BJ’s Nevada Barbecue Company in Sparks has been a long-time resident of the region, 35 years in all since opening its doors in 1986. But for a barbecue joint older than me, it’s looking pretty good; BJ’s Barbecue is still in its prime.
Coming here at lunchtime, expect a crowd (especially when capacity limitations are in place). There is often a line waiting for a table and a seating area filled with hungry patrons anxious for takeout. Lucky for all of us, BJ’s moves fast. Cooks can throw together a plate of Kick Ass fries or a pulled pork sandwich within a matter of minutes.
The menu is chock full of barbecue staples including a long list of sides that covers everything from French fries to coleslaw, mac ‘n cheese to potato salad. The cornbread, of course, is a must, so soft it falls apart in your hand and thick enough (but not even the slightest bit dry) that you’ll need a glass of water to wash it down.
This is one of those places I suggest asking a fan of the establishment what their favorite order is and just going with it, because chances are it won’t be bad.
For those who want lighter fare, there are soups and salads to choose from, but even those aren’t going to skip the ingredients that make BJ’s Barbecue sing. The chili is topped with cheddar cheese, onions and jalapeños and the salads include toppings such as pulled turkey, beef brisket, hot links and more. For that reason, you may as well go full boar.
That’s what I did when I ordered up the Pete’s BBQ’d Meatloaf sandwich. Served on a hoagie, this sandwich is the size of a sub, but instead of deli meats, you’ll bite into a thick slab of homemade meatloaf packed with flavor. The meatloaf falls apart in your mouth and the hoagie is moist with barbecue sauce (choose from mild, medium and hot). Aside from the meatloaf and sauce, this sandwich doesn’t include any other ingredients and it honestly doesn’t need them.
This meal also comes with a side of your choice. There are a lot of options and all are done well. The mac ‘n cheese is a favorite, made with brie cheese. It offers a very different flavor profile than any other barbecue joint I’ve tried—and that’s not a bad thing.
If you don’t like brie, opt for a different side because you can certainly taste the forceful flavor of the cheese, lathered over elbow noodles sprinkled with bread crumbles.
While the food has certainly earned its bragging rights, made obvious by 35 years in business, that’s not the only good reason to visit BJ’s. During a time when cleanliness matters most, the barbecue joint also took home an award for its rigorous “above-and-beyond” cleaning protocols. BJ’s was the only establishment to earn the Excellence in Food Safety Award from the Washoe County Health District in January during the award’s inaugural year.
In person: 80 E. Victorian Ave., Sparks, Nev.
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Friday 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.