Eat EVERYTHING at Bear’s Smokehouse [BD in CT]
The Burger Days Crew doesn’t discriminate when it comes to goodness. We’ve already burgered our way through Connecticut so on our latest trip to the Nutmeg State, we ditched the beef-and-bun and instead deposited a whole helluva lot of other tastiness inside us. In Part 1, we tackle Bear’s Smokehouse.
The first place we visited had been on our radar ever since it opened in the middle of last year. We first learned of the spot not long after we saw competitive-eater extraordinaire Jamie “The Bear” McDonald eat his way to second place at Z-Burger’s 2013 Burger Eating Championship. See, not only is McDonald capable of downing 25 burgers in 10 minutes, but the guy is also the owner and pit master of Bear’s Smokehouse, a small Kansas City-style BBQ joint nestled inside a diner in Windsor, Connecticut.
When we stopped by Bear’s last Saturday night we found it packed to the gills, with a line 25 people deep snaked through the place. It was damn-near torturous waiting the 30 minutes to order with the heavenly scent of smoked meat overrunning our noses like Black Friday shoppers at Wal-Mart. The unstoppable aroma looted and ransacked our woefully-unprepared nostrils, leaving nothing but a trail of hunger pangs in its wake. It was agonizing.
However, slowly but surely, we made it to the
moutaintop cash register and we’ll be damned if we didn’t hear angels sing when they handed us our trays full of food. We maneuvered our way back through the crowd, shielding our precious cargo from the ravenous hordes still waiting in line, and made our way to our table. We briefly paused to survey the teeming piles of meat sitting on our paper-lined trays but before we could strategize a plan of attack, a hand darted in, grabbed a rib, and it was on. Any hope for a civilized meal was lost as meat and sauce were soon being flung across the table with gusto.
But, hey– who can eat civil with food this good?
Burnt ends, the holy grail of KC barbecue, were out-of-this-world phenomenal. A crispy, charred crust surrounded unbelievably moist and tender, falling-apart-when-we-picked-it-up hunks of fatty, juicy goodness. They didn’t need any sauce. It was a mouthful unlike any other and the clear-cut favorite of our meat potpourri. But you know what else was excellent? The baby back ribs. And the brisket. And the bacon-wrapped meatballs AKA Moinkballs. And the…fuck it…just order EVERYTHING. Same goes for the sides. We dipped our faces into the mac and cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, cornbread and smoked BBQ beans and were left licking the styrofoam cups clean.
For sauce, there’s a foursome ranging from traditional sweet Kansas City-style to the ghost pepper-and-habanero-fueled Grizzly sauce. We dug the Texas Pepper –a peppery-version of the sweet sauce– the most, but a hot-sriracha-infused variety was a close second.
We wish the commute was a bit shorter, but if we find ourselves even remotely close to Bear’s, we’ll be right back in that line again. Waiting, be damned.
Bear’s Smokehouse | 55 Palisado Avenue | Windsor, Connecticut | bearsbbq.com