Monday, September 7, 2009

Brown Bag BBQ Naples Review

Brown Bag BBQ is a Naples-Golden Gate institution. It’s been 24 years on Golden Gate Parkway, cooking tasty BBQ. There’s no glittering sign; no neon signaling its presence. It’s easy to drive by and miss it, perched 60 feet behind the tall pole holding the Coronado Pkwy sign. The parking lot is small and tight From the parking lot and fading sign outside, to the smoky interior, the place could use a cosmetic (or cosmic) tune up, every 25 years. Why bother? Just follow the regulars inside. There’s a single table for four. There's no counter stools. this is good BBQ, finished while you wait. Food’s cooked to order. The kitchen is wide open. A glass fronted refrigerator has cold soft drinks and beer. The hand lettered menu is up on the wall, and on single sheets of paper on the counter, near the crock pot of baked beans. It’s been a family business for 24 years. Phil Nix, and sons Matthew, Dan and occasionally other family members, cook in this small, rectangular spot, and it can get smoky! Food is served 7 days a week, 11 am till 7 pm, or till it runs out. Don’t come late expecting ribs- call first, if in doubt.

There’s a good selection of sandwiches. Pulled pork, pulled beef , or a hamburger are each $3.77, and char grilled chicken is $4.71. Add cheese or grilled onions for $0.47, and 1.00 respectively.

Most people come regularly for the ribs and chicken. Smart move. Tasty, and tender, it’s comfort food for a couple, the family, or a party of 60. I like the dinners; each offers a choice of 2 of three sides-fries, slaw, and beans. The rib dinner (1 lb) is $12.73, the half pound rib snack is $8.49. Try the rib and chicken combo, ½ lb of ribs and ¼ chicken for $10.37. A half chicken dinner is 8.49. Sides are French fries-$2.36, onion rings- 3.77, baked beans (small and large) are 0.94 and 3.77. Hot chicken wings -$6.60, Bleu cheese 1.00, and garlic bread is a buck. Best deal? The Brown Bag Feast feeds four adults with its 2 lbs of ribs, a whole chicken, and 3 sides, for $32.08. $8 a head is a deal for very tasty BBQ!
I had the Rib and chicken combo, heated while I waited. The aroma is commanding. The food was nibbled on during the drive home, before this photo. There's more ribs and chicken than in this photo!The ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, meaty, and addictive. You can cut it with a glance. No need for a knife, fork or smothering sauce with truly good BBQ. The BBQ chicken is also wonderful, so tender and tasty! I’m not one for ordering chicken, let alone at a rib place! Both ribs and chicken are highly recommended. (A note to the BBQ fanatics-neither ribs nor chicken have the tell-tale 2 mm pink "smoke ring" rim, just under the surface, that comes with a classic, long, slow BBQ smoking process.) The BBQ sauce has a vinegar base, like western N. Carolina, not sweet like Kansas City. I also had the pulled pork sandwich- a good sized portion of tender meat and sauce. How about the sides? Stick with the ribs and chicken-that's why you are here. The cole slaw is a somewhat watery mayo base with too finely cut bits of cabbage. The fries are a generous portion, just not crisp, and could use another minute or two in the hot oil (all sampled as soon as I got in the car).

Friends maintain that Brown Bag BBQ is the best BBQ spot in Collier County. I don’t disagree. What’s the Naples competition? Michelbobs is quite impressed with itself, however they had their best times years ago. With their prodigious advertising budget, Michelbob’s is the tourist magnet. I feel like I’m in a so-so BBQ chain there. That’s fine, it leaves more BBQ at Brown Bag for locals! Tastebuds of Naples closed their popular retail BBQ store a year or so ago. Porky’s Last Stand restaurant is a block or so south of Golden Gate Parkway, just off 951, and has its local flavor. Their price point is higher than Brown Bag, serving a rack of baby back ribs for $18, pork chops for $17, a half smoked chicken for $12. It’s a large place, with plenty of seating, a bar and live entertainment- a totally different operation.. Talking chains, Shane’s has good ribs and sauces, and Rib City is decent in a pinch. My favorite chain is Lee Roy Selmon’s, in Ft Myers, worth a trip for BBQ and many Southern foods, with most prices under $10. Brown Bag BBQ is your Collier County spot for tasty take-out BBQ. If you know competitive level BBQ from Memphis, the Carolina's, Georgia, etc.; this is not in that league, nor do they claim to be-it's just a good Nix family recipe.The Brown Bag BBQ- 4748 Golden Gate Parkway, on the south side, at the Coronado Parkway huge street sign, Naples, 455-4366. Cash only.

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