Words & Deeds

‘It’s unheard of.’ Pig out on ‘Boise’s only BBQ lunch buffet’ at new local restaurant

Steve Kubinski cooks up racks of ribs and other deliciousness at Big K BBQ at 3409 W. Chinden Blvd.
Steve Kubinski cooks up racks of ribs and other deliciousness at Big K BBQ at 3409 W. Chinden Blvd. Statesman file photo

When it comes to midday food comas, Big K BBQ Pub Room & Eatery is the place to be.

No bones about it — except the ones that come with all the slow-smoked ribs you can eat.

“Boise’s only BBQ lunch buffet” is the cozy new restaurant’s hedonistic centerpiece. Served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, it debuted when the Pub Room & Eatery opened last month at 3409 W. Chinden Blvd. in Garden City. Revamped, reimagined and reincarnated after a 15-month hiatus, Big K’s restaurant will celebrate its grand opening Friday.

Bring your appetite. The Pub Room serves a regular menu starting at 3 p.m., but that $14.95 lunch buffet is the way to roll — particularly if you want to be rolled home.

“It’s a crowd pleaser,” owner and pit master Steve Kubinski agrees. “It includes ribs, which is unheard of. A guy can probably eat $20 in ribs alone if they wanted to.”

There’s just so much to try. The feast includes 15 items: ribs, pulled pork, bourbon meatballs, smoked chicken legs, sliced assorted sausages, BBQ medley, potato salad, coleslaw, cornbread casserole, smotatoes (think smashed, loaded taters), BBQ beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, rolls, dessert and a drink. (Go with sweet tea.)

Everything is down-home tasty. The sweet, zingy sauce on the all-beef meatballs. Those satisfying, totally gnaw-able spareribs. Kubinski mixes his barbecue influences — a little Memphis-style pulled pork here, some Kansas City dry-rubbed ribs there. Apple and hickory provide the wood flavor. Kubinski prefers to let customers add the sauces to meats.

Enjoy sauce variety? Big K BBQ has plenty, including house- and locally made options.

Want a cheaper, less gut-crushing meal? Grab a Barber Shop Lunch Special from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday (BBQ medley sandwich, $5) or Friday (1/4-pound grilled sausage, $4), when sides are $2.

Side dishes at Big K are made by manager Jennifer Polanchek. Be warned: They are not for the caloric faint of heart. “Everything’s from scratch,” she says. That includes the “It’s Alright” fry sauce and Carolina Mustard. And the potato salad, including the dressing. This is important, she teases, because Kubinski dished up Reser’s Potato Salad until she came along in 2016.

Give the guy a break. He’s a protein dude!

“The term we claim is ‘small-batch barbecue,’ ” says Kubinski, who has catered ’cue for 12 years. “We’re pellet smokers. We fire ‘em up every day.”

“We run out of stuff,” Polanchek adds.

Championing “small-batch barbecue” and Garden City breweries and wineries, Big K BBQ Pub Room and Eatery recently opened at 3409 W. Chinden Blvd. in Garden City. Michael Deeds mdeeds@idahostatesman.com

Big K’s first storefront was at the now-demolished Rodeway Inn on Curtis Road in Boise. Kubinski moved the operation to Chinden Boulevard in 2015. Big K’s had a lunch counter until fall 2017. But he decided to close it — then spiff up the place and return as the Pub Room.

When the lunch buffet ends each day, Big K shuts down and transitions. “We kind of lock the door at 2, have our lunch and roll out the pub menu,” Kubinski says.

The Pub Room menu is served from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and from 11 a.m. until food runs out Saturday — usually 3 or 4 p.m. “Saturday is regular menu and food to-go,” Kubinski says. “Dine in, have a bloody beer, watch the game.”

Big K’s menu includes the barbecue standards you’d expect, ranging from a tri-tip melt ($9.95) to baby back ribs ($12.95 half rack). There are unexpected items, though, such as The Mushroom, a portabella mushroom cap stuffed with smoked buffalo chicken filling, and then topped with green onions and mozzarella, and served with celery sticks and blue cheese or ranch dressing. “There’s nothing like it,” Kubinski says proudly. “My friend said, ‘Put it on a fancy plate and charge 16 bucks for it!’ ”

Nope. It’s $8.95.

The Big K BBQ lunch buffet features 15 items, including drink and dessert. (This time, dessert was brownies.) Michael Deeds mdeeds@idahostatesman.com

The Pub Room stocks adult beverages from nine (and counting) of Garden City’s 13 breweries, wineries and cideries. “Garden City only,” Kubinski says, “and PBR for the working man. That’s it. No Bud Light. No Corona.”

The grand opening Friday will be kicked off with an 11 a.m. ribbon cutting. Local radio station KQFC-FM will broadcast a live remote from 4 to 6 p.m., and Big K BBQ will feature giveaways, raffle prizes, and food and drink specials from 4 to 9 p.m.

But again, feel free to show up earlier. Just to, you know, check out the buffet.

“Like I said, the ribs are a big pull. A big draw,” Kubinski says. “We’re the only barbecue buffet in the Valley. Not Korean barbecue. Not Chuck-A-Rama, not Golden Star. We’re the only real, 15-item, authentic barbecue buffet in Boise, Garden City, Nampa, Caldwell. It’s unique.”

Online: bigkbbqidaho.com.

Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman. Since joining the newsroom as an intern in 1991, he has been a sportswriter, features editor and entertainment editor. Deeds also co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.