sampling because, well there is so much to try.
For a drink, I went with the pint of Saranac Root Beer on Draft ($2.50). This was a good root beer - creamy, vanilla with just a bit of a bite.
I love when the bbq sauce is right at your table. Oh, and hot sauce too. I'm surprised people don't steal these more often (or maybe they do . . .)
SMALL SWAG SAMPLE ($10.50)
Our appetizer platter came out and we dug in:
- Catfish Strips: perfectly fried, crispy/crunchy breading, tender white peices of fish. Very good.
- Fried Green Tomatoes: Never had this before - tasted like breaded zuccini - crispy light breading, nicely accented by the shredded romano cheese.
- Deviled Eggs: Good. I mean, hard to mess up deviled eggs. Weird as a dish at a restaurant, but good.
- Wings: (see below)
PORK BRISKET PLATE (13.95)
LJ's dish with 2 meats and two sides:
- Beef Brisket: Tender, but no real flavour (smoked or otherwise). BBQ sauce helped.
- Pulled Pork: Also not much flavour - BBQ sauce again helped.
- Mac & Cheese: (side) - LJ really enjoyed this. Very cheesy.
- Fries: (side) not bad - crispy, but nothing special
- Honey Hush Cornbread: Sweet cornbread - a little dry, but still good.
TRES NINOS ($14.50)
My BBQ platter - the smaller version of the "Tres Hombres" - we had so much food already I didn't need a big 3 meat platter.
- St. Louis Pork Ribs: Very good - great bark, nice smokey flavour, little tug off the bone. These were the BBQ highlights of the restaurant.
- Pulled Pork: see platter above
- Beef Brisket: see platter above
- Cole Slaw: A little creamy, a little tangy. Not too shabby.
- Bar-B-Que Beans: Runny, but not bad. I'd try something different next time.
Oh, and don't forget the wings from the Small Swag Sampler.
I like that at Dino BBQ you can order wings in orders of 3, 6 or 13 because if you just want a taste, you can just have a taste. Now we didn't order wings on their own, we got them in a sample dish, so I only had 2 wings to try from, but tried I did.
I had two wings: one wing was super meaty and a medium in length (see above). The other wing was just at the medium measurements. The wings are spice rubbed, then pit smoked. When they are ready, they are grilled. The downside is they were tough and the skin wasn't crispy.
The upside is that there was levels of flavour. You have the initial rub, then the smoking. The grilling adds some more and then finished with the sauce you have a plethora of spice and savoriness.
FINAL SCORE: I loved the vibe of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. It's cool, it's friendly and I can see why so many people flock here. I wasn't floored by the BBQ itself, but I wouldn't sneer at it either. I did love the sides. I enjoyed the ribs. The wings were tasty, but I did find them tough and not very tender. Nor were they jumbo as advertised, but my sampling was not huge either. 5/10
Syracuse New York USA (and other locations)