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Papa Bear's BBQ

Update 11/3/2014: Papa Bear's is closing.

In a word: Good stuff at the right price.

The specs: #0470  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Madison Magazine, Yelp, Isthmus, 43North89WestEat Drink Madison listing; official web site, Papa Bear's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Latest Papa Bear's BBQ news and reviews at del.icio.us

Latest Papa Bear's BBQ news and reviews

JM ate the ribs with potatoes and coleslaw and a lemonade.
Kristine ate the BBQ pork sandwich.
Kyle ate the rib tips and sausage combo with home fries and an Orange Crush.
Nichole ate the smoked chicken with corn and beans and a diet Pepsi.
We split some peach cobbler.
The bill was about $35, or $8.75/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Papa Bear's BBQ an A-; Kyle gave Papa Bear's BBQ a B+; Kristine gave Papa Bear's BBQ a B- (see our grading rubric).

Papa Bear's BBQ stepped in where Bull's feared to tread. (Maybe it's a sign of the status of the market.) For a BBQ fix, you can't really go wrong here, though Bull's cheesy potatoes will be forever missed.

The smoked chicken was very good and firm and moist. The ribs? Like candy. Candy! Made from meat!

The corn-on-the-cob was big and slightly leathery in that not-unpleasant State Fair way. The coleslaw was peppery, the biscuit just fine. The home fries were acceptable filler, especially good for sopping up extra sauce, which is as plentiful as any good BBQ joints should be.

Ribs and chicken

Pulled pork sandwich

Kristine's sandwich featured pork that was sliced and not pulled, which gave the amply sauced meat a slippery feel that wasn't entirely pleasant.

Kyle scored what seemed to be the best of all possible worlds in a rib tip and sausage combo, despite the fact that he was one biscuit short of a full meal. The rib tips "walked the fine line between chewy and tender" though the ubiquitous cartilage bits presented a logistical challenge.

Anyone who tried the hot link agreed it was probably the best item of all. The portion was generous - bigger than a brat - the meat was fine-ground and not too fatty, the casing had a nice snap, and flavor balanced the heat well.

The peach cobbler used spices more commonly found with apples, but was OK.

Rib tips and sausage

Kyle and Kristine observed improvement from their first visit, always a good sign. And we'd come back again anytime.


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Thanks for the link back! I look forward to delving further into their menu again soon.

My last visit, for a BBQ corn beef brisket sandwich: 'A' material, all the way--up to and including the charmingly incorrect verbage [sic, see above] on the menu board.

Papa Bear's website is beyond hibernating; I think it has gone extinct.

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Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

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