Rubbie’s Southside Bar and Grill (Louisville, KY)

[consider this line the token “and we’ll start to write more frequently…I promise”]

According to whatever research I had done, Kentucky is famous for barbecue. Judging from the competitive grilling shows that I’ve seen (not a joke), my memory tells me that Kentucky barbecue is all about the sauce and St. Louis barbecue is all about the spice rub. I’m a sauce guy, having frequently talked people’s ears off and began awkward conversations about one’s favorite barbecue sauces until my sauce enthusiasm overtook the underwhelmed victim’s interest and desire to continue the conversation. And people wonder why I’m awkward around girls. (well, that and the fact that I have/run a website)

My class knows no bounds. Neither does my belt size.

With a GPS unit with a “barbecue” category in the “food” menu. (You tell it what kind of food you want, it tells you how to get there. Kind of like a reverse drive-thru, I guess.) We randomly picked the fourth item, “Rubbie’s.” In two hours later hindsight, I’m not sure why I, as a sauce guy, would agree to a place called “Rubbie’s,” but I guess I thought it was “Ruby’s” but spelled incorrectly.

My traveling companion gave the typical “if it looks awful, we’re going somewhere else.” I’m not familiar with Louisville at all (nor should I be, thank the FSM), so it was just a point on a map of uncertainty as far as I was concerned. Pulling up, indeed, it didn’t look too special. Rather divey, but in a quaint, people playing beanbags and poker outside of the place sort of way. I’m not picky, so it worked for me. I don’t get much out of the whole “rustic” charm thing (people who do should replace their toilets with outhouses, to make sure they’re getting the full effect of what they claim to love), but more than anything else, I didn’t want to pick yet another arbitrary place in the list of restaurants of unknown quality.

I don’t review ambiance, but in short, there wasn’t much. A food critic would include an overly colorful sentence about how “in the evening, the characterless walls and booths achieve a sense of ghostly familiarity as the drinks and conversations ebb and flow.” The menu was small, with the barbecue section tucked in a corner of the menu. There were the typical barbecue offerings: pulled pork, brisket, wings, and ribs. I picked the full rack of ribs (a whopping $12.50, which is the absolute lowest I’ve ever seen for a full rack of ribs), and my traveling partner chose the small pulled pork sandwich ($4.50). Sides selected were steak fries and onion rings, though considering my future held large quantities of meat, I laid off the fried things.

At my advanced age, I’m not prone to hyperbole, especially related to food, but (say it with me) it was truly nothing short of incredible. The meat wasn’t “fall off the bone tender,” but I have four pointy teeth for a reason. In full caveman mode, I pretty much destroyed both of the racks, using the two supplied sauces liberally. Well, actually I pretty much focused on the “normal” sauce; the “hot” was so intense that had I used of it, I would’ve had to go to a hospital and a church, and probably not in that order. The “normal” sauce was like none I’ve had before: much more molasses than I was used to, but not overwhelmingly tangy. It had bite, but no kick. They left the kicking for the bottle of “hot.”

The pulled pork was equally good (though in all honesty, I’m not a big pulled-pork fan). Perfectly tender and not at all chewy. There was some sort of smoke-aging present in both meats, but I can’t tell Mesquite from whatever else would be used for it, so I’ll just leave it at “the smoky flavor added a lot to the natural taste of the pork.”

Cheapskate or not, this is probably the most amazing part:
The total for two people was $20.13. And that includes tax. There wasn’t any alcohol on the tab (which screws up any cost comparisons), but that’s border-line ridiculous for both the amount of and quality of food presented.

And finally, the weakness of my Constitution is known all the way from here to Hong Kong, and it looks like I’ve finally found a barbecue place which doesn’t much any/much garlic in their sauce. This means that right now, my body isn’t trying to destroy itself to punish me for my foolhardiness, and that’s a first for getting barbecue at any restaurant.


Rubbie’s Southside Bar and Grill gets five BIG stars. Great food, better prices, and bean bags if necessary.

Their address:
Rubbie’s Southside Bar and Grill
6905 Southside Drive
Louisville, KY 40214

Also, I drove by what might be the worst house location I’ve ever seen: they’ve got amusement park screamers not far from their backyard, an airport across the street, and the “street” is an interstate. Too bad a railroad crossing isn’t in their backyard and the hog rendering plant a few blocks upwind closed last summer…

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  1. so, given your love of BBQ sauce, all a girl needs to seduce you is some of Nate’s patented Barbefume? also, what were you doing in the god-forsaken South?

  2. Nate, I have issues with spelling since I live just off of the misspelled avenue bearing the same pronunciation

  3. I use to work for rubbies. as a cook. i loved working for that place. i love the food as well i loved the whole place. maybe next month i will get a few bucks and stop in to see old friends. that work there.

    thank you for trying rubbies out iam happy you love the food dan. its true kentucky cooking at its best.

    thanks alot sign roberto

  4. Rubbies sunday night jam is awsome, if youve never been, id recommend it. Some good musicians come through there. Especially that guitarist, Gary.

  5. I am the owner of Rubbies and just happened across this review from 2007. We started out with barbecue being our main focus, then we offered many other items to suit our growing business. Thank you for the great compliments. I would like to ask permission to reprint your review and or photo on our website. Hopefully your travels will bring you to Louisville once again!

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