My biggest complaint about the food here in Mid-Michigan is that there’s no good BBQ. After a rant one day, I was told by more than one person to eat at Slows Bar-B-Q the next time I was in Detroit. That was probably six months ago, but we’ve only been to Detroit once. J and I were in town for the North American International Auto Show and we wanted to do both lunch and dinner in the Detroit area. We were too early for lunch at Slows, so we settled on BBQ for dinner.
Slows Bar-B-Q is on Michigan Avenue in the shadow of what’s left of Tiger Stadium. There’s no parking lot that we could see, but we were able to find street parking around the corner. The area looks a little rundown and not some place I would really want to be at night, but Slows stood out as a diamond in that rough.
Our first challenge was getting in the place. We couldn’t find the door! There are two doors that actually look like doors, but both are looked and not an actual entrance. We stood looking at the store front trying to figure out how to get in! Fortunately, someone came out. The door is blended in to the facade. It’s has the same wooden slats the cover the building. No windows or even a handle. There’s a hole cut out of the wood to pull the door open. It’s actually a really cool look and once we figured out how to get in, we had a little chuckle and could appreciate the design.
We made it to Slows just after three o’clock. Not a prime dinner time. We thought we’d be ok, but when we got in, there’s was actually a wait. There were two large groups in front of us as well as a couple normal size parties. We gave our name to the host who told us it would be about twenty minutes. A twenty minute wait at three in the afternoon! Again, that’s usually a good sign, so we stuck it out. Turns out, the wait was about ten to fifteen.
There is basically two rooms at Slows. When you walk, you enter the bar area. The bar is a horseshoe bar which wraps around the center of the room. There are a few booths along the wall and a table or two tucked into the corner. The walls are a combination of exposed brick, wood slats and copper sheets. The other room is the main dining room and the tables are packed into the space. The tables are set up three across with a narrow aisle on either side of the middle row of tables. We were shown to a table for two in the center of the room. The waitress brought our Coke’s while we looked over the menu.
Everything on the menu looked good. A guy waiting behind us recommended a chicken sandwich to another first timer who came in after we did. He claimed it was the best thing on the menu. It looked really good and J said she considered ordering it, but ultimately, we decided on the same thing. Both of us ordered the Carolina Pulled Pork. When you order and entree, you get your choice of two sides. We both chose Mac ‘n Cheese. I ordered fries for my second side and J got the baked beans.
Like most BBQ places, it didn’t take long to get our food. Five minutes after the waitress left us, she was coming back with plates of food. It didn’t take long before our table was filled plates and bottles of sauce. The pulled pork is prepared Carolina style with their NC Sauce. That sauce is a true Carolina style vinegar sauce. It was really tangy and had a real sharp bite to it. If you take a bite not knowing what a vinegar BBQ sauce is, you in for a big shock. The sauce was good, but really not my thing. I do like thin vinegar sauces, but this one was really vinegary. They leave bottles of their six sauces on the table and we both went through and tried all of them. The problem was, the NC sauce was already on the pork, so it was always competing with the other sauce. The sweet sauce was good, but again, sort of tart. The spicy sauce was probably the consensus favorite. It’s more like what I make at home. It’s a little thicker, but still had a good smokey flavor. They don’t go light on the pork either. We both had a huge mound on our plates. I ate most of mine and J ate about half. When we started getting full, we dove into the sides since the pork will still be good tomorrow. The pork itself was delicious. The burnt ends had an incredible flavor. They did this pork right!
The mac ‘n cheese was delicious! It wasn’t actually mac ‘n cheese. It was shells ‘n cheese, but it didn’t matter what kind of pasta they used. You could tell the plates just came out from under the broiler. The cheese was a nice golden brown color and it was hot. J suggested I poke mine to vent the steam after she almost burnt her tongue. For a side dish, the serving was pretty large. I’ve eaten at BBQ places that give you a little plastic cup. Not Slows. You got a really large serving.
The fries were waffle fries. Nothing special, but like the mac ‘n cheese, a really good portion size. The waitress gave me the option for cheese fries, but sine I was getting cheese in my other side, I passed.
J said her beans were great. There was a hint of cinnamon which gave them a unique flavor. She didn’t eat them all and is now wishing she had brought them home.
Our bill for the two platters was about $27. Not bad when comparing to other places I’ve eaten price wise. We got a ton of food. It really felt more like a family style dinner. There were plates everywhere and J and I were reaching all over the table to get more food. Slows Bar-B-Q was great. I’m so glad to have found real BBQ somewhere in Michigan. I wasn’t a huge fan of any of the sauces, but they were all good.
I can imagine Slows would have been a great pre-game meal or post game drink had they co-existed with Tiger Stadium. We never would have found Slows on our own. As far as I could tell from the surroundings, it’s kind of an out-of-the way, neighborhood joint…that’s a lucky neighborhood.