My blog for my adventures with BBQ and Fireworks

Big Daddy’s Genuine BBQ in Valparaiso, IN

April 18th, 2011 | Posted by ripsup in BBQ | Reviews


Well there is finally a BBQ place in Valparaiso (Wagner’s isn’t BBQ, seriously.) It’s called Big Daddy’s Genuine BBQ (I think to be confused with Big Daddy’s BBQ in Gary that recently won the Steve Harvey 2010 Best BBQ Hoodie Award.) I’ll let that go though if they can show they have some real skill when it comes to BBQ and put out a quality product.

I was quite surprised to see a giant banner for a BBQ place “Coming Soon” down the street from me. And with the name I wondered if the recent Hoodie Award winning BBQ place was spreading it’s wings. ( It’s not I asked :( ) Finally this week I saw the sign come down and a little white paper in the window with hours so I was stoked to finally get to give it a try. Sadly, the first day I was able to go was a bust as they were closed for equipment tweaking. So a couple days later our paths finally crossed.

To start, most good BBQ comes from people who have been doing it for a long time. There is no sign that this is one of those places. The website has stock photos that don’t look like their end product and gives no real story as to who/why this person has a clue what genuine BBQ even is. I get that some people don’t have time to put their life story on a website but you would think you might have something more then what they have. I mean they did have the time to look for and put up those bad photos (I’ll explain more when I explain the food.)

So on Saturday the restaurant had 3 sauces to offer – regular, smokey, and spicy. All three were nothing special, pretty bland overall but of the three the smokey was the one I liked. I know some will be sad at the lack of a vinegar sauce but around here it’s pretty rare so I’m not surprised. These really need some work overall but I’m guessing they are some simple standard recipe and not something crafted by a pit master who’s been toiling and tweaking till there family wants to strangle them for making them taste every variations for years.

I wanted to taste everything I could so I ordered the St Louis half rack combo which I got with mac and cheese and cowboy beans. I also was able to “add a dab” of pulled pork and brisket for $3 a piece. The dabs were a nice size for $3, but it was opening week so we will see how those are in a few months. Coleslaw also comes with the combo.

The ribs were well smoked and tasted pretty good. I think they could have cooked it a tad bit longer as they were a little tougher then the “chew” you would normally expect but I would rather have that then the “fall off the bone before it even makes it to you” type others make. They didn’t trim the ribs at all which I know would get some negative points from others but personally I like mine with all that extra fat and quantity of meat overall was good.

The brisket was good overall (my wife liked it and never had brisket before) but it was definitely not “Genuine BBQ” brisket. They treated it more like a pulled beef and could have been made with chuck roast for what I could tell. It definitely wasn’t what they have pictured on their website and what is expected by most BBQ peeps. Now while it’s not genuine I would get it on a sandwich for sure as it was flavorful.

The pulled pork was bland and just a waste. I’ve had a lot of bad pulled pork in my days and this is par for the course in the garbage that most people serve. It’s also what makes me think this person doesn’t know what “Genuine BBQ” really is.

As for the sides, the coleslaw was okay (which actually is a compliment as most the time it’s been garbage even in the good BBQ places I’ve been to.) The cowboy beans were okay as well, I’d rather see a Brunswick stew for the leftover pork BUT at the same time they could also do that bad as well. :) Mac and cheese wasn’t my cup of tea as it was basically a lump of noodles, a lump of cheese, and sprinkled with bacon.

So in the end, I’m glad to have a place I can go and get my “smoke fix” on days I don’t have time to make up some of my own BBQ (which sadly is more often then not) but this isn’t going to be one of the great BBQ places out there. I’ve not made it up to Big Daddy’s in Gary yet but will have to try soon just so I can make a comparison but I’m betting it won’t be close. Though I really should have known this was going to be what I should expect when I saw the appliance smoker and not a custom made pit. So in the end I’d give the place a 6 out of 10. I’ll definitely eat here again but it’s definitely not a place I’d recommend as “genuine BBQ.”

Big Daddy's Genuine Barbeque on Urbanspoon

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  • RG

    And that’s why I defer to people who actually know the subtleties and not so subtleties of food. As I mentioned on the Twitter, I liked it; brisket was more flavorful than the pulled pork, didn’t have the ribs. Kids liked the M&C, the chicken and the “meat” as they call it. The sauces weren’t much of a set apart, one was actually a bit ketchupy in texture. The beans had some spice, which I liked.
    Price points were a bit odd – I had the same amount of brisket (meal) as the $3 add-on of pulled pork. For the whole shootin’ match, that seemed a bit high for what you get and feel of the place. Some additional menu/bundling/a la carte options would be good to see as they settle in. The space looks a lot bigger with the reduction of all the big, heavy wood items from El Salto.
    Bottom line is I’ll go back, just need to figure out best way to package things.

  • Jeff

    We attempted to eat there on Saturday night. We ended up leaving as all we saw was about 10 (hungry) people sitting at tables waiting for their food. Kinda scared us and we were hungry so we left. Menu looked good and place smelled great.

  • ripsup

    I went back again today for lunch and I have to say the portions have already shrunk a bit. Of the 4 coleslaws at our table, 2 had barely a spoonful in it. I got the brisket sandwich and it was less smoky and flavorful then last time. Everyone at the table agreed that the smoky sauce was the best but all were not that good.

    I tried the baked corn today as a side and it was good. Nothing special but was better then the 2 I had last time. Also the cheese looked better in the mac and cheese that another at my table got. It was more liquid-y and covered the noodles better than what I got this weekend.

    So still the same review and score, they are just lucky to be the only BBQ place in town. :)

  • Fat Pete

    Hard to believe the seemingly positive comments/review. We went Friday night and were stunned at how bad it was. First off is the cafeteria style service, which would be ok if the food was good. Second, I didn’t smell any wood smoke when we got there which made me nervous that they were using liquid smoke. Then there was the food. We ordered the brisket, ribs, mac an cheese, beans and cole slaw. The brisket came chopped instead of sliced, not what I’m used to but no big deal if the flavor is there. The brisket was gross, there were huge chunks of gelatinous fat throughout the meat almost half of the portion was inedible. Clearly this brisket was not slow smoked, smoking allows the fat to melt through and baste the meat without leaving it greasy and nasty. It’s not unusual to have 3-4 inches of fat in the tray in my smoker. The ribs first bite was of an ok flavor but we had the same problem as the brisket, grease just dripping from the ribs in each bite clearly not slow smoked for the same reason as the brisket. The mac and cheese was ok but hardly a reason to go. Nothing wrong with the beans but nothing to get crazy about either. No idea what the cole slaw tastes like, it was browning and wilted, again pretty gross. I’ve heard the chicken is good but I’ll never find out.

  • Richard

    Not sure why you would call my review positive when i said it’s just lucky to be the only BBQ place in town. I’ve had significantly worse “BBQ” from other places that lets this place slip by. Yeah it’s obvious that they aren’t doing a proper smoking and the brisket is exactly where you see it at. The ribs just weren’t trimmed. Counting on the time you went it’s probably way after they smoked the food in the morning. They are just using a “hot box” as one of my co-workers put it and if they have it well ventilated you wouldn’t smell it. Both times I went in you could (both around lunch) but it doesn’t change that they are obviously not doing anything close to “genuine” BBQ.

    But also not quite sure the dig on the “cafeteria style” when every great BBQ place I can think of is like that. The chain/sit down one has been where I’ve had some of my worst.

    And you must have a tiny fat tray on your smoker, to have 3-4 inches of fat on mine I’d have to melt off about 3 pork shoulder size pieces of 100% fat to pull that off. :)

  • Fat Pete

    Thought you gave it 6 out of 10 which would be better than average, maybe not. I have a vertical smoker with about a 12″ square drip pan. We load it up with ribs,brats and pork shoulder when we cook, leaves a bunch of fat I’ll actually measure it next time for curiosity. Is any of your fat dripping burning off? I have water in the pan most of the smoke so I know I’m not burning any fat. Regardless of how much fat is in the pan there is none dripping off the meat. The cafeteria style would have been fine if the food was good not sure if that bothered me going in or going out after the meal. I was thinking of Famous Dave’s when we headed out so I probably compared it to that. Can’t imagine them surviving if another place comes in.

  • Richard

    Actually the drip pan is like 4′x2′ in the one I’m using currently, so you can imagine how much fat it would take to go 3″ on that. :) it’s also where charcoal falls at on one side so it’s not all for fat I just use it for both when smoking. In past (and on future one I’m working on), I was just using the normal alum pan, but probably never had a quarter inch total, and that’s just a shoulder and couple of chucks but multiplying in my head how much would take for 3 inches made me think wow that’s a shit ton of meat :)

    Oh and the 6/10, I think of it like school grading, that’s a D. Basically anything below 5 I wouldn’t’ go back to again, and this is as close as you can get and if there was anyplace else I’d be there.

  • Rudeinc

    I went there for lunch on Friday 4-27-11. I got there around 1:30pm and after looking at the menu (What? no hot links?…. strike 1) for a minute or two I decided that I would try the ribs. Baby back’s ($21.95 full slab) being my first choice then the St. Louis style ($19.95 full slab). So I head up to the counter and place my order and the cashier tells me that they are out of ribs…..out of ribs? Which ones? I asked. She proceeds to tell me both. They had only been open for a few hours and they were out of ribs? WTF…Strike 2. So I stand back and re-evaluate my options. I decide to go with the Brisket sandwich combo that comes with fries and coleslaw for just under $10.00 and I added a “dab” of pulled pork for $2.95 and a drink $1.75….total just shy of $15 bucks. I took pictures of my sandwich, and my dab of pork (I hope I post them right) To keep it short and sweet: The pulled pork and huge chunk of fat that came out was absolutely flavorless. There was a “rub” flavor in spots where they had sprinked what looked a dry rub seasoning over an area of the less than 1/2 filled basket that came out. It kind of looked like the Tony Chachere rub that I put on beer butt chicken, and deep fried turkey’s. The Brisket did have more flavor (not saying much) than the pork but was dry and fatty and served on Texas Toast style bread that was slightly toasted. The 3 sauces were hardly BBQ restaurant worthy. The fries were probably the best part of the meal and I would rate the coleslaw but as you can see from the picture there really isn’t more than a fork full in the cup.

  • Richard

    First updated the links to the pics, something about the original links was acting weird so just made’s of them real quick.

    Thanks for taking those pics, it looks like they have already tried to make some significant changes to the product (probably based on reviews like this) since I’ve been there. WTF are they sprinkling rub on after like that, that’s just crazy. I guess trying to hide the fact they have no clue how to do pulled pork and that it’s really bland.

    Looks like they finally started slicing the brisket, though those slices look way to thick from what I can tell.

    Definitely tell they are just trying to ride the fad over actually being dedicated to making some good quality “genuine” BBQ.

  • BBQ Dude

     I had the Texas Brisket sandwich, Mack & Cheese, and Corn bread. The brisket was very good, just the right amount of bark and cut thick. They serve the sandwiches on Texas Toast, great idea. The toast was just right and didn’t take away or change the flavor of the meat. I really liked the Mack & Cheese, the unique noodles was a nice touch. The corn bread was also very good. The portions were large. The resturaunt was very clean (including the bathroom), good spacing between tables, and pleasant environment.
    Conclusion – I will definitely be going back for more.

  • Richard

    From what I’m hearing around town, you are one of the few.  Not much positive being said. It seems like they are very much a work in progress as I heard they now have some other sauce from the 3 that were there when I was but that really concerns me overall.  I’d rather have a BBQ place that was created by someone who knew good BBQ (especially if you are going to call it genuine without understanding what that means) before they opened their place and didn’t need to completely change everything to eventually get there.

  • Softtouchtony

    The rest of these comments are not accurate as far as my experiences has been at big daddys. I’ve been a customer since opening day & have been satisfied everytime! The brisket is the best I’ve ever tasted in Indiana! I also love the cowboy beans & the corn bread muffins are amazing as well. The custom bbq sauces are good but are not needed due to the quality of the meats. Great food, good service, @ a fair price. Keep up the good work Big Daddys!!!

  • Richard

    Then you seem to be one of a few because everyone else seems to agree with the rest of the comments.  Had it again recently (someone else was stopping there so asked them to pick me up some to try again) and the brisket was even worse.  

  • Blacklildog

    becuz of you there is no longer on jackass

  • Richard

    Yes, it was this post and not the fact they didn’t know how to run the business or that their food was sub par. I wish I had that kind of power because there a few other restaurants I wouldn’t mind closing.