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Get a little taste of southern barbecue at Famous Dave's

I’ve had a hard time finding good barbecue north of the Mason Dixon Line.

Granted, there are a few of the chains and local places that come close. But outside of the places I’ve visited in South Carolina, Alabama and Texas, Famous Dave’s comes the closest — and it isn’t even based in the South, as its first restaurant opened up in Wisconsin.

I’ve been eating at the Famous Dave’s since I first moved out to this area back in 2003. Back then, I was single and was told that a remedy to fix that would be to join a gym. Pinnacle out there in Mishawaka was the closest place I could find at the time.

So, I stopped by and some lady talked me into joining. Even though it was a 25 minute drive, I spend four months going to that gym without  saying two words to any members of the opposite sex while there.

I spent a lot of weekends driving out to Mishawaka, “working out” at Pinnacle for about an hour, heading to Famous Dave’s or Wings Etc. for lunch, stopping by the Best Buy to get a CD or DVD, and if anything good was playing I would take in a movie at the dollar theater.

I did really enjoy hanging out at Famous Dave’s back then. I would order the pulled chicken, dip my fries in the sweet and zesty sauce, drink some Blue Moon on tap, and polish off that cornbread at the end.

That cornbread is the best — it’s more of a cupcake than a muffin.

Since we had a little break from this arctic plunge on Saturday, I took my family out for a dinner at Famous Dave’s to review some wings.

I usually don’t order the wings here, as they have some pretty good barbecue, but the one time I did, I chose a combo platter that came with six wings.

Unfortunately, I asked for the Wilber’s Revenge sauce and the wings were so hot that I started hiccupping after eating them. I couldn’t even finish the plate.

So this time I stuck to the Pineapple Rage, which is made with habanero peppers.

The wings came out nicely sauced, but a bit on the small side. Good thing I had a couple of sides, or else I might have gone home hungry.

I believe the wings are supposed to be smoked, but they tasted more like they were baked on my visit. The skin wasn’t very crispy and the chicken was a little dried out.

The sauce was good, though. It wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be, and I managed to refrain from hiccuping. I’d give it a 2 out of 4 on the heat scale. I didn’t taste much pineapple or habanero, but it was a good mix of sweet and hot.

It’s hard for me to decipher a price, because I ordered the wings as part of a combo with a few sides, but it is safe to say the CPW would be over the 100 cent mark. The wings were quite small, too, so I can conclude you would get a better deal elsewhere.

I’ve had some good smoked barbecue wings before, and if I can get out to northern Alabama again, I’ll do a review of a place that serves the pinnacle of smoked barbecue wings.

At Famous Dave’s, though, I would stick to the other barbecue food. It may not be the same as getting brisket in a gas station on the side of the road in Texas, but it can give you a small taste of what barbecue should be.

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