Whether it’s the barbecue, the bull or the birthday meal, Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ seems to round up something for everyone.
Developed and owned by Roger Sharp (who also launched nearby Good Ol’ Burgers and Tortilla Town), the Paso Robles restaurant is the flagship location for Big Bubba’s, which has three other locations in Atascadero, Merced and Visalia. As you might guess from the rustic lodge pole exterior, the inside of Big Bubba’s is a rousing saloon-ish tribute to the Old West, albeit with a family-friendly atmosphere, a current country western soundtrack, and televisions tuned to the big game.
“That’s all part of Roger’s vision,” explained Curtis Volk, general manager of the Paso location and a 25-year-veteran of the industry, including several years at both the Black Angus Steakhouse and Islands Restaurant operations. “From the buffalo head on the wall, to the mechanical bull, to the music — Roger believes that every adult has a kid inside and they should be able to come here and enjoy themselves.”
Indeed, it’s hard not to get a kick out of servers dressed in Jersey cow print shirts, and where else can you eat your meal inside a mock jail cell? However, Big Bubba’s doesn’t joke around when it comes to its food, and its brand of barbecue is the real deal — low and slow with smoke.
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“We use a combination of red and white oak,” said Volk, “and all our meats arrive fresh, never frozen.”
The signature items at Big Bubba’s are definitely the beef ribs, pork spare ribs, and baby backs that are seasoned, smoked and slathered with tangy sauce. The hearty slabs not only come with a thick slice of grilled garlicky Texas Toast, but also with your choice of two sides ranging from baked potato to ranch beans, mac ‘n’ cheese to fries, green salad to veggies, cole slaw to housemade potato chips known as “Texas Tators,” and fresh roasted corn-on-the-cob when it’s in season.
Other oak-smoked entrées include a 10-ounce tri-tip and half a roasted chicken, or the popular “Bubba’s Combo” with two beef ribs, two pork ribs and a quarter of a chicken. Burgers are an option, as are sandwiches; choose from the just-spicy-enough chipotle chicken, the beef brisket on a freshly baked steak roll, or the pulled pork that’s smoked overnight.
Big Bubba’s offers a herd of other items as well: salads such as the tri-tip with Bloody Mary dressing or the “Crazy Cranberry” with grilled chicken and raspberry vinaigrette, appetizers like a tower of onion rings or Buffalo wings, and desserts that include a root beer float and a warm “Brownie Bonanza” topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
Volk noted that there are a few new twists to the Big Bubba’s menu that have just been unveiled, or are in the works. Among them: mini sandwiches akin to sliders, family-style dinners with plates of ribs and chicken served with Texas Toast and bowls of sides, and “Grub in a Glass,” which are smaller versions of some of the appetizers, served in margarita glasses and meant to share.
Don’t expect any changes to the core of the Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ concept, however. “We realize we’re a destination spot for people, and we’re going to give them what they expect,” Volk said. “Though we’re always trying to do things better, this team here amazes me.”