Favorite

A throwback 

H.B.'s barbecue stands out; the rest, not so much.

H.B.'s Bar B.Q. is not of this century:

· Credit cards, debit cards and checks aren't accepted. It's a cash-only place, a fact that sent two would-be diners back out the door to head somewhere else before the waitress noticed them. (Hello! It's 2017!)

· It's open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. No weekend barbecue for you. Hours 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. might make more sense, as few people take 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. as their lunch hour, and it would be nice to be able to go by and grab some 'cue after getting off work at 5 p.m.

· It's in a residential neighborhood. Guess zoning in 1961 was a little different proposition. But with GPS it's no longer hard to find.

· Though eight menu items include chili, you may or may not get chili. A batch is made on Monday. When it runs out, it runs out, and by 11:55 a.m. last Wednesday, it had run out. Why not make chili every day? Who knows?

· Ribs are available only on Tuesday. Why? Our waitress told us H.B.'s owners worry that they'd get dried out if they sat overnight. But then she told us they almost always sell out of ribs each Tuesday. So ... maybe they'd sell out other days if H.B.'s offered them.

· Best we can tell, H.B.'s has no Facebook page or website. (Hello! It's 2017!)

If the food was fabulous, we probably could get past the quirks. But, it's not, with the exception of the barbecue, which was by far the best thing we tried. Both the beef and pork — served chopped or sliced — were smoky, tender and succulent. A regular sandwich is $4.40, a jumbo $6.20. Add two sides and those move to $7.15 and $9.25. (So those two sides cost you 30 cents more when you get a jumbo sandwich; add that to the "weird" list.)

We like the sauce, too, which is peppery with a bit of vinegar zing. The fried pies ($2.50), which are fried to order, are more than decent. There are nine fillings; we chose apricot, chocolate and coconut, and each was the favorite of one in our party. They come dusted with cinnamon sugar, the crust is light and crisp, and there is ample filling. For only 25 cents more you can get a small cup of vanilla ice cream with your pie.

Otherwise, everything we had ranked between run-of-the-mill and abysmal. The grilled cheese ($3.10) is a slice, maybe two, of pasteurized processed, straight-from-the-plastic cheese griddled on Texas toast, which makes the bread-to-bad-cheese ratio way too high. The patty melt ($4.25) also suffers from the same mis-proportion of patty (an OK, somewhat juicy patty) to huge Texas toast. You could take a decent-sized bite all the way all around the edge of the sandwich without hitting meat.

The side items are all clearly food-service products and mediocre at best — mustard-based potato salad that was Kroger deli-esque; beans that seemed like canned ranch style with barbecue sauce added; boring slaw; and, oddly, one of the sides is shredded cabbage, straight up; and that's what comes on the barbecue sandwiches. Who would pay $2.50 for a cup of cabbage? Not us.

HB's is a small place — eight tables and maybe 40 seats. We got one of the larger tables, and we're glad it took us a while to notice the two dead flies on the windowsill. And the random rusty bolt resting there. H.B.'s Bar B.Q.

6010 Lancaster Road565-1930Quick biteCash only. So hit the ATM before you go.Hours10 a.m. until 5 p.m. weekdays.Other infoNo alcohol.
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