I was eager to go to the 2010 Nugget Best in the West Rib Cookoff and I wanted to avoid the traffic, so I parked at Legends and stood by the sign that indicated it was the pickup spot for the free shuttle service at about 3:20 p.m. About 3:35 p.m. I saw a Legends security guard and asked if the shuttle was running. He got on his radio and checked. It started at 5 p.m.
So I got back into my car and drove to Victorian Square and the Gods smiled on me. Someone was pulling out of a spot at the Silver Club just as I arrived, so I got a parking spot close by.
I walked to 10th and Victorian and decided this would be as good of place as any to spend my $24. I saw Aussom Aussie, Famous Dave's and a place that advertised it had the leanest pork in the United States. I'm not sure lean pork is a good thing, so I ruled them out. The line for Famous Dave's was about 12 people deep, so I decided to go with Aussom Aussie's which I had never tried before.
The meat at Aussom Aussie's was excellent. Tender and thick and flavored well enough you didn't need a sauce. I tried some of their hottest sauce. It was okay but not great. Lots of heat but not much else to balance it.
I decided to go to Famous Dave's next but the line had exploded to about 24 people. That was way too long. So instead I went to Memphis Championship Barbeque, a chain in Southern Illinois and Las Vegas. The meat on the three-rib sampler at Memphis Championship Barbeque was good but didn't have much flavor. It demanded sauce. They have a vinegar-tomato sauce there. It was thin, almost like tomato juice, and they used a lot of brown sugar or molasses to balance the vinegar. It wasn't bad. It's distinctive. But it was clearly No. 3 of the three I tried.
Finally the line to Famous Dave's had died down to about eight, so I got in line there. They basically have a St. Louis-style rib, although their sauces are of all types. It came with their sweet and sassy sauce. This is a much better attempt at balancing sweetness with tanginess. I also got some some of their Texas pit sauce that added a darker, peppery flavor. Famous Dave's and Aussom Aussie were close on the quality of rib meat but Famous Dave won going away on the quality of the sauces.
I had $3 left. It was enough to get me a small lemonade at the lemonade stand. Big are $5 now.
I'm not sure I'll have time to hit it again, but it was certainly worth it today.
From left to right are the rib samplers from Aussom Aussie, Memphis Championship Barbecue and Famous Dave's
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