Chad “Hoss” Grigg isn’t one to divulge secrets about the dry rubs and sauces that he makes at Big Daddy’s Barbecue, his popular Meridian eatery.
But Grigg is up front about what wood he prefers.
“I like the sweetness of apple wood and cherry wood together,” he says.
Everyday he pulls baby back ribs, brisket, chicken, pork butt, sausage and turkey from an Ole Hickory-brand rotisserie smoker, and serves the smoky meats with tasty sides.
Grigg came down with the barbecue bug back when he was a program director at radio station Kiss FM.
Once barbecue geeks get the bug, it’s a hard thing to shake.
After honing his barbecue skills at home over the years, this husky-voiced pitmaster eventually left the deejay booth and jumped with both big feet (after all, his name is Hoss) into the food-service industry.
Remember the barbecue trailer that used to be in the Cabela’s parking lot? Then you may have tasted Grigg’s barbecue in its early days.
He eventually opened a brick-and-mortar spot in 2012, at the corner of Franklin and Linder roads, but the diminutive space left him wanting more.
In September, Grigg moved into a new, much larger space — just up Linder Road at Cherry Lane — to the delight of his ardent followers. (Yes, pitmasters have groupies.)
Big Daddy’s interior design speaks to the restaurant’s Americana sensibilities. The corrugated metal panels on the walls are adorned with a profusion of old license plates, retro knickknacks and vintage-looking advertising signs.
“Early American yard sale, that’s what I call it,” Grigg quips.
Wood tables get draped with easy-to-clean oilcloths, not a bad idea considering eating barbecue can be messy. There’s even a roll of paper towels on each table next to squirt bottles of housemade barbecue sauces.
The larger space has made way for a lineup of new appetizers, among them are the Tater Pigs ($5.95), a basket of made-from-scratch tater tots, crispy on the outside and oozing cheddar cheese and bits of bacon. Tots don’t get much better than this.
Chicken wings at a barbecue joint, you might wonder? Don’t overlook Big Daddy’s wings ($9.99 for a pound) because the meat is so tender that it barely sticks to the bone on these massive attached leg and wing parts, in our case lightly brushed with sweet and thick Kansas City-esque barbecue sauce.
You may want to skip the barbecue nachos ($8.99) — a pile of tortilla chips gooped up with canned cheddar-jalapeno sauce, pickled jalapenos and a drizzle of tangy barbecue sauce — yet the big pieces of smoky pulled pork on top save the dish from being a waste of time.
While the appetizers are a nice addition, most folks come to Big Daddy’s for the smoked meat plates served with a choice of two sides and a puffy dinner roll.
Slices of melt-in-your-mouth tender brisket ($13.95) are held together by a slight bark (not that jerky-tough bark found at other places), and the thick ribbons of meat boast an attractive smoke ring that’s pale pink in the center. No sauce needed on this brisket.
The toothsome slabs of meat on the baby back ribs ($16.95 for a half rack), lightly brushed with barbecue sauce in the end, are tender and smoky, clinging tightly to the bones yet coming off easily with a good chomp.
The delicately smoked turkey breast ($11.95) stays in the smoker just long enough to pick up those sweet wood flavors without drying it out.
Same goes for the chopped chicken ($11.95), a plate of tender, sliced thigh meat that exhibits a beautiful mahogany-hued bark. A squirt of Grigg’s spicy barbecue sauce brought all the flavors full circle on this one.
Sides are loaded with flavor at Big Daddy’s. Red potato salad is pocked with chopped dill pickle, red onion, hard-boiled egg, fresh dill and just the right amount of mustard. Baked red beans come in a spicy sauce that’s a little smoky. The macaroni and cheese is good and cheesy, dotted with bits of bacon. Steamed red potatoes get turned into creamy mashers with no shortage of roasted garlic and butter.
Diners also get a choice of sides with the specialty sandwiches, which include an excellent pulled pork sandwich ($8.25) with smoky shreds of pork butt and not-too creamy slaw on a standard hamburger bun. A squirt bottle of thin and vinegary Carolina-inspired barbecue sauce sits close by for flavor enhancement.
Grigg also added smoked burgers (every day) and smoked prime rib (Friday and Saturday nights only) to his new menu.
Go for an All-American Burger ($10.50), a lightly smoked half-pound patty of ground beef and pork (for juiciness) built on a potato bun with crispy bacon, lettuce, red onion and tomato. The cooks did get the cheese wrong one day (I ordered pepper jack and got cheddar), but the burger was so good that it hardly mattered.
It’s safe to say that Big Daddy’s dishes up some of the best barbecue in the Valley, and the likelihood of being called “Honey” when you walk in the door is pretty high at this friendly joint.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.