A barbecue joint that has been on my radar for the past couple years is a place near the Quad City International Airport by the name of Bare Bones Barbecue. I've heard from a handful of people that their food is good with large portions. The only thing that sort of gave me pause in visiting the place was that they also make pizzas at the place. I sort of cringe when I find a barbecue place that takes a left turn and offers something completely different than basic barbecue. Prodded by my wife who also had been wanting to try the place out, we went there on one of our recent Monday night "date nights".
Bare Bones Barbecue has been open since 2010 and is run by Brian Canfield, son of the owner of Bud's Skyline Inn, located just around the corner and down the road from Bare Bones. (Click here to see the recent update on Bud's Skyline Inn.) Both Bud and Brian Canfield have a stake in the barbecue place. Prior to becoming Bare Bones, the building housed a breakfast place called the Omelet Shoppe, then it later became the Runway Cafe for a short time.
It was around 7 p.m. when we pulled into the parking lot at Bare Bones Barbecue located right across the street from the Quad City Airport Hampton Inn (see map). From the outside, the place isn't much to look at. They probably haven't spruced up the outside of the place since it was still the Omelet Shoppe. In fact, a big sign that says, "Cafe" still stands near Airport Road. However, on the inside, it looks fine with a number of large wooden booths and red and white-checkered cloth cover tables in the main dining area.
There's also a bar at Bare Bones featuring a full selection of liquor, wine and beer. A man who was staying at the hotel across the street was waiting at the bar for his pizza to take back to his room.
In addition to barbecue and pizza, the menu features a handful of sandwiches and, interestingly enough, a selection of omelets that are available throughout the day. They also have a small salad bar area that is available with each barbecue entree. That's something you don't see at a barbecue place very often, but as one of the servers explained to us that since they're connected to Bud's Skyline Inn - which has a very good salad bar - that's why they have one at Bare Bones, as well.
At most barbecue places I haven't tried before, I always look for a sampler platter. They had one at Bare Bones that had brisket, pulled pork and a 1/3 slab of ribs, so I ordered that. A side and the salad bar came with the meal and I ordered up baked beans.
Cindy was torn between a couple things, but ended up ordering a 1/3 slab of ribs along with their sweet creamy cole slaw. We both went through the salad bar and I was careful not to load up as I had a lot of food coming. Cindy was somewhat disappointed that they didn't have the pickled beets at the salad bar at Bare Bones like they do at Bud's.
After finishing up our salads, our barbecue platters came out. I had a middle part of the slab while Cindy got the end part. She was having problems with cutting into her ribs because they were so boney, so I traded her slabs. The barbecue platter came with some sauce that was sort of tangy and sweet, and a homemade piece of cornbread.
While there were a lot of bones in the 1/3 rack that I traded with Cindy, there was a lot of meat on the bones. It was a little difficult getting the meat from the bones on my slab, but Cindy was having no trouble getting meat off the bone from the slabe I traded her. The meat was a little chewy, but the sweet and spicy dry rub was flavorful and not too overpowering.
The brisket was basically a big slab of beef, juicy and tender. The brisket easily pulled apart and it was more like a fine piece of roast beef than what I would actually call brisket. Still, it was very good and paired with the barbecue sauce, it was a great taste sensation.
The pulled pork was also decent enough. It featured chunks and shredded pork that was also moist and juicy. I couldn't even begin to finish all that I had, so I gave Cindy portions of the shredded pork and brisket. There was more than enough for us to eat, considering the salad bar we had at the start of the meal.
While Cindy continued to eat, I had to run back to the men's room to clean the sugar and spices off my hands that had accumulated while eating the ribs. While the main dining room at Bare Bones is nice, the men's bathroom needed some attention. While it wasn't the cleanest bathroom I've been in, it was a little disappointing that the men's room would be that scuzzy in what was otherwise a clean restaurant.
The men's room and the outside appearance aside, Bare Bones Barbecue was fine enough to dine at. The barbecue was all right, not the best I've had in the Quad Cities, but there's not too many good places for barbecue in the area. I'm still a little leery of places that do pizza and barbecue together, but the pizza they brought out for the man at the bar smelled pretty good. Still, the barbecue was good and we're glad we gave them a chance. And we'll probably head back at some point.