I had a serious hankering for ribs for some time. Things reached a head when I came home to see two clear plastic containers filled with baby-back ribs that Brad had as leftovers. So when Matt texted me and suggested getting some BBQ, I started pre-loosening the belt buckle to prepare. Instead of visiting our perpetually barbecue sauce covered friends at Ted Cook’s, we decided to branch out and try somewhere new. Matt consulted Eater’s guide to Twin Cities BBQ and we went to the first place on the list: Scott Ja-Mama’s BBQ.
At first glance, Scott Ja-Mama’s had everything a good barbecue place should have. Small menu with meat and carbs only: check. Neon signs galore: check. Three sweaty men crammed into a small kitchen: check and wink. It seemed like we made the right choice.
I really want a neon sign of my face some day.
Perhaps the first time a grilled chicken sandwich has had “New!” next to it on a menu. I also like the idea of beans being a rare and exotic treat.
We ordered almost the entire menu (i.e. we ordered “chicken” and “ribs”). Chicken was ready right then, but ribs would be about 40 minutes, so we headed down the road to a bar to grab a beer while we waited. And they had Big Buck Hunter! I kept shooting the girl deer on accident and Matt basically destroyed me. I did win the bonus round where you are in an underwater shipwreck trying to shoot as many electric eels as possible, but I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to feel about that for a lot of reasons. I cut my losses and we headed back to pick up our feast.
When we got to the restaurant, Scott himself was there to greet us. Not often do you get to meet the inspiration for a neon sign face. And to top it all off, he let us help ourselves to what I previously thought was a prop refrigerator. Matt and I both snagged A&W Cream Soda, for the lulz. We loaded up our drinks, and two hefty styrofoam containers and readied the nom tanks for happiness.
After taking my first bite of rib, I was very conflicted. On one hand, I was very glad to be sating a long-standing craving. On the other hand, the ribs were pretty bad. I’m no expert, but I am positive I shouldn’t have had to try that hard to tear the meat off the bones. I could actually hear David Attenborough in my head saying something along the lines of “the apex predator evolved over time to develop powerful incisors used to rend the flesh from its prey.” Having that inner monologue did make everything a little better, but no one has ever debated the benefits of nature documentaries or British people’s voices. I guess when you’re making a wish to your fairy god-jamama for ribs, beggars can’t be choosers.
Like I said, this basically fixes everything.
The chicken was a little meh, too. When they told us chicken was ready when we ordered, they must have just boxed up the chicken right then and turned attention to cooking the ribs, because it was room temperature when we got to it. I still thought it was tasty, but nothing spectacular. It is chicken after all, so there’s not a ton of room for error usually in terms of making it memorable.
There were some positives. The BBQ sauce at Scottie J’s is really really good. The pulled pork sandwich they have on the menu would probably be incredible with some of that sauce. Then there was the unexpected star of the show, the twice baked potato. I honestly don’t know what exactly it was. It might have just been the fact that both Matt and I picked up the potato and ate it with our hands, making for a strangely satisfying eating experience, but we both enjoyed it a lot regardless. The dinner roll was…well it was a dinner roll, and you can’t really screw that up.
I really wanted to like Scott Ja-Mama’s. And you know what, maybe I did. The people were nice, the price was right, and in general, sometimes you want something so badly that it doesn’t matter how much of a letdown it ends up being. This apex predator gives Scott Ja-Mama’s 2.125 out of 4 om noms.