July 03, 2011

Big John's BBQ in Knoxville

We tried out a new BBQ place this weekend, and we're sure glad we did.

We've been having some home improvements done - repairs to our front porch, plus new front and back stairs - and we found out about Big John's BBQ from the fellow who was doing the work for us. 

Big John's opened around 3 months ago, but somehow we'd failed to notice it up until now.  It serves up New Orleans- and southern-style favorites such as ribs, pulled pork, crawdads, dirty rice and baked beans.  It is open only on the weekends - 11 am to 9 pm Friday and Saturday - but offers catering all through the week.

Big John's is pretty no-frills as restaurants go.  There's not much in the way of decor, and the tables are a bit crowded.  That said, it's clean, and the air conditioning worked well, which was a big plus on a very warm summer evening.

Big John's serves up a rotating selection of main dishes and sides, so the menu differs from night to night.  When we visited, you could choose from  pork spare ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and a crawdad boil as the main feature, and dirty rice, baked beans, fries and a tossed salad as the side choices.  The only dessert offering this time around was strawberry shortcake.

Juli got a half-order of pulled pork (one sandwich), while I got the ribs.   Several other customers ordered the crawdad boil.  In each case, the portions were more than generous.   The pulled pork was piled high on the sandwiches, my plate was stacked high with ribs, and the crawdad boil was served up as a big pile of large, bright red crawdads, plus two half-ears of corn and some boiled potatoes.  Even the sides were ample.  Juli got a tossed salad, and for the cost of a side, she got a plate of salad that most restaurants would price as a meal.  The prices are more than reasonable, and when one factors in the portions, Big John's prices are a bargain. 

Everything we had was excellent.  The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, and served up with really good BBQ sauce, not too sweet and with a bit of heat.   The pulled pork was also excellent, as were the baked beans.   People who ordered the crawdad boil seemed very pleased, but as far as we're concerned, the dirty rice stole the show.  Full of spicy ground sausage and bits of hot peppers, the dirty rice was as good as any I've ever had, and better than the vast majority.

The service was also excellent.  Our iced tea was refilled frequently, and the waitresses were attentive and friendly without being intrusive. 

We're sort of sorry we didn't hear about Big John's BBQ earlier.  If we had, we could have been eating here for awhile now.   Now that we do know about it, we will definitely be eating at Big John's again, and should you happen to be in Knoxville, we'd recommend you give it a try.

Big John's BBQ is located at 625 West Pleasant Street in Knoxville, Iowa.  The phone number is (641) 318-1202.

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