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May 24, 2009 08:49 AM

United BBQ - Providence

Stopped into United BBQ on Ives St last night, and I have to say I was VERY pleasantly surprised. When I'd been before, shortly after they opened, the meat had been too dry and not flavorful enough, and the sides has been so-so. Well, I think they've worked some kinks out, because my meal last night was really very good--definitely the best 'cue I've had in Providence (though that's not saying much).

I grabbed a pulled pork sandwich and subbed a side of collards instead of their house made potato chips for an extra $1. The pork was excellent. Nice, thoroughly smoky flavor, pulled roughly into toothsome chunks, lots of pink smoke ring and flavorful bark in there, and fairly moist. My only real complaint on the meat is that I don't love the tomato-based sauce they use, but it's very lightly sauced and they were happy to provide a bit of vinegar on the side (I prefer NC-style, and dabbing a bit on really helped).

The roll it's served on is pretty good, though a bit too large (just too much bread). The slaw was serviceable and simple. The collards were actually VERY good, with a deep and mild flavor, plus plenty of bits of pork in there. Last note, the place is very reasonably priced -- all that for $7 seemed like a good deal to me.

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  1. A delicious experience all around!

    1. The Providence Phoenix very favorably reviewed this place a few weeks ago. As vegetarians, we never go to bbq restaurants, but this one is surprisingly veggie friendly. We look forward to trying it.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Joltingjoey

        Just as an aside: never believe a word you read in a Providence Phoenix restaurant review. In the past five years I don't think I've ever read a negative reviews from the Rodriguezes. It's insane. In fact, just to make sure, I went and looked at all the recent reviews on the Phoenix website, not one critical one. And how odd is it that a couple are the two restaurant reviewers? It's clearly a ploy for them to eat out on the paper every week.

        1. re: celeriac

          The Phoenix, being a free alternative newspaper (and a very good one IMHO), survives entirely on advertising, and it wouldn't do to totally trash a restaurant. So they simply do not review crappy places. And why do you think it's odd that a couple does most of their reviews?

      2. I completely agree with you about the pork. It was very tender and tasty but not enough sauce. The beef rib was also delish and so large I felt like Wilma Flintstone. We sampled a bunch of their sides and found the mac and cheese to be tasty and the baked beans flavorful but the tamales were forgettable and the collard greens we had were bland and slightly soapy tasting. The collard greens at LJs are far superior. In fact, I think the collards at LJs are the best I have had, anywhere. It is great that United has veggie options, I plan to try the veggie chili when the weather gets cooler.

        1. Stopped by over the weekend and was blown away by the meat quality and prices. One of the best deals in Providence is $12.99 for a combination plate of any 2 meats you want (i got pork & beef ribs), 2 sides, and corn bread. The plate had to contain 3lbs of food. My only complaint is the sauce, not a fan at all....contained a weird spice I cannot put my finger on; I prefer a sweeter sauce. Next time I will get take-out and add my own sauce at home. By far the best BBQ in Rhode Island.

          5 Replies
          1. re: joe777cool

            I stopped once with my wife and found the food dry, all smoke no taste. It isnt bad but the use of a Southern Pride Smoker uses fans to blow the smoke around too much resin IMHO

            1. re: Frank Terranova

              I totally agree Frank! As a true Southerner, I love, love, love good BBQ. While I go to United out of sheer laziness (its walking distance), I am a much bigger fan of Rick's Roadhouse. At United I've had the pulled pork and both times the sauce was way too tomato-y and had no zing. The mac and cheese is alright, but the greens? absolutely awful. They are bland, I had to douse them in hot sauce to be edible.

              1. re: poohstix12

                Thanks for agreeing with me. I am a corporate chef for a major smoker company plus I an a certified bbq judge so I have some training in this stuff and did compete in the american royal open in KC too bad RI thinks bbq is dry smoked filled food and mac and cheese

                1. re: Frank Terranova

                  The one time I went the fodd was neither dry nor overly smokey. frank - is it not true that bbq is not something you can completely 100% of the time replicate night after night especially when you are mass producing the food and holding it for several hours at a time? Maybe the meats were sitting longer when you had them? And mac and cheese IS bbq anywhere on the east coast, although it seems to be more of a souther comfort food/side, it just seems to be synonymous with bbq at this point. As far as Ricks goes, the first few times I went there i liked it alot but the last few have been hit and miss.....rather inconsistent in terms of food (not just bbq) and service. Very good chili however. I still put United first with Ricks a close second and LJ's a distant 3rd (nothing remarkable about the food at LJ's and the most expensive of the 3 IMHO). That having been said there is NO bbq is RI that seems to have it all together smoke/rub/sauce/sides.....but I will continue my search!!! As an aside, in my previous post I said I was "blown away" by United.....I may have slightly overstated my opinion; possibly a bit to giddy over finding a deecent bbq joint in I said its the best bbq in RI, but I have still had much better at other places in the country.

                  1. re: joe777cool

                    I am not picking on the mac and cheese its not bbq, high school kids make mac and cheese. If you get to any other states try Famous Daves in NY or Bad Brads in the Oaklahoma Panhandle I have not tried Ricks nor prob. not I make my own and if you can do the same try some day to purchase a piece of beef called a gooseneck its part of the leg of the cow usually a half piece is about 18 pounds, season it well and let it smoke for about 20 hours WOW you will flip.

                    Enjoy :)

                    Famous Dave's
                    1750 Boston Rd, Springfield, MA 01129

            1. re: bewley

              I forgot all about them in Newport. Have not been there but friends had it at their house and it wasnt bad. Good for Becky's...........