Continuing the pink eye birthday tour today, my friend and I tried to go to Doris' to use another coupon, but alas, they were out of beef ribs, so there wasn't much point.
Decided to give Tropicana a try. The two older black ladies running the kitchen are a bit slow. But they're supremely nice. The place not only looks like a throwback to a soul food diner of 50 years ago, it feels like it.
For BBQ, they offer pork ribs, brisket, and hot links. They also offer a specials list that includes things like smothered steak, oxtails, and chitterlings. One more menu board offers diner basics like tuna melts, hamburgers, and pork chops.
We got the pork ribs and smothered steak. Plus, we got something not really on the menu. It was essentially the amount of meat of a hot link sandwich, but split between brisket and hot links.
The pork ribs were $8, I believe, and came with some bread and potato salad. The serving size is a bit small, probably, especially considering you don't get any significant sides with that. The potato salad (too mayonaissey for me), is just a dollop. But the flavor is nice. They're adequately smokey, have a nice crustiness to them, and are tender. They could be much more moist, and I suspect they would be much better if they were freshly out of the pit. I would say they're significantly better than Doris' pork ribs, though, and at least good enough. (Another problem is that the ones we got were small and not very meaty. They were almost out of them, though, so maybe we were getting the dregs.)
The smothered steak (about $10) was good pot-roast tender, easily fork tender, but not mush. The gravy was okay, but I'm so used to my own ultra-reduced, meaty gravies, that it certainly wasn't up to my standards. But, like the ribs, it was good enough. And the steak, while a bit small, was tasty. It was served over rice with two sides. We got the greens and black-eyed peas. I don't know that I'm a fan of black-eyed peas. But the greens were decent. The little cornbread muffins that came with it were good, especially since they came with real butter. They also gave a dessert with the steak. We chose the banana pudding, which was rather small, but quite tasty.
The hot links were very good. A bit spicy and adequately moist and flavorful. The brisket was a little dry, but had a nice smokiness and were tender, while not just falling to pieces.
A couple extra notes: they chill the glasses that they used for our water. Something I like. They also have an excellent BBQ sauce. I regularly prefer to go sans BBQ sauce, but this stuff was good. It had a little kick to it, a nice slight tang, and a good meaty-smoky flavor. This is the best BBQ sauce I've had in town so far -- easily.
A decent place overall, that would be raised in my estimation if the portions were a little better.