Jack's Bar-B-Q Rib Shack (CLOSED)

The Buffet Is Okay, Not Great

On a Wednesday while running errands, I noticed that Jack's Bar-B-Q Rib Shack was nearby. This is a place that I've known about for awhile, for it is near the Ajax Palace Cinema that I often visit. Even though I thought about dining there, I never got around to doing it. Then recently, I read a review on the blog Memphis Que that highly praised Jack's dry rub ribs. After reading the review, I put Jack's on my radar with the intent of stopping by whenever I was in that part of town.

I was lucky to visit Jack's on a Wednesday, because I was able to take advantage of the rib joint's weekly all-you-can-eat buffet. The buffet wasn't huge, but it offered the essentials such as dry rub ribs, beef brisket, chopped chicken, fried catfish and a few side items (but no "wet" ribs). I started off with ribs, brisket, potato salad, baked beans and a little bit of coleslaw:

Overall, everything on the first plate was good with one exception. The dry rub ribs were EXTREMELY DRY! Maybe the reason for that was the amount of time the ribs were on the buffet, although I find that hard to believe given that I started eating them at 11:20 AM. Even though the dry rub was good and the meat had a nice smoky flavor, the ribs were devoid of greasiness and not tender. As far as the tenderness was concerned, I wasn't looking for the ribs to fall off the bone but be easy enough to either pull apart or bite into. The meat was so dry that I had to get a cup of barbecue sauce just to make them palatable. I won't say that these were the worst ribs I've had, but they were memorable in a bad way.

Everything else on the plate was good. The brisket had a good smoky flavor and was very tender, with a little bit of fat to make it chewy. The potato salad was creamy with a hint of vinegar and the baked beans were average. What surprised me was the cole slaw, for it was the best that I've had in a long time. What impressed me about it was the vinegar flavor that I found to be a bit sweet, unlike most cole slaw that I've experienced. It was so good that I got a second helping. With having been impressed by everything but the ribs on my first plate, I was anxious for a second.

For my second plate, I chose the pulled pork, chopped chicken (mostly white meat), fried catfish and a bigger portion of coleslaw:

My initial reaction from the second plate was positive. Both the smoked pulled pork and chicken were tender and juicy, on par with places like Tops Bar-B-Q. The buttery batter of the fried catfish filets made them a delight to eat without having to dip them in tarter sauce. The coleslaw complemented everything which made the second plate a good one.

With the first two plates down, I mustered up the strength to get a third. I went with the best that I had from the first two plates, which were the brisket, catfish and coleslaw. With it, I got fried okra that was decent and went well with the other components of my plate. When I was done, I was stuffed and mostly satisfied with my meal with the notable exception of the ribs. Because the ribs were part of the buffet, I would assume that they weren't fresh so I wanted to give them a second try on a later visit.

The Dry Rub Is Great!

For my second visit, my focus was solely on the ribs, particularly the dry rub. I had hoped that the ribs would be fresh, juicy and tender so I could make a better assessment of them, and Jack's delivered. I decided to get a half slab, with half of it "wet" and the other half being dry rub. When I placed my order, my server told me that it would be ready in about twenty minutes because the ribs were still on the grill. Normally that would irk me because I hate long waits when I'm on a lunch break. However, because I had the day off, I was cool with it. When my order arrived, it looked great so I dug in.

When I bit into the dry rub ribs, I immediately noticed a difference. The ribs were tender and juicy, unlike what I had at Jack's buffet. In terms of perception, that made a big difference in how I evaluated the ribs. With me enjoying the freshness of the ribs, I was able to focus on the dry rub seasoning. The dry rub was the best I've ever had, although I haven't experienced a lot of it. When I finished it, I wanted more but I didn't have time for it. The dry rub was definitely worth the wait.

The "wet" ribs didn't impress me as much. The ribs' tomato based barbecue sauce is comparable to many BBQ joints that I've been to, so I would not go out of my way for it. However, they are a decent substitute for the paprika seasoned dry rub if isn't available. The steak fries and coleslaw go well with the "wet" ribs to make it an all around good meal.

After having the ribs for the second time, my opinion of Jack's Bar-B-Q Rib Shack is far more positive. As I said, the dry rub ribs really impressed me, almost to the point of making me a "dry rub" fan. However, I still prefer barbecue drenched in sauce that is messy yet delicious. Still, Jack's dry rub barbecue is great and I highly recommend it. I want to thank the blog Memphis Que for highlighting Jack's, for it deserves more recognition.


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  1. I'm glad you went back for a second try. Sounds like I may need to add a note to my Jack's review similar to the one I added to my review for Leonard's, where I've also heard complaints from people about the ribs on the buffet. If I want dry rub ribs I always order off the menu rather than get them from a serving tray on a buffet. They just don't seem to hold up well under a heat lamp. Thanks for the kind words about my blog.