Ah..... barbecue.... it's almost memorial day, so even though the grill never really gets shut down at the Indy Grub Review's abode, this weekend marks the unofficial start of summer grilling.... With the Better Half's sister and family in town for the long Victoria Day weekend (the Better Half is Canadian), and with the bro-in-law a big fan of slow cooked meat, we picked up some King's Ribs one evening.
King's Ribs only shows it west side location on their web site, but we are closest to the one at 41st and Keystone. And, I also know of at least one other location at Pendleton Pike and 465 on the East side. I can't speak to variation in quality between locations, but based on our most recent visits, I do think there is a little variation within a location.
When it comes to bar-b-q, I mostly think of pulled pork and rib tips. I like ribs, too, but somehow the other items are my favorite. I am slowly coming around on brisket though, despite personal failures in cooking a brisket slow enough at home (yes, I need to break down and get a good smoker). The Indy Grub Review's roommate (The Chemist) for the first two years at Purdue went on to Northwestern to do his grad work. This move was fortuitous in many ways. It helped open a whole new world of food to me based on numerous visits to Chicago/Evanston. And, since The Chemist went for his PhD, it spanned over 4 years. Cubs games, Wildcat football (GO U, N-U) under Gary Barnett, and the food.... so, the bar was set early with bbq from many visits to the fantastic take out stand at Hecky's (its the sauce!). Other local favorites included Buffalo Joe's, Mustard's Last Stand, and Herm's Palace.
That brings us years later back to Indianapolis and King's Ribs. A takeout-only location in what looks like it used to be a car wash? Man, that's 2 belly rubs already! I love the smokey flavor that comes through in the rib tips at King's Ribs. I really like the sauce, and find it really flavorful and not too sweet, not too overpowering. It's great for dipping, and that is precisely why you get that wonderful plain white bread - sop up all the sauce.... I highly recommend that mac-n-cheese, though the cole slaw is pretty pedestrian. I also really tend to rate a barbecue place on its beans - in this case, I'd not say the beans are really all that great at King's Ribs. They seem to mostly be from can, it seems, and they add some sauce and what I believe is, maybe, some salsa. I think the pulled pork at King's is good... not great. It seemed on our last visit to be a bit too wet, but maybe that was from the travel time in the styrofoam and condensation picked up? Still, the pork is good, but nothing exceptional really.
When you look at other reviews for King's Ribs, they mostly seem pretty favorable, but some complaints about quality. I have noticed that in the rib tips, but I tend to think that is a product of the cut of meat more than the restaurant...
Overall - I highly recommend the rib tips and the mac-n-cheese, they're things that you'll crave and want to have at least a handful of times a year.
The verdict: 4 belly rubs (out of 5). Small penalty for lack of quality across the full menu.