Last summer while my date was traveling, I published the Roswell Rib Roundup, which became the most viewed Date Night post in the history of the world. This year, in an unabashed try to get more hits on the blog, I concoct another BBQ challenge. The contest: who has the best ribs, Sam’s or Dave’s? It’s a messy job, but someone has to eat it…
Apparently, Sam and Dave were one of the best live acts in concert history, performing together until they split up in 1981. After watching this video, I agree. Think hits like “Soul Man” and “I Thank You”. Apparently, they know something about BBQ as well. Oh, wait. This is a different Sam and Dave, who were in business up until they too split up, but in 2011. There were two stores at the time. Dave got the West Cobb location.
Sam got the one in East Cobb.
Both are located in old shopping centers. Dave’s is in worse shape, with many vacancies. If only Cobb County would tear down eyesores like this before building more retail space, but I digress.
Somewhere in the “Rules of BBQ Restaurants” handbook is a requirement that you must have at least one cute pig-related sculpture or carving on the premises. Here’s Sam’s, quite visible from the road:
Dave’s is more subtle, just inside the door.
How cute is that?
There’s a lot of hardware in both restaurants. Evidently, these guys won a lot of contests back in the day. Sam’s looks like this:
And Dave’s looks very much the same:
It’s kind of like they used to be owned by the same people. As we will see, this is a recurring theme. At Sam’s, they bring you your food. At Dave’s, they call your number and you go get it.
I decide to order the same thing at both places: ribs, fried okra, and macaroni and cheese. I judge a BBQ place by its ribs, and the best time to get the ribs is at lunch. They tend to be overcooked later in the day, so order them at lunch and enjoy responsibly. I prefer St. Louis ribs over the baby backs, but Sam’s does not serve St. Louis ribs. I get baby backs there.
These are the meatiest, juiciest baby backs this reporter has ever eaten. They don’t fall off the bone, because if they did, they would be overcooked. I add a little sauce, but it’s not really needed. The ribs stand on the rub alone. There is a lot of love in the mac and cheese, which is made with real cheese. There’s no Velveeta in sight. The okra is fresh, hot and crispy. The sides are served in their own bowl, and real plates/cups are used here.
As I walk into Dave’s, “Hold On, I’m Coming” is playing on the sound system. I am not making this up. The food looks very similar to Sam’s.
Notice that it is served piled up on the styrofoam plate. The presentation at Sam’s is better for the environment–no waste. These are St. Louis ribs, and surprisingly are not as meaty and juicy as the baby backs at Sam’s. The mac and cheese is a little looser here, but the okra is firmer. For a small charge, you can sub out a corn muffin for your Texas toast at both places. (Does anyone ever eat the Texas toast?) Dave’s is spicier, adding jalapeño peppers.
Both meals are excellent. I would go back to either. The people at Sam’s were a little friendlier than Dave’s.
And the winner is: Sam’s by a snout. The ribs and mac and cheese are better here as is the presentation. I liked Dave’s okra and corn muffin better, but hey, you should get more points for the BBQ in a BBQ joint. And the people at Sam’s were nicer, so I present them with the undisputed Date Night heavyweight BBQ championship of the world.
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