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May 12, 2009 08:04 AM

Blue Ox BBQ - Lake Orion, MI

Had the distinct pleasure of trying a pulled pork sandwich at the Blue Ox BBQ in Lake Orion, MI and it was as good, or better, than many such sandwiches I've eaten in my southern travels. Can't vouch for the sides cause I didn't try any, but if they live up to the pulled pork, they will be great.

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  1. So new their website is still sparse of info. Thanks for the alert, Wakeley B.

    2 Replies
    1. re: RedTop

      It had enough to inform me of the fact that their pulled pork sandwich is only $5, *far* better/more affordable to me than the $8+ one I had last week at Kirk's. I'll be trying this place's sandwich soon based on the price and the recommendation of WB, soon.

      1. re: boagman

        I guess I had a Homer moment when I viewed the website the first time. Didn't scroll on the menu screen.

    2. I've now visited the Blue Ox BBQ 3 separate occassions and had every type of sandwich they offer. Each was very good insuring that this place is on my permanent restaurant rotation.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Wakeley Bridge

        I can't wait to try this ASAP. I haven't found a barbeque place since leaving Colorado two years ago, and Blue Ox is closer to me than Lazybones or Slows. I may have to go tomorrow with the whole family!

        1. re: kellycolorado

          I don't want to overinflate your expectations, but one of the owners apparently *hails* from Colorado, and won several awards there for the BBQ establishment(s?) he had while there.

          As well, I've been there subsequently, and tried the prime rib sandwich, which I also very much enjoyed. They've told me that I *really* need to try the brisket, which I still haven't yet. It's on the list, for sure.

          1. re: boagman

            Well, if it's even halfway decent that will be a big improvement from what I've found in a 15 mile radius. (Can you say Famous Dave's? *shudder*)

            Fritter, perhaps they should change their website from " says..." to "prolific member says..." which would then be the truth. That IS kind of irritating IMHO.

            1. re: kellycolorado

              Yes I agree. I hope I'm not sounding like I'm bagging on boagman because that's not the case. I just disagree with the statement they are using which smacks of false advertising and seems totally un-necessary. They could even say they got a great review from a well respected CH and it would be the truth.
              In the meantime I'm sure you will find them better than Famous Daves liquid smoke BBQ-Gack.

      2. Well since my daughter has the day off from school...

        BTW did you see on their website they linked to Boagman's post...

        1 Reply
        1. re: JanPrimus

          BTW what equipment are they missing for not being able to make potato salad?

          The Burner for boiling the potato's?

          That just struck me as odd.

        2. Well I popped on out for lunch....

          Got the three meat special (Pork, Turkey and Brisket)

          For Sides I got the Slaw and Beans.

          The meats are smoked a bit less aggressively than Lazybones. I know some think that LB is a bit to smoky so that is not a bad thing for everyone. I also noticed the smoke ring was a bit more shallow than LB's. Like I said this is personal preference for people.

          As for moisture..I thought it was a bit too wet. I love the burnt sweet caramelized edges that the bark of a meat can provide. I got none of that from the pork. I did not expect that much from the turkey or brisket. I also had quite a bit of fat...but I like the fat so it was OK by me. The taste was very good though. I am pretty much just nit picking here.

          The slaw was just as Boagman said...

          Now the beans I did not dig into until I got back to my place and regretted that at first bite. If I did not live so far from the place I would have driven right back and demanded he give me every cooked bean in the place. I am absolutely head over heels in love with those beans.

          The sauces were very good too. I see what Boagman said in the other thread about the Hot not being the best match for the pork...It does work well with the Turkey.

          Overall I was very pleased...I just like my pork to have some krispy bits of love and I love a deeply penetrated smoke ring and a heavy smoke flavor.

          Also I did see Boagman's post printed out and taped up for all to read. :)

          9 Replies
          1. re: JanPrimus

            " I also noticed the smoke ring was a bit more shallow than LB's. Like I said this is personal preference for people.
            As for moisture..I thought it was a bit too wet. I love the burnt sweet caramelized edges that the bark of a meat can provide. I got none of that from the pork. "

            I'm not saying this is either good or bad. It just is what it is. They are not using a traditional smokehouse but rather a unit that cooks with gas and uses a convection fan. These units can use wood or charcoal for flavor or cook just with gas and some can steam as well. The unit allows them to cook in a fraction of the the normal time for true smoked meat. It's not my favorite but as you say those who prefer a lighter smoke will favor this sort of Q. This does not bear any resemblance to most Texas BBQ which is frequently done in open "pits". I've seen a lot of this type of BBQ in TN and KY where they seem to favor the chopped pig Vs pulled.

            1. re: Fritter

              It's so easy to see why people battle over Q styles and methods. I do not think he was doing anything wrong, just not 100% in line with my personal taste (Which very few places I think ever would). I do know a few people that would be right at home at this place and I will be pushing them in that direction for one of our 100 Mile Q's.

              1. re: JanPrimus

                "I do not think he was doing anything wrong, just not 100% in line with my personal tastes"

                I wasn't suggesting they were doing any thing "wrong" in the post you responded to. That's why I posted that their cook method IMO is neither "good or bad" . It's just is what it is and it's not Texas style.
                As you recently mentioned both Slows and Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor have been voted two of the best BBQ joints in the country so at least we finally have some "Q" options in an area that was sorely deprived for many years.


                1. re: Fritter

                  Yes, Famous Dave's was a liquid smoke/msg nightmare. I'd never heard of it and didn't know it was a big chain either. We were trying to make some new MI friends at the time and they picked the restaurant. I should've known.

                  Anyways, this MI native found the Blue Ox to be excellent and will definitely fulfill my bbq cravings that I acquired living in Colorado. It will be my go-to BBQ place, probably carryout since I have two active little ones. The have a nicely priced Family Pack with (I believe) two pounds of meat and sides which I'll be getting on my next visit.

                      1. re: Fritter

                        I got the pulled pork and brisket with cole slaw and okra. I had my husband get the chicken and he wanted the pulled pork again with beans and corn (which was for my daughter) and a side of fries to appease the kids. There was enough meat for all four of us. To me the brisket was the standout, plus the okra, beans and cole slaw. The slaw is light on the dressing and it's not a mayonnaise base, but that's my preference so it was perfect. I loved the fried okra which is not something I have often and the beans were tasty. I really enjoyed the chicken too, more than I expected. Plus my preschooler was crazy about it. I'm not such a pork girl (except for bacon) but it was nice, just a little "porky" for my tastes vs. smoky. We all devoured our food and I got a pint of hot sauce to go. The sweet and unsweet iced tea was a bonus because I like it lightly sweetened. Two thumbs up.

                        1. re: kellycolorado

                          I'll have to try the brisket and beans next time.

                          1. re: Fritter

                            Had to bump this thread because I was able to stop by this week and get myself a brisket sandwich for brunch, about 1/2 hour before they opened. The owner recognized me standing outside, and invited me in.

                            Great sandwich. This time, I would say that the hot BBQ sauce was the better match with the beef. Very, very good. I got my brisket absolutely fresh out of the smoker, and it was just wonderful that way. I'd order it again. That makes them three-for-three with the sandwiches that I've ordered so far...that's a heckuva good track record, especially with me. I've had the pork, the prime rib, and the brisket sandwiches, and all were great.

                            Unfortunately, due to the early hour, only the pulled pork and brisket were available to me...nothing else, meaning no sides. This means that I wasn't able to get any of those oh-so-delicious baked beans they serve, and that was disappointing, but hey: I was being served before opening hours. Can't complain about that!

                            Still love this place. Wish I got up that way more often. Having talked with the owner a bit, they're apparently catching on in the area and are doing well, especially with catering. Nice to know a great place like this is going to be around for a while.

            2. I had lunch today at Blue Ox. Great aroma when you enter and the smoker is in plain sight. I had the prime rib sandwich with a snack sampler of brisket and pulled pork with a side of beans. All three meats were juicy and tender but the smoke texture and aroma were just short of my preference. There were a lot of take-away orders while I had my food so there are clearly supporters. As previoulsy mentioned the beans were excellent and definitely had the best molasses/smoke balance of all the food I had. An interesting dilemma: reasonable bbq that is available(Ox) or better bbq with lots of hassle (Slows).?

              2 Replies
                1. re: goatgolfer

                  Thank you for the tip on Blue Ox! Very, very good and consistent food---a “savor in your mouth,” not “sock you in the mouth.” I ordered the dinner for four (three meats and three sides), for $27.95, choosing brisket, (pulled) pork and ribs, with potato salad, beans and coleslaw. All the dishes were delicately flavored, presumably because the Blue Ox isn’t afraid to let its customers taste the main ingredient; whereas, most other places hide their incompetence with, say, singed fat and cayenne/molasses. One could ALMOST eat at Blue Ox without obliterating a diet (meant to be a compliment).
                  The potato salad simply was fresh potatoes seemingly dressed only with a little yellow mustard, diced pickles/juice, and pureed potato (maybe mayo, too?). It looked like Kroger’s, but tasted expertly homemade. The coleslaw seemed to just be fresh cut cabbage, sugar and salt…which was much better than it may sound. The ribs were easily the equal of my favorites at Lazybones. The brisket (which curiously had been diced) may have even been better than Lazybones. The pork butt roast behind the glass was enormous and gorgeous (if you’ll excuse the expression), but seemed to have been braised (?) after smoking which made it a little too wet and mushy for my liking. The beans were only a slight cut above standard BBQ fare, as best I could discern….which, granted, still translates as “a must have.” Blue Ox also provides the obligatory thick cut Wonder bread (served with a squirt of imitation popcorn butter). While I appreciated the humor, I nevertheless left it with the cashier.
                  Again, I view the ribs and brisket to be some of the best around, and nearly in the same league as a Kansas City Arthur Bryant's or a Gates. And, the deconstructed potato salad and coleslaw were nice surprises. Can’t wait to make the long drive back, to try Blue Ox’s smoked prime rib and fowl.