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Big Daddy’s BBQ Truck at Campus Pitt Stop

Posted by cmh gourmand on June 10, 2018

Let me begin by sharing three words lead to intense disappointment when used in the same sentence: New, BBQ and Columbus. When I amd told about a new BBQ joint in Columbus, I get a bit giddy but just like Charlie Brown running to kick the football, new BBQ spots are most often like Lucy, pulling the ball / my enthusiasm away at the last possible moment. Columbus, as a metropolitan area has a very low bar for what I consider good BBQ. Many people still seem to view this as some type of exotic food that must be nurtured and supported until it can stand on its our merits without massive support. I still chase any new BBQ joint like I did any new girlfriend in the first decade of the 21st Century, with hope but somehow knowing I would be disappointed or burned in the end.

(Let me take a moment for a brief tangent. It is highly likely there will be some odd typo somewhere in the post. For the last couple years, this has been a consistent quirk of this web log. Let me assure you three or six months later or maybe one of two years from now, I will reread this post and correct it while I am rewriting at least two or three sentences of this. I do this with almost everything I write. For some reason, I need to read it fresh a few days or weeks later to spot the typos and fine tune my message. The whole reengineering process to posts makes them at least 3% better in the end (so reread the last 700 posts to see what I am talking about). So let me assure you, this will eventually be a perfect post, but probably not in the first month of online life).

When I heard about Big Daddy’s it was from an unlikely source – the Grumpy Old Man (known to some readers) aka The Chicken Whore (known to a very small subset of the CMH Gourmand readership). When he mentioned he had eaten Big Daddy’s three times already and was miffed that I have not told him about it first I was shocked. But the big shocker was that these meals had been obtained by his lovely but very status conscious wife. I could not imagine her going to a food truck or taking a risk on such a meal. However, she did and apparently was very enthused about it. This was disturbing to my world view but it provided great hope. I have well over a dozen BBQ places profiled in the annals of CMH Gourmand and almost all of them are in parts of town the bravest of my readers would fear to tread. Big Daddy’s is at Campus Pitt Stop located at the northeast corner of Lane Avenue and Kenny Road. This may be among the least intimidating areas in Central Ohio.

(Another brief note): Campus Pitt stop is an odd type of business, the Columbus equivalent of Mos Eisley on Tatooine from Star Wars. At one time this was a gas station. In theory this should be a thriving retail outpost with easy proximity to Ohio State, Upper Arlington and other thriving areas. This lot is packed with cars that need a parking spot for OSU Football home games but otherwise it is often desolate. This is a carry out of sorts that also houses an odd assortment of what looks to be a rotating selection of flea market items. The only thing notable about the Pitt Stop is that they have the largest selection of Ballreich’s snack products I have seen anywhere outside of the Ballreich’s factory in Tiffin Ohio. The Pitt stop also offers a wide assortment of rental trucks and always seems to have a random number of cars on the lot with no owners or someone working on one of them. I also observed that is has been the home of many food trucks that probably never should have entered into the food truck trade.

Moving on to Big Daddy’s. The back story begins near Detroit. Big Daddy – who is not small but certainly not a large man, is very friendly and hard-working soul. He works as an electrical contractor during the week and runs the smoker connected to the Big Daddy’s Friday and Saturday (only open on these days) and on the seventh day, he rests. This is a family affair with his daughter and often a niece working the truck window while he tends the smoker. His BBQ origins begin with his father near Detroit. By report Big Daddy’s father was not an all-star at BBQ but he was a “foodie” before there was a name for such an affliction. Big Daddy’s Dad was always passionate about the journey to find the best of any food. While on this pilgrimage his son (Big Daddy today) discovered BBQ and decided to study it in-depth. This led to his own trips all over the country sampling all styles of BBQ from South Carolina to Texas. It took Big Daddy a long time to perfect and fine-tune his craft. He has now taken his hobby out on the streets in food truck format. He says the food truck business has not been easy (it never is) but he has learned from mistakes and is feeling good about the current location at the Campus Pitt Stop.

As an aside here, before I forget, let me say that there are a couple of elements to having a great food truck. Any good food truck needs to have good food, that is the baseline. But a great truck as a personality to it. Usually in the form of the owner or sometimes the team that works it together. Often owners become detached from their food trucks over time and let others operate them – these trucks are doomed to be average or they may start to suck. The food and the truck are a reflection of the owner and if the owner is not there – or if the owner is not interesting and/or passionate about their food you experience will not be the same. In a brick and mortar example, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants are consistently good but they were better when he was working his own kitchen and the place resonated that energy. In the same vein, Jeni’s ice cream was much better when Jeni was scooping her own ice cream. When you remove the creator from the creation something is lost.

On my initial trip to Big Daddy’s I played it safe, I selected a four meat sampler and a side of Mac & Cheese. I knew I was going to be pleased the moment I lifted the styrofoam lid.

I was intrigued by the giant piece of bread topping the mountain of meat. Big Daddy’s steers clear of the typical slice(s) of generic store loaf white bread with a slightly toasted, buttered and seasoned piece of Italian style bread. This holds up well to the rigors of large amounts of BBQ sauce and can be used as a napkin in a pinch. I moved on to the small cubed pieces of brisket. These were full of flavor and not fatty. The smoked sausage was well cooked and true to the roots of the Texas style favored by Big Daddy. Next, because it was my favorite, the grilled, BBQ chicken wings were absolutely fantastic by any rating scale.

The wings are served in their entirety – not just the drum but the entire wing. It was grilled properly and significantly sauced. The meat hiding behind the skin was moist, succulent and resonated with chicken flavor. As a Kansas City BBQ Society Certified BBQ judge I can say with some authority that these wings are competition quality. I also tried the ribs. By tried I really mean devoured with an intensity that would terrify a lion or tiger or bear with rabies. These ribs were perfectly cooked – plenty of meat and very flavorful with just a bit of char. Often when I try ribs in Columbus, they have been cooked to the point of mummification or are dry or the meat clings to the bone like a drowning man to the bow of a sinking ship. Not the case here these were also competition quality.

Based on this one visit, I was very hopeful. I had an obligation to go back. I had to make sure I was not dealing with a BBQ fluke or the possibility I had lowered my standards subconsciously after so much mediocrity in the past. Also, I had promised I would be back. While chatting it up with Big Daddy’s daughter and asking too many questions about the sauces (sweet and tangy are the two choices) and inquiring if the Daddy’s Boy sandwich was similar to the Cleveland cult classic Polish Boy, I was told I had to have that sandwich. There was a clear call to action.

On my second visit I ordered the Daddy’s Boy sandwich and more wings. The wings were great the second time around. The Daddy’s Boy is similar to a Cleveland Polish Boy. The sandwich features a foot long BBQ Sausage (I did measure it), pulled pork, cole slaw, french fries and a lot of sauce (I opted for sweet on the second visit).

This is a good sandwich. It has many similarities to the Polish Boy of Cleveland. The Big Daddy’s tangy sauce does have the unique flavor and a slight purple or pink hue to it like the Polish Boy sauce but it is a different sandwich. I could not eat this in one sitting and I could not consume it with my hands. The use of the Italian style bread here is a plus because it holds up to the weight of the sausage, pork and fries and does not disintegrate due to the saturation of sauce. The sandwich is a good introduction to Big Daddy’s because it lets one sample about one half of the menu in one box.

I tried the mac and cheese. The Big Daddy’s version is true to the tradition of most BBQ and/or soul food joints, it leans toward a reduced ratio of cheese (creamy) to macaroni. I liked that Big Daddy’s was not reluctant to limit peppering their version. I prefer my Mac and Cheese to be cheesier but that did not limit me from enjoying this and finishing the container.

The greens were good. This is saying a lot. The best greens I have ever had came from Woody & Jo’s which as been closed for years. I rarely find greens that I enjoy. Typically they lack flavor or seasoning or both. Often they are overcooked or undercooked. And sometimes the greens are not sufficiently diced before serving. The only place I have ever ordered greens more than once is Ray Ray’s therefore those serve as my current standard. Big Daddy’s runs a close second in my hierarchy of greens. These are properly cooked, seasoned well and have a large amount of tasty meat integrated into the mix.

In conclusion, Big Daddy’s is likely to please your palate. Tips go to the college fund to send Big Daddy’s daughter to college and my guess is so will much of the profits. Enjoy good food while supporting a small family business at the same time.

Big Daddy’s BBQ on Facebook

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One Response to “Big Daddy’s BBQ Truck at Campus Pitt Stop”

  1. Sounds like a place worthy of seeking out. Btw I adhere to the same pattern of polishing a post up after the fact on my blog, it’s hard to see small errors when you are too close to a piece. Despite the disclaimer I did not come across any typos or grammatical errors upon further reading.

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