Grandpa John’s Rib Shack in Peoria Carries on Family Tradition

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’d rather eat the regular fries at Grandpa John’s Rib Shack than their famous sweet potato fries. I know, I know. It’s almost sacrilege to say that. And it’s not that the sweet potato fries aren’t great – they are – but the regular fries are so fantastic that I have a hard time believing it.

The good news is that I don’t have to get in my car and schlep all the way up to Willow Knolls Court to get a fix. The Robinson Family was kind enough to take pity on us poor central Peoria residents to open second restaurant at 200 W. McClure Avenue, the site of the former Hardee’s fast food restaurant joint.

Now, there are other barbecue joints that are operating not far from this location. But none of them have food that is anywhere as consistently good as what we get from Grandpa John’s.

I’ve eaten there several times since it opened about a month ago. We thought it about time to offer up an official review of Peoria’s newest – yet oldest – rib joint.

Since I was eating of the River City Times dime, I ordered a regular combination dinner ($14.95) which gave me choices of two kinds of meat and two sides. I ordered rib tips and pulled beef. For the sides, I ordered cole slaw and sweet potato fries.
You see, while I loooooove their regular fries, I owed it to our loyal readers to give the sweet potato fries another try.

My opinion hasn’t changed: I still find the regular potato fries to be superior. The sweet potato version are still tasty and crisp and I have no argument with anyone who prefers them to the regular version. But I’ll stick to the regular fries next time I dine there.

I’m not alone. The guy ahead of me in line at the counter ordered nothing but an order of regular fries ($1.69). The sweet potato fries are $1.79.

The rib tips were great, as usual. Take my advice, don’t even try to eat them with a fork. Pick ’em up, and dip ’em by hand. Keep a fresh napkin – in this case, a paper towel – in your non-dipping hand and prepare to spit out the bony parts. Only a fool tries worries about high-manners and etiquette when eating at a rib joint.

The pulled beef was delicious and spicy-good as well, even without added sauce. The meal was served with two pieces of white bread, and I tried to make a sandwich out of the beef, but the entree worked better just eating it with a fork.

Of course, the slaw was sweet and crispy, and not excessively creamy, which I find annoying. Don’t let the price of the combination dinner scare away folks who like a bargain. They offer a daily lunch specials for $6.48 that will stick to your ribs.
Owned by the family of the late John Robinson – founder of the late and lamented Big John’s BBQ – Grandpa John’s Rib Shack continues a Peoria tradition and does to very nicely.

I do have a few bones to pick *ahem* with my favorite rib joint, though.

First: I know those bolted-down tables and chairs came with the place, but please get rid of them. I can fit at the tables, but it’s a tight fit. I have a feeling that most people who eat a lot of BBQ might be in the same boat.

Second: Take a cue from the competition and offer diners more than just one kind of BBQ dipping sauce. It’s the only thing I like about the corporate-rib-joint-that-shall-remain-nameless. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

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