Tuff Ranch

Update: Tuff Ranch is now McNary Restaurant & Lounge

As a lover of all things barbecue (not to be confused with grilling) it was high time Mr. and I headed out to Tuff Ranch to try some of their smoky meat goodness. As we maneuvered our way through the golf course parking lot I could tell by the look on Mr.’s face that I had not warned him this BBQ joint was not your standard smoke shack.

There is a certain image that comes to mind when we think of barbecue, usually involving soot stained smokers, bare wood walls and rolls of paper towels. Not to be deterred, Mr. and I entered what looked to be the McNary Clubhouse.

Once inside we decided to head to the bar for happy hour instead of to the more formal dining room. It was a happening place; the waitress was friendly and recommended me a specialty drink while Mr. ordered a happy hour beer. He was disappointed to find that the smaller happy hour price was actually a smaller beer.

We were hungry but not in a hurry, so instead of an appetizer we ordered a cup of their German Beer Cheese Soup. The soup had a nice flavor, but I was surprised to find it thin, I expected more of a hearty thick soup, but it was more of a broth with no noticeable cheese flavor. I actually wonder if they forgot the cheese. Mr. thought it was good, but it was also not what he was expecting.

The waitress offered for us to have dinner in the bar so we opted to stay where we were. For our main course I ordered the pork ribs with the barbecue sauce on the side. For sides I got the fire pit green beans and the saloon apples.

Mr. ordered the tri-tip with the branding iron beans and the cucumber salad. When the waitress came with our food, my ribs were covered in BBQ sauce, but she caught the mishap before she even set the plate down. As she headed back to the kitchen to fix it, I got the chance to steal some bites off Mr.’s plate. The tri-tip had a mild smoke flavor with a light rub, it was tender and moist and perfectly cooked, we were very happy.

The branding iron beans were packed with meat and were tasty, but the cucumber salad was the real surprise. It wasn’t that it was spectacular exactly, but the cool creamy salad was a brilliant side dish for the sweet salty smoky flavors of the meal. I will seriously be looking for a similar recipe to serve at my next smoke-out.

When the waitress returned with my ribs sans sauce, there were garlic mashed potatoes instead of the fire pit beans, so she told me to enjoy the potatoes as well and that she would bring me the beans.

The rub on the ribs was fantastic and they were perfectly cooked. I can honestly say these were the best ribs I’ve had in this town. Their Carolina sauce was my favorite of the three they offered, but I found the light smokiness of the meat to be overpowered by the sauce and ate most of my ribs without it.

The garlic red potatoes appeared to have been mashed mechanically and were gluey, although I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like. The apples had a terrific flavor, but the variation in sizes of slices meant some were undercooked.

When the waitress brought the fire pit green beans they were cooked well, still tender and crisp but oh my goodness were they spicy! I love spicy but I don’t know many people who could handle that level of heat.

The portions were large and we each took home half our dinners to enjoy later. Overall, I would return to order the exact same thing again, which to me is a pretty good indication of how I felt about the meal.

I can see myself craving those rubbed ribs one day and having to make another trip to the golf course…

Tuff Ranch BBQ & Catering
165 McNary Estates Dr. N
Keizer, OR 97303

Posted by Kristi_Nez


Chuck Bradley said...

My notes from a June 5th, 2010 visit:

It was a gorgeous day to drive to the north end of Keizer just to check out Tuff Ranch. The first thing that struck me was the fact that the decor and ambiance of the place still feels like a country club restaurant. No new decorating or furniture. You would never suspect this is a BBQ place. I was seated in a (requested) view location which was very pleasant. My server (Lindsey, who was a delight) brought me a menu and took my beverage order. I selected the pulled pork sandwich which was heaped with fresh cold slaw and sweet BBQ sauce. For my side I chose their made-in-house potato salad. Both were good, but not great. For me, much of the fun of a BBQ place is trying a variety of sauces. Not an option here. For Salem, sadly, this is about as good as BBQ gets. (I have since discovered Duffy's Hanger and The Wild Pineapple both of which belie the previous sentence.) My server was the best part of the experience. I hope ownership appreciates what they have in her.

Anonymous said...

The food was good. The atmoshphere was really lacking. It had the retirement home feel to it. Also if you go with the coupon they put out in the savings guide for a bogo free entree. The entree implies dinner only as they put it. I looked at the coupon just above that one and it says lunch or dinner entree. So make the cutomer feel like an ass and stick him with the bill too. thanks.

Anonymous said...

The best bbq in Salem is TNTBARBQ. There are four meats and four sides and all are spectacular. This is authentic bbq at its finest. There are four sauces to choose from as well (my fav is the DaBomb sauce). I highly recommend the Pulled Pork, its the best Ive ever had.

KandN said...

December 20th Groupon for Tuff Ranch BBQ

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up on the groupon deal since I don't check it everyday. I've been curious to try them out. I just downloaded their menu off their website and it was 19 megs for a 3 page pdf file. Something is very wrong about that.

sheepdogmom said...

Off to lunch today for Valentines Day at Tuff Ranch bbq .. we've never been there. Upon arriving , we were told the bartender would wait on us but could sit wherever we liked; we chose to sit in the lounge. (dining area was empty)
The lunch menu was enticing with burgers/ hot sandwiches and variety salads but we didn't see any ribs or bbq chicken entrees which we wanted to try. OH WAIT .. what's that?? The Foursome Sampler Platter .. under the appetizer heading .. it has ribs, pulled pork, bbq chicken, fries and corn bread ... sounded like a good sample so we ordered with four alarm bbq sauce on the side.

We enjoyed excellent pints of IPA (Niniska sp?) .. very reasonable at $4 a pint; our generous platter of food arrived -- 4 meaty ribs, a mound of pulled pork and one of pulled chicken with a good portion of thin crispy fries ... they forgot the cornbread but we're on low carb diets so didn't ask for it .. the four alarm bbq sauce was wonderfully spicy hot and we were glad we asked for it on the side! The platter is $15 and filled the two of us. It is a good way to taste three different bbq meats.
We look forward to trying this place again when the sun is steady on their nice looking patio.