Welcome to my pig-out rib eating adventure, as I attended the 2016 Best In The West Nugget Rib Cookoff, held in Sparks, Nevada. On Thursday, September 01, 2016, and on the next day, Friday, September 02, I had the opportunity to enjoy ribs, with all the fixin's, deep fried veggies, and lots of ice-cold beer. Such a great time!
As with all the reviews I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: I had never had the chance to visit Johnson's Hickory Smoked Bar-B Que, so today, Thursday, September 01, 2016, I decided to pay them a visit. Like all the other cookers, they have their trophies, banners, and "bragging rights" posted all over their barbecue stand.
Photo: After placing my order, my counter gal began dishing up my plate. She was very camera shy, and wouldn't give me her name. No worries, as everybody is different.
Photo: I hadn't planned to order chicken, as I was at a rib cookoff - for cryin' out loud - but when I saw this guy cooking chicken, and saw the sign, "Voted Best Chicken 2012 Alabama," I decided to make chicken a part of tonight's meal.
Photo: My shy counter gal rushes to fill my order. More on what I ended up in a couple of photos. As an aside, during the couple of days I was at the Nugget Rib Cookoff, the weather was very pleasant, and the maximum temperature was only in the upper 80's.
Photo: I pose with tonight's dinner.
Photo: After watching the guy cook chicken, I decided to add chicken to my dinner, so I ordered a "#10 Chicken and Rib Combo," which seemed to be the best of both worlds. The meal includes your choice of potato salad or cole slaw and baked beans, and the price is $18.00, which seems high, but it's actually very reasonable for the Nugget Rib Cookoff. As the voracious eater that I am, I chose potato salad, as I love it, but the choice was difficult, as I also crave cole slaw. However, potato salad won the battle tonight. I hiked the short mile back to my motel room, carrying my delicious meal, so I could eat it at my leisure.
This barbecue was outstanding! Like all the barbecue I've enjoyed at the many times I've visited the rib cookoff, this food was delicious. Everything was perfectly cooked, and the sauce was sweet and tangy. Johnson's Hickory Smoked Bar-B Que really knows how to make delicious barbecue! By the way, these guys hail from Chesapeake, VA, and you can find their location on the web.
Photo: Man can't live on ribs alone, so during the couple of days I attended the cookoff, I also enjoy deep fried veggies at Jumbo Onion Rings. These guys cook great deep fried veggies, but information about the does not exist on the web, and I believe the staff must be sworn to secrecy, as none of seem to know much when asked a question, such as "What is the name of your company? Do you have a business card?"
Photo: I get a peek at the staff deep frying onion rings, zuchini, mushrooms and "Texas Tators." On this trip, I didn't opt for zuchini, but I tried "Texas Tators" for the first time.
Photo: My counter gal grins, as she delivers my $8.00 stack on onion rings. The last time I attended the rib cookoff, back in 2014, the price of the onion rings was $6.00; by my calculations, that's a 25% increase in price in two years! The price is high, but so is the stack of onion rings, and they are the best onion rings that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy, so I bow to extravagance, suck it up, and enjoy delicious onion rings.
Photo: The best onion rings I've ever eaten! Like the kid I am, I like to dip them in ketchup, and get my fingers all messy with sticky ketchup. That's part of the fun of it. As the "health nut" I am, the onion rings were today's breakfast.
Photo: Later in the day, I decided to order deep fried mushrooms, which I'd never had the pleasure to enjoy at Jumbo Onion Rings. My friendly counter gal, Mimi, laughs as I take her photo, as she delivers my order of deep fried mushrooms.
Photo: I pose with my $8.00 order of deep fried mushrooms. Note the small size of the order.
Photo: As shown in the previous photo, the size of the order was small, perhaps tiny, but... for a scant five minutes, I was in absolute deep fried heaven! These mushrooms are so good, I almost cried as I ate them. I'm going to reserve this for a once-a-year splurge, and I'll do it again.
Photo: Jumbo Onion Rings specializes in "Texas Tators," and this gal was keeping very busy making them. I've been seeing them at the Nugget Rib Cookoff, and county fairs for years, and I'd never enjoyed one, so.......
Photo: Today, Friday, September 02, 2016, I took THE PLUNGE and ordered a mound of "Texas Tators," for the first time in my life. Madeline grins after I told her I'd never enjoyed this delicacy, and after I snapped her photo.
Photo: The mound of "Texas Tators" is enormous, and I think it's nearly as big as the great State of Texas. As per my custom, I added ketchup, picked a shady spot, and went to work on this $9.00 monster.
Fork or fingers? I opted for fingers. What technique? I picked a little bit off at a time - sort of like peeling an onion - dipped it in ketchup, put it in my mouth, and enjoyed... well, sort of.
Actually, I only ate half of this, as I gave up on it. I could best describe this eating a Texas-size mound of soggy, oversized potato chips. The taste was there, but the texture was rubbery, and everything was soggy. To be honest, if I was at home, I would have put the rest in a container, and would have made something out of it. But today, that just wouldn't have worked, so I deposited what I didn't eat in a nearby trash can. Now I know...
Photo: Meet Amanda, today's friendly bartendress at the Victorian Saloon, near the east end of the event. At the cookoff, beer is sold in "official" beer trailers at the price of $7.00 for a 16-oz Budweiser. Amanda was pouring 24-oz Pabst beers for the price of $5.00, so I did most of my beer drinking in or near the Victorian Saloon.
Photo: As I was wandering around Friday afternoon, I came upon a group of three guys along with three gals, and one of the guys was taking photos of the group with his cell phone camera. I offered to take a photo of all six of them together, which really made them happy. One of the guys offered to take my photo, with my camera, with the three girls and I together. I readily agreed, as I love to be photographed with beautiful women. This photo is the end result, and it brought me about 15 seconds of sheer bliss as I wrapped my arms around these beautiful girls.
Photo: Friday evening, September 02, 2016, I decided to enjoy tonight's dinner at Austin's Texas Lightning BBQ, as I hadn't ever had the chance to sample their fine cuisine. Like all the other rib cookers, they have "bragging signs" posted all over the facade of their establishment. Whenever I see a barbecue restaurant but the word "Texas" in their name, it always intrigues me, as I love Texas-style barbeque. Their name is a bit misleading, as they're based out of Burr Ridge, Il, which is a suburb of Chicago. However, they cook true Texas-style barbecue - I know all about Texas-style barbecue, as I've been to Texas many times - and they are unique at the Nugget Rib Cookoff, as they lightly coat their ribs with barbecue sauce, and they serve the majority of their tangy sauce on the side, in the true style of Texas. So, I can look the other way that they're based out of Illinois.
Photo: Meet Nikki, the pitmaster at Austin's Texas Lightning BBQ, who really gives me a great pose after I asked to take her photo, as she was cooking a rack of ribs. To my knowledge, Nikki was the only female pitmaster at this year's rib cookoff.
Photo: Nikki dishes up my to-go box, as Jenny, the friendly counter gal, holds it. The gentleman in the photo assisted Nikki with the ribs, and he seemed to perform most of the cutting duties.
Photo: Jenny holds my dinner, as I snap her photo. Such a friendly and charming young lady!
Photo: I grin, as I hold my "Big Tex" dinner, as I know that I'm in for a treat tonight. I was staying in a motel only a mile from the west end of the cookoff, so I elected to carry my dinner home, and enjoy it in the comfort of my motel room.
Photo: My "Big Tex" dinner. At $25.00 for the basic dinner, I decided to splurge, as this was my last night at this year's rib cookoff. So, what do you get for $25.00? A lot of food, including three ribs, beef brisket, pulled pork, chicken breast, beans, cole slaw, and a slab of Texas toast. I ponied up an additional $3.00 for cornbread, and a good-sized helping of mac 'n cheese, for a total of a $28.00 dinner. It was expensive, but worth every penny!
There was just a light coating of barbecue sauce on the ribs, the brisket and pulled pork were mixed with a moderate amount of sauce, and the chicken didn't have any sauce. Delicious! Despite the fact the chicken was "naked," it was juicy, moist and flavorful. The beans, cole slaw and cornbread were great, but the mac 'n cheese really stood out, as it was fantastic! I should have ordered a quart of it to take home with me. As I mentioned before, this meal was expensive, but since it was so delicious, it was worth every penny.
As in previous years, I enjoyed the two full days I spent at the Nugget Rib Cookoff. Food, fun, and lots of great beer to drink! If you love all of the above,and you want to attend the largest rib fest on the West Coast, then head to Sparks, Nevada to attend the Nugget Rib Cookoff, held annually, each Labor Day weekend. 2017, here I come!
Nugget Rib Cookoff
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