A closer look at Famous Dave’s BBQ restaurants

With almost 200 locations in 36 states, Famous Dave’s BBQ restaurant is one of our nation’s largest BBQ franchises. Famous Dave’s offers everything from their award winning BBQ ribs to sandwiches, seafood, chicken, burgers, wings, soups, sides, desserts and more. I’ll dive into Dave’s menu in more detail later in this article.

Who is Famous Dave?

Dave Anderson, founder of Famous Dave’s, grew up in Chicago where his passion for BBQ began as a young boy. His dad would get the best tasting slow-smoked spareribs from street corner vendors who used 55 gallon smokers filled with charcoal and smoldering green hickory wood. Realizing his dream of one day opening his own barbecue restaurant, Dave traveled around the United States in search of great BBQ at every barbecue joint he could find. Literally thousands over a 25 year period.

After more than 25 years and many all-night cooking and tasting sessions, with thousands of batches of sauces, he finally developed and perfected the best barbecue sauce his friends and family had ever tasted.

In 1994, while continuing to call Minneapolis home, Dave purchased a small resort on Big Round Lake in Hayward, Wisconsin. The resort, with eight cabins, had a restaurant and bar that Dave envisioned as the possible fulfillment of his life’s dream — a barbeque restaurant. From the beginning, the restaurant, named “Famous Dave’s BBQ Shack,” was a tremendous success — serving as many as 1,000 in a night.

Dave then brought a BBQ Shack to Minneapolis and was a huge hit like Hayward. Once again, one guest after another began asking Dave when a Shack might come to their neighborhood. These requests, over weeks and months, came to fuel a dream of a Famous Dave’s expansion across America!

Awards

In November 1995, Famous Dave’s was named 1st place winner for its Rich & Sassy BBQ sauce at the American Royal Barbecue Sauce Contest in Kansas City, Missouri—the largest and most prestigious barbecue contest in the world! Mpls./St.Paul Magazine followed in December by naming Famous Dave’s the Best BBQ Joint. Since then, Famous Dave’s has won one award after another including Greatest Ribs in America, Greatest Sauce in America, Best New Restaurant, Best Dessert, and Dave himself was named “Restaurateur of the Year”. At the 1999 Great American Rib Cook-off, where several hundred thousands of people attend to eat great ribs, Dave and his team won another Greatest Ribs in America award!

Famous Dave’s Menu

I think it’s only fitting to begin with Famous Dave’s appetizers on his extensive menu. Dave has a nice variety of starters to get your taste buds going. Dave’s Sampler Platter includes spareribs, fried chicken tenders, catfish fingers, onion strings and your choice of Buffalo or BBQ chicken wings. Both of his Chicken Tenders and Sweetwater Catfish fingers are served with their Sweet Soul Jalapeño dipping sauce although the catfish also comes with rémoulade. Rib tips are hickory-smoked tips served on a bed of Famous Fries. What would an appetizer section be without wings? You can order them either Buffalo style or BBQ (12 or 24 piece). For a lighter appetizer, you might consider Dave’s Onion Strings — also served with rémoulade dipping sauce.

The highlight of Dave’s menu in my opinion is his award-winning BBQ ribs. You can order them in three different sizes: Regular Ribs (4 bones), Half Slab (6 bones) and his XXL “The Big Slab” (12 bones). Moving down the menu, you will find Georgia Chopped Pork, BBQ (half) Chicken, Texas Beef Brisket, Rib Tips, BBQ or Buffalo Chicken Wings, Chicken Tenders, Country Roasted Chicken and BBQ Stuffed Potato which sounds interesting. All of Dave’s Barbeque Classics are served with a corn bread muffin, corn-on-the-cob, and your choice of two sides (we’ll get to the sides later).

One of the best features of any BBQ restaurant’s menu is the option to order combination platters and Famous Dave’s is no exception. You can order the Two-Meat BBQ Combo or the St. Louis Rib-N-Meat BBQ Combo. The meat selection are as follows: Beef brisket, chopped pork, barbeque or roasted chicken, rib tips, chicken tenders, hot link sausage, sweetwater catfish or wings. If you are too hungry for a combo or if you have a group of people in your party, consider ordering Dave’s Famous Feast which includes a full slab of St. Louis-style spareribs, a whole chicken, 1/2 lb. of either Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork, coleslaw, Famous Fries, Wilbur Beans, four corn-on-the-cob, and four corn bread muffins.

Dave’s Real Que Sandwiches are served with a side of your choice and spicy Hell-Fire Pickles. In addition, you can also order your sandwich “Memphis-style” and they’ll top your ‘que sandwich with creamy coleslaw. Famous Dave’s offers the Georgia Chopped Pork Sandwich, Texas Beef Brisket Sandwich, Barbeque Chicken Sandwich and their signature Texas Manhandler. Dave’s Texas Manhandler sandwich is real Texas beef brisket and zesty hot link sausage, sliced thin, piled high, and crowned with Hell-Fire Pickles.

You can even get delicious fish and char-grilled burgers at Famous Dave’s. Here’s what he’s got to offer: Sweet and Sassy Grilled Salmon which is basted with a pineapple BBQ glaze and the lightly breaded Sweetwater Catfish. Dave’s char-grilled burgers include three signature burgers along with the all-American burger and cheeseburgers. Dave’s Favorite Burger includes melted Jack cheese, smoked bacon and Dave’s favorite sauce – Rich & Sassy. The Devil’s Spit Burger is slathered with Devil’s Spit BBQ sauce and topped with melted pepper-Jack cheese, jalapeño bacon and Hell-Fire pickles. Talk about a burger with a kick! Dave’s Ultimate BBQ Burger is a juicy ground beef patty beneath a pile of Georgia chopped pork with two strips of jalapeño bacon, melted Cheddar cheese, and his signature Beam & Cola BBQ sauce.

Watching your waistline? You might consider ordering an entree salad. Dave has a few for you to choose from: The Smoked Salmon Caesar Salad, Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, Classic Caesar Salad, Crispy Chicken Salad and Dave’s Sassy BBQ Salad which includes your choice of pulled BBQ chicken, Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork on a bed of crisp greens, smoked bacon, Cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes and shoestring potatoes. Tossed with our house-made honey BBQ dressing. Famous Dave’s also offers a Fresh Garden Salad or a Side Caesar Salad if you prefer a smaller portioned salad.

Nice hot soup always hits the spot! You can order Dave’s Chicken Wild Rice Soup and Dave’s Famous Chili either by the cup or bowl. When you’re ready to pick side dishes, here are your choices: Wilbur Beans (baked beans with smoked pork, brisket, hot link sausage and jalapeño peppers. Creamy Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Drunkin’ Apples (Warm apples in a cinnamon and amaretto sauce), Famous Fries and Galic Red-Skin Mashed Potatoes.

Not to worry, Dave doesn’t leave the kids out with his Lil’ Wilbur Meals children menu. His kids menu features kid-sized portions of all the BBQ faves – hickory-smoked ribs, country-roasted chicken and Georgia chopped pork. In addition, your little Wilbur can order BBQ Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Burger or Cheesburger, Macaroni & Cheese, Root Beer Float and an Ice Cream Sundae.

What better way to end a perfect meal than with a delicious Famous Dave’s homestyle dessert? Finish supper off with Dave’s Famous Bread Pudding which is smothered in pecan praline sauce and served with vanilla bean ice cream, Pecan Pie also served with vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream, Hot Fudge Kuhlua Brownie which consists of a warm, walnut-covered chocolate brownie, soaked with Kahlúa liqueur and topped with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, and whipped cream, and the Famous Sunday drizzled with hot fudge or pecan praline sauce and topped with whipped cream.

Catering & Take Out

Famous Dave’s BBQ can help you host your own barbeque party with BBQ ribs, BBQ sandwiches, BBQ catering services for graduation, wedding, or company picnic. As their website mentions, “You name it, we’ll be there. No order too big or too small. We’ve catered our BBQ for groups from 6 to 16,000.” Don’t feel like dining in? Take home Family To Go Portions. You can order ribs by the slab, rib tips, hot link sausage, chopped pork, brisket, and pulled BBQ chicken by the pound and a host of other items I mentioned on his menu by the 1/2 dozen, dozen, pint or quart.

Other Famous Dave’s BBQ Goodies

Looking to show Dave up on his BBQ? You can give him a run for his money by visiting his BBQ Store. Order rub, barbecue sauce, marinades, pickles, smokers, smoker wood, Famous Dave’s apparel, get barbecuing tips, BBQ news, and you can even steal some recipes.

About A.J.

Owner and creator of MegaBBQ.com. Worked in the BBQ industry since 1987. No longer in the restaurant business, however I am enjoying experimenting at home smoking, grilling, barbecuing and writing about my experiences here on MegaBBQ.com!
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