By Shelby Clark Petkus
Detroit is known for a variety of foods: Coney Dogs, square pizza and Better Made chips. Detroit barbecue hasn’t made its mark on the national consciousness yet, but Detroit’s Rub BBQ Pub could put its meat on the map.
Rub is located next to its sister restaurant, Taqo Detroit, just blocks away from Comerica Park and the Fox Theater. Some metered parking on the street is available.
The spacious bar, decorated with an eclectic mix of Detroit sports memorabilia and odd notions (like a life-size Elvis), can seat large groups or just one or two people at the bar.
The full bar offers a variety of drinks, with craft beer the focus. Featuring over 60 taps and even more bottles, Rub hosts a variety of Michigan brews, ranging from Jolly Pumpkin to Bells to Dark Horse. Other regional brewers, like Great Lakes Brewing, are also available.
Open for both lunch and dinner, Rub features a large list of appetizers to start either meal. The fried pickles feature Michigan grown pickle chips coated in a fluffy batter, served with a thin R.U.B. Dipping Sauce (though any of the six Rub BBQ Sauces paired well with the opener). The catfish nips feature enough catfish bites for an entire table, with the lightly breaded fish nuggets served with coleslaw and a slice of Texas toast. Another interesting choice includes the R.U.B. Poppers, fresh jalapenos stuffed with Texas beef brisket and cream cheese before being fried in beer batter.
The heart of good barbecue – the meat – is solid here. (Rub’s sauces were equally great.) The pulled pork was meaty and tender, offering a savory and moist shredded meat; it paired well with the Apple BBQ sauce. The smoked, pulled chicken was similarly tender, needing only the slightest prod of a fork to break apart. The chicken worked well with the mustard-based Carolina sauce and the peppery Memphis sauce. A stand out of all flavors was the Detroit sauce (other sauces include Kansas City and Texas).
The breakaway dish at Rub, though, rests near the heart of the pig: the ribs. The St. Louis Ribs, needing no sauce, were charred, moist and deliciously spiced. Each rib was meaty, with no lack of fat on the bones. Compared to a variety of other rib joints in the area, Rub definitely has the lead on the pork dish.
If the choices seem overwhelming, the Grand Slam offers a selection of four meats: Texas beef brisket, Tennessee pulled pork, smoked pulled chicken and the St. Louis Ribs. Baby back ribs are also available. If the large portions seem daunting, the meats are also served in a variety of Detroit-themed sandwiches, with festive names like “The Yzerman,” “The Kid Rock” and “The Belle Isle.”
Available sides include standard french fries and crisp, cool coleslaw that’s not too creamy. Standout accompaniments include the mac ‘n’ cheese and jalapeno cornbread: the former is a rich combination of cheeses with a crusty top, and the latter, a moist bread with a touch of heat infused through every bite (without being too hot). The cornbread muffins are served in individual cups.
A variety of salad options and small, specifically vegetarian selections are also available.
Rub BBQ Pub is located at 18 W. Adams Ave., Detroit. Rub is open 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Monday through Saturday and 12-11 p.m. on Sundays. Every Monday for happy hour everything is half-off. For more information, call 313-964-0782 or visit http://www.rubbbqpub.com.
By Shelby Clark Petkus