Barbecue is such a divisive topic that true connoisseurs refuse to believe that it can be properly made outside of the South. Add to that the fact that Big Ern himself is from California, and ’cue aficionados grow even more skeptical. But once you smell the smoke from his brisket or pulled pork, you’ll know this is the real deal. Ern’s shop in Downtown Container Park is small, but packs ’em in. Diners clamor not only for the brisket here, but also for chicken, hot links, and ribs, all served with a sweet sauce that’s more molasses than Kansas City. Carolinans might take offense at the sauce, but they won’t be able to resist the meats on their own. It’s also rare to find a BBQ joint outside the Midwest that serves rib tips, but here they can be added on to any rib dinner. Complete your meal with classic sides like pork and beans, cole slaw, or a baked potato, make your way to a spot in the park, and enjoy a barbecue feast that won’t make you miss the South. If you find yourself North of Downtown, Big Ern’s has also set up shop at Fiesta Rancho.
- Grace Bascos