I live not far from the original Limp Lizard in Western Lights but I’ve never once tried the place. There’s nothing in particular that kept me away, as I smell some amazing BBQ every time I stop at my bank, which is next door. I felt like it was time to give it a shot but as it turned out the place was slammed when I got there. They must be doing something right. Anyway we decided to head to the newest location in Liverpool. Here’s how it went.
It seems that there’s plenty going on in Liverpool. The main section where you find The Retreat, Freedom of Espresso, Cobble Stone, and other places all in a few blocks really offers a ton of options. The newest spot is the White Water Pub, which I’ve been eying for some time. Anyway let’s get back to the Liverpool’s Limp Lizard. The interior has a well worn feel and rightfully so since the building is quite old, formerly housing Mother’s. Music plays loudly over the speakers and TVs flash with various sports. Encircling a main level dining room is a step up area with more tables. It’s a comfortable in the sense that it’s broken-in, a common feel of BBQ joints (see Dinosaur BBQ). However you describe it, the interior builds the expectation of real American BBQ.
I probably should’ve ordered the “Kick Butt Carolina Pulled Pork” like any other reviewer at a BBQ place, but the prime rib French dip was a bigger temptation. That’s what I picked. Also, since I haven’t had them in years I ordered jalapeno poppers. I’m going to leave them out since poppers are the same no matter where you go, which is to say delicious (call it a guilty pleasure). Anyway–much like the Dinosaur BBQ–entrees come with two sides. Offer me homemade side dishes, and you’re already halfway to being Guru Approved. You’re looking at items like jalapeno corn bread, Hellfire chili, mac n’ cheese, collard greens and more. You can also get basics like fries but with so many delicious sounding specialty sides, why bother? I went with mac n’ cheese and (since you can’t find ‘em anywhere else) sauteed collard greens. I was excited for the platter to arrive.
While I snacked on some cheesy jalapeno poppers, I started thinking about Syracuse’s relationship with barbecue. While I love the Dinosaur BBQ, it has become the default for most rib or pulled pork-craving locals and visitors. While the regional success of the Dino is a great Syracuse-based story, sometimes it seems hard to find another option. Under the Dino’s shadow the Limp Lizard has quickly expanded to three locations and seems to have many devotees. So yes, there is another choice. Back to the food.
The food arrived on a tinfoil covered plate. A reasonably sized sandwich piled high with prime rib and melted cheese flanked by a cup of au jus, mac n’ cheese topped with spices, and a bowl of meaty collard greens made up the platter. I snapped a picture for Guru Instagram (@syracuseguru), which you can see on the sidebar or after the link.
The first thing I noticed is the manageable serving size, which I definitely didn’t expect. Most of my Dino visits result in a half-eaten plate, but at Limp Lizard you get the perfect amount. I started with the mac. Taking a bite of the visibly spiced mac and cheese resulted in much less flavor than I expected. It was also a bit on the cool side. You get a somewhat flat cheesy flavor, but not the sharpness that you hope for. It wasn’t bad and the subtle flavor grew on me somewhat as I continued eating. I recommend trying a different side. Next I tried a forkful of collard greens. The strong, meaty, and tasty stewed flavor was great and the texture of the greens was perfect. My only complaint is that there is a little too much pork in them. I know collard greens have a meat element but these overdid it for me. Still, I really enjoyed them.
Next I started on the prime rib French dip. Taking a quick bite of the prime rib revealed a perfect tenderness. A well-balanced mix of salt, umami, and a vague sweetness made it delicious. After cutting it in half I got after it, soaking up a little au jus with each bite. I was really shocked at the deliciousness of Limp Lizard’s French dip sandwich. Not too much cheese and not too salty, it’s a sandwich I plan on going back for very soon. There are really no flaws to find with this item. Fork-tender beef and cheese on a fresh roll with au jus is hard to beat and Limp Lizard does it 100% right! Excellent.
I’m looking forward to heading back for the Kick Butt Carolina Pulled Pork but for now I’m going with:
The Limp Lizard
201 First Street, Liverpool (Directions)
Sunday – Thursday: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
Friday & Saturday: 11:00 am – 2:00 a.m.
© 2012, Syracuse Guru. All rights reserved.