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Slow cooking gives Phred'z and Lucille's a Southern flair.
Photo: Charlie Ekburg (Fred Smith)
When the smoke is billowing alongside Phred’z Restaurant and Catering in Elko, you know it’s Thursday. That’s the day owner Fred Smith barbecues outside—no matter what the weather.
Phred’z meats—back ribs, pork loin, and sirloin-are slow cooked over mesquite charcoal on a smoker. “This is real barbecue, not a grill. It’s enclosed,” Smith explains. The closed-cover cooking makes the meat tender, and his homemade sauces and rubs add an intense flavor. “The rub’s the key,” he says. “I could tell you the ingredients, but the list is too long.”
Phred’z also has catfish, chicken, pan-fried steak, and blackened steak and halibut. Side dishes include Dutch-oven beans, salads, coleslaw, and corn on the cob. “We do a lot of Cajun here, a lot of gumbos, too,” Smith says. “It’s kind of exotic in a way [for Elko], but it’s starting to catch on.”
Smith’s specialty is a Cajun-style main dish cooked “Phred’z Way” in a Dutch oven. Onions, garlic, mushrooms, and herbs and spices—diners choose hot or mild—-are sautéed in the pot, then pieces of catfish, chicken, steak, or scampi are simmered in the juices until tender. Cooked rice or potatoes and a handful of shrimp are tossed in just before serving.
Smith landed in Ely after leaving the military in 1968 and moved to Elko in 1994. He learned to cook from his mother and grandmother in his hometown of Kansas City, but while he was in the service, he became interested in Southern cooking. “We have people coming here from the South who rave over the catfish and barbecue,” Smith says.
Like they are at Phred’z, smoke and slow cooking are the hallmarks at Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que in Henderson. From the moment you step out of your car, you can smell the mouth-watering aroma of meat cooking over burning hickory wood. The restaurant is located in The District at Green Valley Ranch shopping mall.
Lucille’s, a Western chain also with outlets in California and Arizona, occasionally has live music, and diners can eat indoors or out. Baby back ribs, St. Louis spare ribs, beef ribs, chicken, brisket, and tri tip are slow cooked from two to 12 hours, and then basted with mops or sauces and grilled.
Georgia-born comedian George Wallace, who often plays Las Vegas, places Lucille’s in his top 10 favorite barbecue restaurants, saying the bread pudding “is the world’s best. It is to die for.”
Lucille’s specialties include jambalaya, New Orleans gumbo, and braised short ribs. Seafood takes the form of pan-blackened catfish and barbecued black tiger shrimp. Appetizers and sides also reflect the restaurant’s Southern roots, with fried green tomatoes, creamy cheese grits, honey-roasted peanut slaw, and Southern sweet potatoes and braised greens.
And all of it is available to go.
Phred’z Restaurant and Catering
1250 Lamoille Highway, Elko
Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
2245 Village Walk Dr., Henderson
WORTH A VISIT
Flying Pig Bar-B-Q
Specialty: pulled pork
1100 W. Winnemucca Blvd., Winnemucca, 775-623-4104
In the old Lovelock Depot
1005 W. Broadway Ave., Lovelock
Locals Barbecue Co.
Carson City’s largest open-pit barbecue
3849 S. Carson St., Carson City
BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company
Six-time winner, Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-Off
754 N. McCarran Blvd., Sparks
Barb’s Big Pig Bar-B-Q
$5 lunch specials
1999 Selmi Dr., Reno
If you prefer slow cooking, rib master Mike Bowar of Famous Dave’s—2006 Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off winner—reveals his tips.
SELECTION: Pick out a good-sized slab with a straight bone and a fair amount of fat content.
PREPARATION: Pull the membrane completely off the back of the rib, which allows more smoke penetration.
SAUCES: Rich ‘n Sassy is our award-winning sauce, but we have a great combination of Famous Dave’s sauces available on famousdaves.com.
SMOKING: The slower you smoke it and the lower the temperature, the better the product’s going to be. Within the pit we use hickory wood. Bowar, who represents the Famous Dave’s in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, will be at the Rib Cook-off in Sparks, Aug. 29 to Sept. 3 (nuggetribcookoff.com).