I believe that I posted a review a year or so ago when Big John moved into the former auto parts store on Yale, right next to the mosque. (Before this, Big John was a fixture at the NM State Fair and selling street food out of his giant smoker.) The Yale restaurant had good food, but was an odd barbecue establishment, since the mosque would not allow the sale of pork products on the property it rented to Big John and crew.
Now that he's out of the mosque property and established in his new place at Iron and Broadway SE (in the old Maximito's building, 606 Broadway SE, 266-2799), I finally got to try Big John's pork ribs. They're pretty good, but not super-cheap: $7.80 for a 14.9 oz two-rib sandwich-without-the-bread (I'm a low-carber) order (weighed in the styrofoam container on a postal scale). Very heavy on the hickory smoke, nice sauce (more peppery than spicy, but very flavorful), extremely good amount of meat and not too fatty. The meat was wonderfully done - slid off the bone with no more than a touch and was meltingly tender. It was quite satisfying.
I won't compare Big John's ribs to other ribs that I like in town because, well, barbecue is individual enough that it doesn't directly compare. I either like it on some level (Robb's Ribbs, Quarters, Powdrell's, Rudy's, even Dickey's) or just don't care for it (Ribs, a couple of other places). I like most of it. I like Big John's.
Now, one thing has NOT changed since the Yale location: the place is run by the biggest (and nicest!) crew of goofballs. All were extremely nice folks, but man! My water tasted so strongly of bleach that I wouldn't drink it (in fact, this is when I decided to make my order "to go"). And, like my experince at the Yale location, they were out of everything (at 11:45 on a Friday afternoon)! They didn't have sausage. They didn't have tossed salad. They didn't have green beans. (All these things were on the menu.) This was identical to our experience when we went to their shop on Yale - they didn't have half the stuff on the menu, but what they had was pretty good. (I was bummed about the sausage - over and over again, I hear it's very good, but they're always out!)
Anyway, do drop by and give Big John's a try. I'll probably head back myself soon for some brisket ($4.50 sandwich, $7.50 dinner with BBQ beans, potato salad and texas toast) and chicken ($3.50 sandwich, $5.50 dinner), and maybe (if I get lucky) some of that reputedly delicious but unattainable sausage ($4.50 sandwich/$6.50 dinner). What you can get is pretty good, and worth a try. It is a small place, and it is run sort of goofily, but my experience has been that the food is consistently good and that the folks working are always extremely friendly.
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