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Bite Me BBQ stakes its claim downtown

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at 12:22 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, July 25, 2012, at 12:57 p.m.

If You Go

Bite Me BBQ

* * 1/2 out of four

Where: 132 N. St. Francis, 316-729-2904

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Closed Sundays.

Type of food: Barbecue

Alcohol: Full bar

Website: http://biteme-bbq.com

Grand opening party: The restaurant will celebrate its official grand opening from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Saturday with a party featuring the local band Rain. The kitchen will serve smoked prime rib dinners until 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. Admission is free.

In the summer of 2011, Bite Me BBQ was a little Goddard restaurant with a reputation for pretty good ’cue.

A year later, it’s a cavernous downtown Wichita restaurant developing a new reputation for pretty good ’cue.

Owner Coleman Lockett (who’s allowed to joyously shout “BITE ME!” every time he answers the phone) relocated his 8-year-old business to 132 N. St. Francis in April. He’ll celebrate his official grand opening with a party on Saturday featuring local band Rain.

So far, the restaurant is drawing good lunch crowds, but like many downtown restaurants, it’s struggling to find evening diners. Recently, Lockett obtained a permit to begin offering live music and has been doing so on weekend evenings. Mead Street Blues plays there at 7 p.m. Friday.

ON THE MENU: Bite Me’s menu features all the barbecue standards, including ribs, brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, hotlinks and sides such as cole slaw, potato salad, corn on the cob and mashed potatoes. It also has a few unexpected offerings, including deep-fried lobster, mountain oysters and chicken fried steak. Bite Me also has a full bar, weekday lunch specials and nightly dinner specials, including burnt ends on Thursdays.

DON’T MISS DISHES: Many of the meats served at Bite Me stand up easily to other favorite barbecue restaurants in town. We maximized our sampling by ordering a three-meat combo, which was $12.99 and came with the choice of two sides. The best part about the plate was the juicy, succulent and thick-cut smoked turkey — the exact stuff my Thanksgiving dreams are made of. The hotlink also was deliciously spicy and bursting with smoky, meaty flavor. Two disappointing parts of the meal were the sliced brisket, which was displeasingly dry, and the corn on the cob we chose as a side, which had been corn way too long and was emaciated. But the sweet potato fries were as they should be — crunchy on the outside, squishy on the inside and not the least bit greasy. (We did, however, decline the powdered sugar our waitress offered to sprinkle on them.)

We also ordered the rib dinner, which featured three giant ribs and two sides for $10.99. (A half slab is available for $9.75, or a full slab is $19, but neither come with sides.) The ribs were served dry fall-off-the-bone tender with a nice salty/smoky rub. The flavor was so good, sauce wasn’t necessary, which for me was a good thing. I may be in the minority, but I prefer my barbecue sauce more vinegar-y than sweet. Both of Bite Me’s sauces — a spicy version and a “wimpy” version provided in bottles on the table — are super sweet. Lockett said he’s had requests from several diners for the “Carolina”-style sauce I crave and is something he’s considering for the future.

The pulled pork in the pulled pork sandwich ($8.49) had an unusual flavor and was somewhat dry, but it was served on a buttery toasted ciabatta bun, which was a nice touch. We also ordered BBQ nachos ($6.99) as an appetizer and couldn’t stop eating them. They were a messy affair and came in a basket piled with pulled pork, chopped brisket, barbecue sauce, nacho cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and jalapenos. In this case, the sweetness of the sauce played nicely off the saltiness of the chips and cheese.

We also opted to sample the deep-fried lobster as an appetizer. At $14.99, it was the most expensive thing we ordered, but we can’t strongly recommend it. The bits of lobster came in a batter that tasted slightly of the Kansas State Fair and came with a big bowl of melted butter on the side. (Some sort of zesty Ranch or remoulade would have been better.) The bites weren’t bad, but they weren’t really worth the price tag.

AMBIANCE: The dining room is huge and has shiny concrete floors, booths along the walls and tables situated around a U-shaped bar. The space smells of new construction and smoked meat — not a bad combination.

PRICE RANGE: Dinners mostly are $10.99, unless you opt for a deep-fried lobster dinner, which is $19.99. Sandwiches are $8.49 to $9.49. Salads are $9.49. A la carte sides are $1.99 each.

SERVICE: Our server was friendly and eager but not very well-informed about the day’s drink and food specials.

Ratings reflect the critic’s judgment of the food, service and atmosphere in relation to the price. If you would like to nominate a restaurant to be reviewed, call 316-268-6327. Find additional Wichita-area restaurant reviews at Kansas.com/dining.

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