Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue

2012/10/16 19:10:02
Fette Sau, which has been picked as the best barbecue place in NYC by at least one major media outlet there that I'm aware of, is opening a second location here in Philly. And within a couple blocks of it, another Texas-style barbecue place called Bubba's is opening. He's got a huge smoker and claims on the menu that he smokes his brisket for 20 hours.
Of course, other places have opened here and said they'd be authentic, only to be not very good. But I'm hoping for the best this time. I don't get to the south very often.
Here is a little more information:
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/09 19:45:33
I finally made it to these two places today. They are certainly a step up from what usually passes for Southern style barbecue in Philadelphia; especially Fette Sau.
We hit Bubba's first:

My wife, another couple and I ordered the platter that is supposed to be for two people, but which came with plenty for the four of us, without taking into account that we were going to another barbecue place right after we finished there. We went with pulled pork, brisket, chicken, beans, green beans and greens. It also came with outstanding corn bread and half-sour pickles, which I love. We ordered the bacon mac-and-cheese as well:



From Bubba's we walked the two blocks to Fette Sau, which also has a location in Brooklyn. While I enjoyed Bubba's and would call it at least as good as the other places I've tried in this region, I would say Fette Sau has by far the best Southern-style barbecue I've eaten in the Philly area.
Meat is ordered by the pound at the butcher counter-window:



We went with brisket, pulled pork, a beef short rib and pork belly, as well as burnt-end baked beans and mushrooms:




Having praised it to the sky, next time I would ask them to cut the brisket from a slightly less fatty end. Three types of sauces - hot, sweet and vinegar - are offered on the table. I used a little bit of sweet sauce, but the meat didn't need much help. That brisket was so tender and moist that I think it may have broken apart if I had breathed on it a little too hard.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2012/12/10 10:39:22
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/09 22:33:02
Yeah.a little less fat might be better.......but that pork belly sure looked tasty
Filet Mignon
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/09 22:41:06
Yer killin' me phlmaestro.  My last meal, two Chicago Style Hot Dogs, was seven hours ago.  And there's darn little chance of top notch BBQ here in Chicago on a Sunday night.
I'm glad you've got two worthy Greasehouses in your area.  I'm going home to a chicken sandwich and a pickle.
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/09 22:41:08
Both places in the same day?  Nicely done!  How was the bacon mac & cheese from Bubba's?  Thanks for the photos and report.
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/09 22:57:01
The sides at Bubba's look better than the Q!
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/09 23:05:49
The Brooklyn location serves a variety of Manhattan Special sodas.

You hit a soda jackpot at the Philadelphia location...

Blenheim Ginger Ale...Cheerwine...Mexican Coca Cola...Nesbitt Orange...NuGrape.

No mushrooms in Brooklyn. They look like heaven.
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/10 07:58:10
CC ... I had a bottle of Dad's root beer. I love those rare bottled sodas too. The Franklin Fountain ice cream shop in the Olde City section of Philly also has a fantastic selection; not to mention great ice cream.
Buffetbuster ... The mac and cheese was outstanding. Although I resisted eating a large gob of melted cheese that stuck to my fork because I knew we had a lot of food left to eat! I wanted to go to both places because they are so close to each other and I moved to the suburbs a few months back. It's not quite as convenient for me to get to these places as it would have been during the many years I lived in Center City. So I figured I'd knock them both off.
I should add that Fette Sau also has a trendy looking bar. I think they specialize in a large selection of whiskeys. Because of that and the fact that it's a Stephen Starr venture, I would guess the place gets crowded with nightclub types at night, especially on the weekend. But at around 3-4 p.m. on a Sunday, it was very quiet.
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/10 09:24:57
The Fette Sau brisket looks mighty good to me!  There's nothing wrong with a couple of lean slices but a little fat helps balance things out.
Just out of curiosity, how come you didn't try the pork ribs at either restaurant?  Will you be going back for them at a later date?
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/10 09:49:07
It was just a case of not having the appetite for everything. I'd have probably gotten them as a third meat in our platter at the first place, but my wife prefers chicken, so we went with that.
The St. Louis style ribs at Fette Sau did look fantastic, but I wanted to try one of those beef ribs, and again, I just ran out of appetite. I also wanted to get pulled pork to compare it to the pulled pork at Bubba's. But I do intend to get the pork ribs at Fette Sau the next time I'm there. I will probably skip Bubba's next time. Again, it's certainly not bad, but with Fette Sau being right around the corner, it's a pretty easy choice for me now that I've tried them both.
I also prefer the system of ordering meat by the pound at Fette Sau. At Bubba's, the only way to try their smoked meats is to order a platter with sides. The Fette Sau system gives the opportunity to try smaller amounts of more meats.
post edited by phlmaestro - 2012/12/10 09:51:40
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2012/12/10 11:00:16
If I'm seeing it right Bubba's Ribs, 1/4 of a rack for $16.95? If he is getting that much $ for a 1/4 rack, I need to go back to the drawing board. I charge $23.99 for a full rack of 2.5 and up Baby Backs.
Why you would smoke Ribs for 8 hours and Brisket for 20 hours, beats me.
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/26 10:08:34
It's hard to know for sure from a picture as sometimes the lighting and camera settings combine to give a less than accurate take on reality. I thought the sides looked better than the meat at both places. At Fette Sau the ribs appeared overdone & the pulled pork looked in being held too long. At Bubba's, did the meat come with all that sauce on it or did you add that?
I'd probably try either one...or maybe both:-) I am bad that way. But honestly, if I were back in Philly I'd probably be eating Italian or chowing down on a cheesesteak somewhere.
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/26 13:40:10
The meat came pre-sauced at Bubba's. I don't think we added any more sauce.
Since this thread came back to the top, I may as well post these photos from my first experience at smoking a brisket, which happened this past weekend. I smoked it on a large (26.75 inch) Weber kettle charcoal grill, which is pretty good for smoking. I got the idea from Youtube videos:

mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/26 14:53:16
Good report on the Philly BBQ locations. AND  I like the step by step of your home-done Brisket.
I will do a whole Brisket next week for our 'pot-luck Derby Dinner ' here. I use an electric smoker but the results are usually quite good.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/26 18:01:08
Thanks, Mayor Al. I'm trying another one tomorrow. This one will be a tad smaller; just a 4-5 pound flat with a thin layer of fat all across the top. I'd like to sleep a little later. Eventually I'll have to cook a full 10-pound brisket or pork butt for my wife's family. That will probably require me to stay up all night. It had better come out good for all of that work!
Seriously, I'm enjoying this as a new hobby after living for many years in the city in buildings where the lease or condo rules forbid the people living there from having grills.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/26 21:06:03
I'll be over Phl!  I remember in FL they did not allow Grills above ground level.........since I lived on the 6th floor we had to make do with take-out/ eat-in mostly. got both a Weber and a new electric smoker now....waiting to try out the latter.  Those photos give me inspiration!
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/28 17:06:13
phlmaestro, your brisket looks better than either restaurant, congrats!
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/28 18:26:56
That brisket does look wonderful!
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/28 18:49:06
Great job on that brisket!  And, yes, yours does look MUCH better than those restaurants'!!!
Re:Big Week for Philadelphia Barbecue 2013/04/28 20:42:50
Thanks for all the nice comments!
I smoked that second brisket yesterday to take to a party. I was very happy with the flavor, including the level of smokiness from the hickory chunks I used, and also the tenderness. But it was a little on the dry side. I decided to try foiling it with a little of my injection/spray liquid for a little while a few hours into the cook, then putting it back on the grill without the foil to hit it with a last jolt of smoke at the finish. But when I took it out of the foil, the temperature of the meat went down 15-20 degrees and it wouldn't go back up. So I re-foiled it to finish. I think next time I'll just make sure I get all of the smoke I need in before foiling it for the last 20-30 degrees of the cook.