Adam's Rib

On a Saturday I was working downtown and thought I'd treat myself to a lunch at Adam's Rib. I will confess upfront that I am a hard judge of barbecue, so consider yourself warned.

When I stepped in there were a couple people in front of me and the place seemed pretty busy for a weekend lunch. I hadn't noticed much of smoke smell on my way to the door which was disconcerting, but once inside I could smell that familiar scent of smoked goodness in the air.

First of all, they have big news! Adam's Rib opened a Tap Room in February! Their flier says they have 12 beers on tap and over 32 bottled beers.

Since I was doing a quick lunch I decided to try their brisket sandwich and hush puppies. The hush puppies are my favorite. I ordered my meal to go as I had to get back to work. As I waited I stood by the cash register and watched the employees work. This was my mistake.

Usually when you order you take a seat at a table and because of the high walls the kitchen is pretty much invisible. From where I was standing, I could see quite a bit. And I have to say I was disappointed. I watched half racks of ribs get taken from the microwave, stripped of their saran wrap, cut and placed in customers baskets. I watched two more half racks go in the microwave for over 4 minutes each! For me that is not barbecue, that is leftovers.

I was given my lunch by a friendly guy and I headed on my way. Hush puppies are no good after sitting in a take out bag and so I started munching on them on my way to the car. They were crispy and slightly spicy and tasted of fried corn. Yum.

Once back at my office I got to take a shot at the sandwich. Oddly the brisket was pulled, not sliced, which wouldn't have been so bad except the pieces of pulled meat were over 5 inches long. The meat was dry and hard to bite through so I couldn't really eat it like a sandwich. I don't know if it was the microwave or the lack of smoke smell outside the restaurant but I just can't believe that was freshly smoked meat. Their barbecue sauce is good and, although it goes against my nature, I slathered everything in sauce and ate it anyway.

BBQ is limited in Salem and over the last couple of years Mister and I have had an array of experiences at Adam's. Once after a day of moving we went in tired and filthy and swear we had the best meal ever. Another time we had staff mopping with strong cleaners under our table while we ate, a clear indication they wanted us to leave.

Adam's Rib seems to be an institution in this town, people who love it really love it. Signs all over the restaurant show they've been voted "best in Salem" a number of times. Their sauce is served on the Western burger at Willamette Burger Company and they're often seen at local events serving pulled pork sandwiches.

But for me, without a smoker out front smoking meat everyday and ribs from the microwave, it'll be a long time before I'll be back.

1210 State Street
Salem, OR 97301


Anonymous said...

I have to agree... I have never had good food here. It not only tastes reheated, but staleand dry. I do not spend my money here... I make gooooood ribs at home, why would I want to eat someone's reheated leftovers? No thanks.

I always imagine that one of the only reasons Adam's Rib is always noted "best bbq" in Salem is because it's the ONLY bbq in Salem that people can think of when it comes time to vote. It's a shame.... really gives a false sense of greatness. I do know people who swear by this place, but you could not get me in the door on my own dime.

Dennis said...

I've ever heard good enough comments about this place to ever want to go. In addition (agnostic that I am---no flaming please) the idea of being subjected to Christian music during a meal has always been a turnoff.

Kristi said...

Good point Dennis, I neglected to mention the subtle religious reference in the name "Adams Rib". Bible verses and modern christian music are to be found inside. We've also been told there is a 2 beer limit. I don't know if the two are related, but they are worth mentioning.

Anonymous said...

I've eaten there three times. Here are my observations:

- The pulled pork was really good B+

- The burgers and fries are good, a solid B

- The ribs were dry and chewy the two times we had them. It honestly tasted like they were in a holding big for a long long time and reheated to be served. D+

- The beer was cold. A

- The muzak channel on the TV was beyond annoying the one time we ate there at lunch and it was relatively quiet (other times it was bustling enough I don't recall noticing). Silence would be better. My guess is that they are trying to push you out the door as quick as possible. D-

I offer my comments in the form of constructive criticism. If I hear of improvements, it is a place that I would like to frequent.

Anonymous said...

Hubby and I dined here once. And let me tell you, once was enough. We too, got the "reheated" ribs. We did get a nice cold beer, but that was the highlight of our meal. Sides were just so-so. Nothing to make you want to go back. I really wonder if anyone who votes for this place knows what good BBQ is? Cause' this aint it folks!

Amecameca said...

Anyone who would open an authentic wood-smoked BBQ joint here would do well. Buster's was not bad and I'm sad they didn't make it here. I had a brisket sandwich and smoked BBQ beans at their Tigard store last week. The beans are amazing. Really smoked, not just smoke flavored. For the best BBQ in Oregon you'll need to drive a couple hours south down I-5 to Big Stuff BBQ in Cottage Grove. While you're there tell them they need to open a branch in Salem.

Anonymous said...

Baldy's BBQ 2 in Bend and one in Redmond. Voted Bend's Best BBQ - '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11.

Anonymous said...

A couple years ago, my nephew and his bride had Big Stuff cater their outside wedding banquet. It was truly good BBQ. They did a simple, yet great job. I would eat at their establishment anytime!

Doug Gabbard said...

For good BBQ, it's worth the drive to Albany to go to Bo-Mack's.

Chuck Bradley said...

I recently discovered Uncle Jack's BBQ in Amity. It's worthwhile, I thought. The BBQ Chicken was some of the best I've had. Pulled Pork was good. Brisket was a fatty one (which happens) but they carved it with, rather than across the grain. I've had it with Adam's Rib, until I hear they've cleaned up their act.

gstatty said...

The one time I went to Adam's for BBQ it was an utter disappointment. Mind you I grew up in North Carolina and have a refined palette for BBQ and have been eating it and making it my whole life. I went in for some pulled pork once and it was the dryest, stringiest, poorest excuse for pulled pork that has ever graced my taste buds. The tables were sticky as were the bottles that held the sauce. The hush puppies were like giant golf ball sized grease nuggets that made me shake my head in sadness. Hush puppies are supposed to be fluffy and light, crispy and golden on the outside and hot and steamy on the inside. At least they got their BBQ sauce and sweet tea right. Since that experience I've never been back.

I did, however, eat their sliders at the Salem bite festival once and they were really good. Cooking to order or at least smoking meat fresh everyday doesn't seem like to much to ask. Microwaved bbq is just a colossal letdown. I've been told Bo-Mack's in Albany is great. My go-to for BBQ is Podnah's pit or Rio's Ribs up in Portland when I'm not smoking my own at home.

Anonymous said...

is there a adams ribs in old town of san diego?

Chuck Bradley said...

Though not schooled in the fine art of BBQ, Adam's Rib is a sad excuse, in my opinion. The food is hit and miss and the unacceptable housekeeping and seemingly miserable employees are enough to keep me away.

I have had some good ribs at Duffy's and The Sandwich Shop in Salem.

Here are some other solid bets if you don't mind a little drive:

Big Stuff BBQ
733 E Main ST
Cottage Grove

Pig Feathers
300 S Mains ST

Stampede BBQ Co.
1319 NE Baker

Bo-Mack's BBQ
119 SE 1st AVE

Wild Hog BBQ
9226 SE 82nd AVE