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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

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COLUMN: Looking for BBQ in Bloomington at Smokin' Jack's Rib Shack


As someone who was grew up in Georgia and was a raised by a dad from eastern North Carolina, I am basically a barbecue expert. OK, maybe not an expert, but I have acquired a love for barbecue.  

But since moving to Bloomington, I haven’t been able to satisfy my southern craving for a good beef brisket sandwich.  

That was until I drove by Smokin' Jack's Rib Shack on West 17th Street and stopped by.  

The “shack” is a hot pink restaurant that resembles a ranch and is surrounded by a few large pig statues. As I entered the parking lot, I felt transported. This unusual place did not feel like a Bloomington restaurant, and it felt like I was in a state that loved barbecue.  

As I walked into the restaurant for the first time, I admired the country décor placed around the restaurant. There were pig decorations scattered around the room, a mounted longhorn and a juke box. As I scanned the chalkboard menu, a waiter said that all their meat was smoked daily in their smoker in the parking lot.  

As I read the menu, I knew I wanted to order smoked brisket. I enjoy pulled pork, but since the meat is “pulled," it makes it lean and I prefer a thicker cut of meat. This is why for my main meal, I ordered a smoked brisket sandwich.  

The meat was chopped into one-inch pieces and was quite tasty. The meat was juicy and the flavor was amplified by the restaurant’s homemade barbecue sauce. The sauce was extremely thin and had a sweet aftertaste. I think the meat had enough flavor by itself, but it tasted like a complete barbecue sandwich with the addition of the sauce.  

On the side, I got french fries and mac and cheese. The french fries were clearly home cut as each fry had an imperfect shape. The potatoes were crunchy and complimented further when dipped in the barbecue sauce. The macaroni and cheese wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy, but I enjoyed eating it with my pork sandwich. My two sides completed the trifecta of a southern barbecue dinner.  

Finally, before leaving, I wanted to try something new. I was familiar with pulled pork but was curious to try their homemade cornbread. On the menu, they even referred to their cornbread as corn-cake, so it was basically dessert.  

Considering the cornbread as dessert was accurate as it tasted like a buttery pound cake and crumbled in my hands. I enjoyed a few bites of the bread and saved the rest for later.  

Despite Bloomington’s limited barbecue restaurants, I did feel right at home while eating my dinner from Smokin’ Jack’s Rib Shack. If you are looking for a night of southern flare, I encourage you to stop by! 

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