BEST BARBECUE - 2010
Barbecue is primal fare: tender, fatty meat that clings to bone, slathered in a tangy sauce, and eaten out of hand. There's a reason the down-home comfort shows up on so many death row inmates' last meal requests. Barbecue is great anytime, but special occasions present something of a conundrum. Shouldn't you be treating yourself to something more special than greasy tabletops, Styrofoam packages, and plastic utensils? After years of eating barbecue served out of barrel-shaped smokers set up on sidewalks and parking lots, we love Cafe 128 for its change of pace: We can pair the restaurant's signature baby back ribs with a glass of Zinfandel and wipe our fingers on a cloth napkin. The place even has valet parking. As for the ribs, let's just say these babies got back. The meat has just the right toothsome richness, and the sauce is infused with smoky, coffee, adobo-like flavors that are cut with a sharp, vinegary tang. And just because 128 lands on the upscale end of the restaurant spectrum, that doesn't mean they skimp on the portions. A half-order of ribs comes with so many bones you might think your server has accidentally delivered a full one. Fortunately, it's no mistake, just a generous dose of their meaty best.