Red Hot and Blue Memphis Pit Bar-B-Que ~ North Richland Hills, Texas
Oh boy, now I'm in trouble. The Texas guys are out in front decrying that Memphis barbecue is flat out inferior. And the Memphis boys follow with the observation that Red Hot and Blue isn't real Tennessee barbecue as they're a chain from Virginia for crying out loud. And then there's perhaps the bigger problem with chaining a barbecue joint in the first place. Just how good can it be anyway?
Well if I didn't have any street cred with barbecue aficionados before, I'm really going to kill it now: I like Red Hot and Blue. And have so ever since I first sat foot in the NRH location some 10 years ago, not long after first arriving in Northeast Tarrant. Now it's not a place we frequent much - witness its debut into the RJG 5+ years later - but it's always been consistently excellent. And I've also been to the North Dallas and Las Colinas stores for business meets, and everyone always comes out happy. But it's the NRH location that we go back to during our leisure hours.
The one platter that I really enjoy is the 5 meat sampler - which used to be a pure Atkins play of meat, meat, and more meat. Now they've added beans and a side, which are really unnecessary. Especially considering their baked beans are of the Boston sweet variety, which I've never acquired a taste for. As for the side, I ended up with fries, which were good, but sort of defeats the purpose of a meat platter. Anyway, that's not the point here.. so let's get to the meats shall we?
And here's where Red Hot and Blue shines every time. I love their sausage, which features a great recipe. Even the barbecue snobs will acquiesce on this point. RH&B's dry rubbed ribs are fantastic. I love the seasoning and the fall-off-the-bone meat. Now I see plenty of folks go on about their brisket being subpar, but I have to disagree. Plenty of smoked rind goodness there - and tender as well. And probably the one thing they do that I think is fantastic, but have seen others disagree, is their pulled pork. Again, the flavor penetrates throughout, and it's always tender - never tough. The one downer is something they introduced recently: Pulled smoked chicken. What the heck? The smoked turkey was awesome! Put it back on the platter! The chicken was tough and dry - and lacking the great flavor of the other meats. The other aspect of Red Hot and Blue we love is the selection of barbecue sauces. Not that good 'cue needs it, but I like it as an option. And most certainly the chicken needed help. And there's no better sauce to dip in than the Hoochie Coochie sauce. It's a very spicy blend, that really adds up on the heat! Oh, and I forgot the mention the honey sweet bread that comes before the meal. Another huge plus. They have plenty of good beers to wash the meal down with - though don't go looking for local craft brews. But a few more than the usual options exist.
Red Hot and Blue is a chain that seems to be on the down slope of its lifecycle. The chain has closed many stores across the US, including the one they had in Southlake (which we also never stepped foot in). I think it's a matter of too much excellent local competition. And the RJG certainly applauds that. But we still drop by Red Hot and Blue on occasion. It's just too good not to.