When the Visit Bend crew has the divine pleasure of dining at local restaurants, we fill out review forms. It’s a great way to capture everyone’s input, but I couldn’t help but notice the forms from our recent visit to Baldy’s Barbecue captured a little something extra – barbecue sauce. Oodles of it. It’s smeared on every page, along with a few distinct tongue-shaped marks I suspect are the result of diners not wanting to miss even a drop of tasty goodness.
Baldy’s Barbecue has been a fixture on Bend’s westside since 2005, though they’ve since expanded to an eastside location and a new spot in Redmond.
The fare is everything you’d expect from a barbecue joint, with a lot of little extras thrown in to shake up your taste buds and make sure you know you’re getting something special.
Take the appetizers, for example. Baldy’s offers standard hot wings prepared to perfection with their scrumptious homemade sauce, but for those who want to deviate from fried wings, they also offer smoked ones. They’re spice-rubbed and served hot out of the smoker, tossed with either original or Cat’s Meow sauce.
Baldy made the grave tactical error of setting both platters at my end of the table. I sampled the fried wings. Then I sampled the smoked wings. Then I sampled the fried wings. Then I sampled the smoked wings. When my dining companions suggested that they, too, would like to sample the wings, I snarled and bit someone on the arm. Then I grabbed both plates and jumped on an adjacent table and screamed, “you’ll have to kill me first!”
OK, maybe I didn’t do that. I wanted to.
Another great surprise was the fried okra. It’s something I’ve seen on the menu countless times, but never got around to ordering. When Baldy first brought it out, I thought it was mini calamari. Then I took a bite. And another. And another. These things are addictive, with the perfect texture combination of squishy and crunchy and a nice little dollop of ranch to add some zing. I’ll definitely be ordering fried okra again.
Then the entrees started rolling out. Baby Back ribs. Pulled Pork. Beef Brisket. AuGratin Potatoes. It was like a parade of deliciousness making laps around our table. I gave up taking notes and just devoured everything. The sauces were divine, the meats so tender I considered not even chewing (which was partly the result of my desire to eat as fast as I could so I’d get more than my share).
There was plenty to go around though, which is another thing to love about Baldy’s – the portions are huge. Be sure to save room for desert though, since the southern bread pudding with a cracked caramel crust is worth loosening the top button on your pants.
It’s also worth pointing out that vegetarians won’t feel out of place at Baldy’s. Our resident non-meat-eater devoured the okra, the salads, the potatoes, the beans, and was feeling pretty stuffed when Baldy brought out a spicy black bean burger topped with fresh, grilled veggies. Suffice it to say, no one went home hungry.
If you’re looking for cozy, casual barbecue fare, look no further than Baldy’s. Just don’t look closely at any of your fellow diners. Their faces will be smeared with sauce and they’ll be wearing identical, goofy, satisfied grins.