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If there's one thing that folks in small towns all across this state know, it's barbecue. Like politics and religion, just about everybody's got an opinion on the stuff, from what meat to use and how long to cook it to the type of wood used for smoking — and there's the never-ending debate about whether to sauce while cooking or afterward. But since Labor Day weekend just wouldn't be right without some smoked meat, we decided to head down to one of our favorite small town barbecue places, Ron's Barbecue in Glenwood. The food at Ron's is prepared simply, with a nice smoky flavor that doesn't overwhelm the tender, juicy meat. Ron's is a "sauce-on-the-side" place, and what a sauce it is: spicy, tangy, and thick enough to coat the barbecue while still thin enough to get into every nook and cranny for a taste in every bite.
It's hard to pick one thing at Ron's as a favorite, but the sliced brisket comes close. The beef is sliced thick, and it's so tender that the first bite almost feels like it would melt in your mouth. Ron's trims their brisket well, too, with hardly any fat present on the slices — and that's a pretty important thing for me, having been burned by too many places that charge by the pound and sell fatty meat. A sandwich built with this brisket, Ron's sauce, and a healthy spoonful of their excellent cole slaw is, for me, one of life's great joys.
Ron's smoked turkey runs a close second to the brisket as a favorite, and that's coming from somebody who isn't all that wild about turkey in the first place. This is turkey done right, though, well-smoked and moist with a rich flavor to the meat that I didn't think anyone could coax from a turkey breast. I've eaten a lot of this bird over the years from oven-roasted to deep-fried, but this smoked version is one of the best ways I've ever eaten. I'm sure there are all kinds of good sandwiches that could be made with this turkey, but I admit that I just ate mine with my fingers straight from the plate.
Pork lovers are in luck at Ron's, too, because the place can smoke a mean pork shoulder. Like everything else we tried, the meat is tender and still juicy even after the slow cooking it receives. Once again, the meat is all meat, with the extraneous fat trimmed off before it gets to the table. I still think the brisket wins out over the pork, but that's just because the brisket is so well-made — this pork is well worth dousing with sauce and putting in your mouth. Having all three of these meats on one platter made for quite a scene at supper, with several of our football watching crew sneaking over during commercial breaks to snitch another bite or two even after we had all eaten a huge sandwich. Good barbecue is addicting, and this is some of the best.
Ron's Barbecue just recently moved from Caddo Gap, and they're now located at 327 Highway 70 East in Glenwood. They're open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m - 8 p.m. and from 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Follow them on Facebook for updates and specials like prime rib.