Like hordes of other locals, we got our first glimpse and taste of the new Rudy's Country Store and Bar-B-Q this week.
We're told that the chain, with nearly 30 locations, quickly becomes an institution wherever it lands. The early lines out the door at 315 S. 31st St. seem promising in confirming that assumption.
Rudy's is firstly spacious, with picnic bench tables inside and out, a huge, wrap-around parking lot featuring a line of gas pumps, and a large patio area. The location is pretty brilliant, considering the nearby RV parks and tourist traffic that busies the pass daily, not to mention high visibility for local eyes. We'll see how nearby barbecue outfits like Firehouse and Front Range are affected by the giant new competitor.
Greeters explain the whole ordering process upon entry, which basically entails patience through a long line that snakes past unsightly dry storage boxes and iced coolers of sodas and pre-packaged side items. At the counter, the register attendants offer samples of several products before you commit to a pound or half pound (or whatever quantity you desire), which is weighed in front of you. A team of cutters noisily works directly behind the registers disassembling large meat hunks. The whole business is fairly chaotic, but undoubtedly more engaging and exciting than most food experiences. Some folks will surely love the energy — others will hate the wait, bustling counter and process of trying to assemble the correct amount of food for a party based off poundage. (We're used to thinking in terms of more organized plates.)
Once at the table, the humble experience of eating with plastic wear off of the parchment sheets makes for a fun, fittingly messy treat. Families will surely love this dining style. The wet sides like creamed corn and cole slaw can get especially unruly.
We'll save the majority of our opinion on the food's taste and flavor for a later, formal review. It's not really fair to pick points on the first couple days of an operation's business. But I will say the meats are largely impressive and well handled.
The sauce though, left much to be desired in my opinion. With a second ingredient of high fructose corn syrup and a long list of common preservatives, it is overly commercial and complicated. If the flavor were totally kickin', I'd probably be more willing to overlook this fact. The thousands and thousands of fans who salivate at all the locations will of course say I'm crazy and wrong for this assertion, but in a nation of soda and fillers and white bread, this won't surprise me.
We invite anyone who hits up Rudy's soon to post a comment to this article or write their own review on our website. Barbecue of course is one of the most contentious foods — everyone thinks they cook or know where to find the best. So let the argument begin.