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Best Barbeque in Fresno

Reopened this week!

A barbeque joint opened up in January at N. Fresno St. and W. Clinton Ave. It closed down within a few weeks but I had a chance to taste the Q. If you like the Central Texas Barbeque in Castroville you'll like this place. I got a plate of hot smokey brisket and links that was the best I've had in this town and for just $7.

It's a divy place with take-out only but the price is right and the food is unforgettable. I'm hoping this will send them some business so they'll stay open. The only name painted on the building is "BBQ Joint opening soon", which was up there about 9 months before they moved in.

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  1. Your description is a little confusing, Fresno St. intersects "East" Clinton @ roughly the 2200 block or so. The NW corner has an auto body shop, the NE the Veterans Hospital. On the SW is May Cafe (Viet) and Fresno Seafood (gas and a couple of other businesses), the SE gas, Queenies (bakery & banh mi), and Pho 90(?).

    Please pin it down for us, last consensus, iirc, is that the local hounds are still searching for that elusive great Q.

    5 Replies
    1. re: PolarBear

      Lo siento. As of today there's a sign that says Ruben's Barbeque on the side of the building. It's the next building down from the autobody shop (toward Blackstone). Indeed it's on E. Clinton -- I tend to be directionally challenged sometimes.

      My roommates ate there today and say it's even better than it was last time. Hard to believe. But I'll find out for myself this weekend.

      1. re: Blueayez

        Thanks B, will be heading back into the office on Monday, just a half mile or so away, will give it the 4k11.

        1. re: PolarBear

          I look forward to giving it a try, too.

          1. re: PolarBear

            Did you get a chance to try Rubens?

            1. re: Blueayez

              Last week was flat out insane, didn't even have time to think about it. I did locate the place today, which wasn't easy.

              It faces Clinton (on the north side) in the building west of the auto place on the NW corner at Fresno St. The building looks abandoned, but the second door (moving west) is the one you want. There's no sign in front, just some orangish paper hung up on the window. If you're traveling west on Clinton you'll see a large sign on the east end of the building, strangely enough, there's a white hand drawn paper sign in the back that you can kind of see looking west on southbound Fresno. Here's the actual street address:

              2421 E. Clinton

              Hours: Wed - Sat, 11am to 7 pm

              Have to attend a retirement BBQ at work on Wed, so will probably be next week at the earliest before I can get back there.

      2. It has reopened, and yes, it is on East Clinton at Fresno, across from the hospital. Ruben's Rib Shack is now in that same space at 2421 E. Clinton. You park behind the building in a lot where you'll notice their two enormous BBQs smoking up tons of huge ribs, tri-tip and chicken breasts. The day I tried it I was so overwhelmed by having to make a choice that I got the Hungry Man Special--just one order--but enough juicy, smoky, spicy ribs, tri-tip, chicken and hot links, plus sides and garlic bread, to feed me and my husband with leftovers for the next day. It is inexpensive, authentic, lovely barbecue and the people running it are very nice and helpful. It has the feeling of a mom-pop operation: I hope they make it, so anyone reading this, please give it a try.

        1. Stopped in late Thursday afternoon and got the Hungry Man dinner and added two ribs ala carte for $5, had a lot of food left over, but demolished everyone of the ribs. Great sauce, nice kick and not too sweet. Easily enough chicken, tri-tip, and pork left over for another meal for two. Wished I'd thought to ask for extra sauce to make sandwiches with the pork and tri tip. Sausages were a little dry but most likely due to our reheating since we didn't eat for about three hours after I'd picked up the order.

          Sides: Baked beans are excellent, little pieces of what seemed to be rib meat and a little heat like the BBQ sauce, potato salad very good as was the 3-bean, decent pilaf, didn't try the corn.

          Ruben's a great guy, and handing out $1 off coupons good through May. Wishing I had a couple of orders of those ribs right now.

          [Edit to add]
          Ruben's Ribs
          2421 E. Clinton Ave (NW at Fresno St.)
          (559) 222-7422 (note, this no. wasn't answered when I called, had to dial their other line)
          (559) 375-6427

          1. I got a chance to stop by here for lunch with a colleague last week. We each ordered a beef sandwich & shared an order of french fries.

            While ordering, I asked what cut of beef they were using, expecting it to be brisket. I was told it's not brisket but is something else that I cannot now remember--he said it was just like a tri-tip but with less fat. Any ideas?

            When we parked in the back I noticed that the smoker was being loaded up with charcoal briquettes. The meat was very flavorful (wonderful, thick-but-not-too-much smoky flavor) & also moist. The bun was generally fine--I suppose it was a basic, buttered bun--but seriously: who's paying attention to the bread with such wonderful BBQ meat.

            First glitch: no sauce for our sandwiches. Was I supposed to ask for sauce or should it have come on the sandwich or on the side automatically? We did receive an un-ordered side of pineapple chunks in a styrofoam cup prominentaly labeled "PC"--was that supposed to be our sauce? I have no answers; only questions. It tells you something about how good the meat is, though, when we ate our entire sandwiches without sauce.

            Fries were good: probably hand-cut (each fry seemed to be a different shape & size), heavy on the seasoned salt. It was a large clam-shell container but still a bit pricey at $5. I'd probably skip the fries in the future just because they were not fabulous & I'd rather spend my money on more BBQ.

            Pineapple chunks were very sweet; uniform shape indicates they were out of a can. And like the french fries, I'd probably pass on the pineapple next time around.

            I asked about them being closed for a few weeks before they re-opened & was told that was a different owner. I wanted to ask more questions--where were they from, how did they get into the BBQ business, etc.--but a line was starting to form out the door so I had to put a lid on my game of 20 Questions.

            1 Reply
            1. I tried the rib sandwich on sat and it was GOOD !!! I hope this place sticks around because i will be going back for more.

              3 Replies
              1. re: corrynsmom

                Ruben's BBQ was given a write-up in the second part of Joan Obra's column in todays Bee. I think she must check in here occasionally...

                1. re: Gail

                  Yes, Joan is a CH fan. I tried to post a link to her blog in which she refers to CH and fresnofamous' comments on Ruben's. You can find it on fresnobeehive, the May 5 entry.

                  1. re: PolarBear

                    Finally got by to try Ruebens. Just ordered the rib sandwich and it was excellent! Very meaty and moist ribs cooked to perfection. Now, I loved the sauce because it had a little kick to it as PB previously mentioned but it could be a little too much for people who aren't into spicy. Next time i'll get the Hungry Man dinner to sample all the other meats. Two city policemen came in while i was there and Rueben doesn't even sell donuts so i guess thats good reference too!

              2. Based on the recommendation from this forum, me and a co-worker went to Reuben’s Rib Shack for lunch today (it’s really close to our office). First off, everyone who goes there will soon find out that it’s strictly a take out BBQ place; there are no tables to sit down and chow down. You order the food and pick it up, then go back to your home/office to eat. Beverages are only available from a vending machine. That being said, there was a decent line of people waiting there for their orders, so the good word is getting around. I ordered a rib plate for about $10, which came with two pork ribs, a small scoop of rice and one scoop of beans (my choice of sides) and a slice of bread.. The barbeque was definitely tasty and the sauce/meat balance was just right--not overpowering or too sweet. The bones were tender and meaty—in the end, it’s very good barbeque. My only complaint is that it’s a bit expensive and there’s just not enough food—I mean, $10 (plus tax) for only 2 bones? They should have it more reasonably price (maybe $7.99) and/or at least give you more food for the price. My friend ordered a combo special for $12.99 and it came with 2 ribs, one SLICE of hot link and one half piece of chopped chicken breast. Overall, my friend also liked the food, but thought it was a bit expensive for the quantity of food you received. It makes for an expensive lunch, which is somewhat filling, but not that filling. For typical carnivores like us, you’ll know what I mean. If Reuben could either give more food and/or lower the prices, the Barbeque would be a hit. Right now, it’s only good for an occasional visit for guys accustomed to paying $5-$8 for a decent sized lunch. No doubt, it’s still very tasty barbeque.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bluemeanie

                  Based on the good reviews and the fact that we work nearby (does everyone in Fresno work in the area of Clinton and Fresno Streets?), we decided to try Ruben's Rib Shack. We have to say that our experience was not as positive as those experienced by the other reviewers.

                  As everyone has mentioned, Ruben's is strictly a cash-only, take-out establishment. The menu is limited (beef, ribs, chicken, hot links, and pulled pork), which is not a bad thing for a barbeque restaurant.

                  Two of us order the beef plate ($9.99). The plate comes with two sides and bread. Both of us chose the baked beans and the rice. One of us order the pulled pork sandwich ($5.99), which comes with a small bag of chips and a small cup of cole slaw. We found all meals to have generous portions. However, we were disappointed with the beef plates. While the beef was tender, it had absolutely no barbeque sauce on it. As a result, it tasted more like it had come from a crock-pot than a barbeque pit/grill. We ended up shoveling the beans over the meat in order to give the meat more flavor (the beans were excellent...but the rice tasted like Rice-a-Roni). As for the pulled pork, the problem was just the opposite. There was too much barbeque sauce on the sandwich, which drowned the taste of the meat.

                  We might give Ruben's another try, in case they were having an off day. But, given the prices and the quality we experienced, we can think of better barbeque in the Fresno vicenity (for example, the weekend grill on the corner of Grangeville and Highway 41 just northwest of Lemoore).

                2. I finally stopped off at Ruben's today for some take-home BBQ. Here are updates:

                  -They're now open daily 11-7 according to a menu flyer.
                  -A dining room should be open Aug 9. Workmen were loading electrical cords and a chop saw into the room while I was there.
                  -They accept plastic
                  -There were 3-4 4-top tables in the main aea so there is now some seating in it.
                  -Street parking is available in front.
                  -There's no hiding the place now. "Ruben's Rib Shack" is prominently painted on the side of the building and on the front glass.

                  I enjoyed talked with Ruben, a large, friendly man. I introduced myself and we talked BBQ. An equipment failure had delayed his ribs so none available for the next 2 hrs or so. I asked for a sample of the hot link and the shredded beef brisket.and he obliged.

                  The beef had a nice flavor and great texture, moist and pulled into strings.

                  The hot link was good, with a nice delayed pepper burn in the back of your throat, but I don't recommend eating more than 1/2 of one because the heat blitzes your palate and then alll you taste is heat and the vinegar of the BBQ sauce. The link is served butterflied and grilled, much tastier than simply boiled and broiled in many other BBQ restos.

                  The sauce is a thick, mildly sweet, somewhat piquant sauce near the color of milk chocolate.

                  I also ordered a chicken breast, which was pleasingly large with good flavor but the meat was dry, which disappointed me. I asked Ruben if he was going to brine his chicken and he said he might, I hope he does.

                  I didn't try any sides as I didn't want to make a mooch of myself, although I will next time I'm there.

                  For 2 hot links, 1 lb of brisket and 1 large chicken breat I paid $19.58 incl tax. (I echo a previous poster--order extra sauce!)

                  Overall I liked the food--it's good, basic BBQ. I enjoyed meeting Ruben, and I'll return next time I'm in that neighborhood. I think he's got excellent potential for really good food once he gets his business solidified.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: KenWritez

                    I'm glad most of you had a good experience with Ruben's. I still like the place.

                    There was someone in there before Ruben who was selling the BBQ at unbelievably cheap prices. Well folks, it was too good to be true. They weren't making enough money to meet expenses and they closed after just 60 days. I have a feeling that's what's behind the higher prices they have now.

                    1. re: Blueayez

                      The prices at Ruben's _do_ seem a tad high but I've noticed that BBQ places in general seem to have prices that seem a tad high.

                      The former Allee's Brand (NW corner of Herndon & Cedar) & the former Big Al's stand (SE corner of Herndon & Cedar) kind of fit that perception. Same thing for other places I've visited. It's not that the prices were _too_ high but they did seem to be higher than what you'd pay for a comparable-sized sandwich at someplace like, say, Sam's Deli.

                      I wonder if there's something about BBQ specifically that makes it more expensive. My first guess would be a more expensive cut of meat is used in BBQ than something else like a deli sandwich or a torta.