About Rib City Grill
You know you’re in a great place to eat when your mouth starts watering seconds after you walk in the door. Chalk that up to the great smell of old fashioned barbecue coming from the kitchen at Rib City Grill in Fruita.
That’s where it seemed half the neighborhood showed up for a superb dinner generously provided by owners Mike Spradlin and Sara Martz. The two opened their first Rib City location 11 years ago on North Avenue. The Fruita restaurant will celebrate 10 years in business this summer, and their Rifle location has been open for the past 8 years.
When everyone showed up, it was a Wednesday night, a night where most restaurants wouldn’t expect a big crowd. However, you combine delicious fare with quarter draft beers and to nobody’s surprise it looked like a Friday or Saturday instead.
With neighbors getting the chance to meet one another and settle into their seats, Mike, Sara, and their exceptional wait staff brought out a great spread of appetizers to get things going. There was surprisingly tasty fried okra (seemingly everyone’s favorite of the appetizers), served with homemade ranch.
Funny story about the okra, and the sweet tea for that matter. Sara says nobody would order either of them when they first opened. They used to give away free samples trying to convince people this stuff was great. Now, they go through nearly 20k gallons of sweet tea and 5 tons of okra each year!
Moving on, the Buffalo tenders made from fresh white breast meat had just the right amount of spice and were balanced out by some awesome homemade bleu cheese dressing. Finally, you knew the bbq potato skins weren’t good for you, but they were way too delicious to pass up combined with the homemade spicy ranch.
We wrapped up our appetizers and were then presented a family-style arrangement of some of Rib City’s most popular main dishes. There was a Carolina-style pulled pork made with a splash of vinegar along with crushed red pepper and mustard. The brisket was dry rubbed with Rib City’s own blend of seasonings and smoked for up to 12 hours. Then there was fresh, never frozen bbq smoked chicken, sourced right here in Colorado. One diner described the chicken as “moist and flavorful”. And while all of these were crowd-pleasers, the big winner of the spread seemed to be the baby back ribs. The ribs, described as tender and flavorful, are imported from Denmark, smoked, braised, and then finished on the grill to order. One of our diners expressed what everyone else seemed to be thinking, describing the ribs simply as, “Yum!”
All of these dishes, by the way, were served with a selection of two sides. We were asked to choose from baked beans, cole slaw, and potato salad. Each side dish scored high praise, especially those baked beans, which were described as, “so tasty!”
With everyone’s appetite satisfied, there was one more delicious piece of the meal left. Our attentive wait staff brought out slices of homemade key lime pie. It was widely praised by our group, with one reviewer claiming it the “perfect amount of sweet and sour.”
Maybe the best review of the night came from a distinguished gentleman who spent a great deal of time living in Texas. He called the food excellent in its quality of taste and deemed it equivalent to the high barbecue standards you’d expect to find in the Lone Star State.
So what’s the secret to Mike and Sara’s success with Rib City? There are a few reasons. First of all, these aren’t passive owners. You can tell they take the time to walk the restaurant. They check in with their clientele and form relationships, making customers feel at home. On the food side of things, everything is smoked on-site, from the baby backs to the pulled pork and on down the list. In short, the food is fresh. The sauces and desserts are all homemade daily, and they also offer catering from 20-2000 people and from “whole hogs to hot dogs”. Wine, cold beer, and margaritas are also available (don’t forget quarter beer Wednesdays). And good news for those with kids, if they’re under 4 they always eat free!
In spending time at Rib City, it’s clear they’ve really found their niche, providing “a fast, casual dining experience in a family friendly environment with value priced items and above average service.” That, they say, is guaranteed.