I had today planned as a personal day off from work, but due to the severe weather on Wednesday, school was cancelled. Either way, I had planned to take the opportunity to choose another local restaurant off of my list of “to-reviews.” Philip and I consulted the (very long) list and nothing really jumped out at us at first. Because of continued power outages and other traffic obstacles, we decided to stay in the Hixson area, and as I named off all of our options, Philip jumped at the mention of Rib and Loin.
According to their website, Rib and Loin has existed in Chattanooga for more than 20 years, since 1989, in their Brainerd Road location. Honestly, because I grew up on the other side of town, I can’t remember if I ever ate there before they opened their Hixson location while I was in college. Philip and I don’t eat out a whole lot, but Rib and Loin is one of our favorites. It is (a) quick (unless you go after church on a Sunday-then you should be prepared to wait!); (b) relatively inexpensive; and (c) tasty.
Now, let me say this…..as in many places in the U.S., barbecue is a big deal around here. Now, let me tell you what barbecue is not. Often you will hear people from other areas of the country refer to “having a barbecue” at which they will serve hamburgers and hot dogs. That, my friends, is a cookout. Barbecue means low and slow….it may be sauced or rubbed but it’s not grilled. And now that I’ve made that point clear, I will also say that I do know people that don’t like Rib and Loin….but I don’t really think that’s because they think their food is bad. I know a lot of people who have pretty much devoted their lives to finding Chattanooga’s “best” barbecue. They tend to find one restaurant they consider the best and no other will do. I am not one of those people. I’ve had bad barbecue but I love barbecue and am not necessarily loyal to just one restaurant…but Rib and Loin is definitely the one I visit most often. I would also like to point out that a few years ago, a chain barbecue restaurant that shall remain unnamed moved in next to Rib and Loin in what I can only assume was an attempt to steal some of their business. I was worried at first but that worry was unnecessary. That particular location of the chain is now closed….but I digress.
So, onto today’s meal. Philip always orders the pork shoulder dinner-shredded pork shoulder and two sides (he always gets slaw and fried okra).
I have a few different things that I order, depending on my mood, but today I opted for the stuffed potato with beef topping.
Like the burger last week at Blue Ribbon Cafe, this potato was gigantic. I took about half of the meat off before saucing the potato. Underneath all of that meat were butter, sour cream, cheese, and chives, not too much, just enough to taste. I put just a little sauce on. I really like their sauce because it’s just simple-not too spicy, vinegary, or tomato-ey. I don’t really care for the bread on the side. Nothing against it, it’s just plain old bread, but it doesn’t add anything to the meal for me. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know what cut of meat Rib and Loin uses for their beef topping-but it’s good. A little smoky but not overly so; not fatty but not dry either; nicely shredded. I ate about half of the potato before I declared myself stuffed (I am sure that the gallon-sized cup of water had nothing to do with that). I was very happy with my lunch, but maybe not as happy as my husband was…
As I said last week, hamburgers are like a religion for me. If hamburgers come close to a religious experience for me, then I think it’s safe to say that pork shoulder does the same for Philip. That man LOOOOVVVVVES pork shoulder. And bacon and brisket and filet mignon….but anyway, pork shoulder (aka Boston Butt-that makes me laugh!) makes him very happy. So, needless to say, he was extremely thrilled with today’s lunch. Rib and Loin’s pork shoulder is very moist, and like the beef, smoky but not overly so. Their fried okra is different from what I grew up with. It has a little “jacket” of breading on it as opposed to the cornmeal dredging my mom does (for some reason I don’t make okra very often-maybe the slime, which is probably why Philip always orders it every time we go to R & L) but it’s really good and I always steal a few pieces off of his plate. Today he was threatening to stab me with his fork, but then I reminded him that I was making homemade brioche so he could have the French toast he requested for breakfast tomorrow, and he backed the fork off. Rib and Loin’s slaw, in my opinion, is really something to write home about. I am apparently not a good Southern girl and I have never cared much for plain old slaw (although I do like a good Asian slaw or just a vinegary slaw) but for some reason I really, really like Rib and Loin’s slaw. I think it’s because it’s not super-sweet (to me sweet cabbage is just weird) and because the cabbage and carrots is chopped up superfine. It’s great, great, great.
Rib and Loin has desserts, usually some cobblers and I am not sure what else (I’m thinking maybe sometimes banana pudding is on the menu). When someone says cobbler, Philip doesn’t generally let them get to the next option. The man loves cobbler. However, we did not have dessert today. The grand total was $16-something, which is interesting because that’s what the tab was at Blue Ribbon Cafe last week!
Now, don’t argue with me if you are a diehard fan of another barbecue restaurant. But if you are not loyal to anyone, definitely try Rib and Loin. It’s worth it!