Having gone to school in North Carolina, I spent a good four years getting educated on what constitutes “real barbecue.” Of course, in eastern Carolina, the argument was always the same: “if it ain’t vinegar, it ain’t barbecue.” While I respect the regional culinary pride — I grew up in New York, so don’t even get me started on pizza — I’ve got to say, if it ain’t vinegar, it can still be darn good.
Case in point: Rick’s Roadhouse in Providence. Rick’s is open daily for lunch and dinner, and has on several occasions won “Best Barbecue in Rhode Island” — with good reason. The menu features not only traditional barbecue, like ribs, pulled pork, and brisket, but also fried chicken, quesadillas, and an extensive menu of sandwiches and burgers, as well as classic barbecue sides like beans, cole slaw, and potato salad.
On my latest trip to Rick’s, I deconstructed a beef brisket sandwich: I chose to remove the bacon and cheese because it just seemed a bit much, but the tender and juicy brisket was amazing. I got cornbread in place of fries as a side: while some restaurants prefer a mealier, more savory cornbread, Rick’s is sweet, moist, and nicely glazed, a perfect compliment to a salty and spicy meat sandwich.
My two dining guests opted a huge half rack of ribs, coleslaw and baked beans as sides. They both agreed that the ribs were more than enough for lunch and leftovers, and that the coleslaw (vinegar-style) and baked beans (brown sugar-style) were classic, well-seasoned, and wholly satisfying.
We finished off our meal with beers from the bar, which is well-stocked and full of TVs and arcade-style games (great for football Sunday!), and toasted to a successful Southern lunch without having to leave New England.
Satisfy your BBQ craving at Rick’s Roadhouse in Providence … except if you’re from eastern Carolina, and then maybe just stick to the drinks 😉