If you unofficially asked me what the official food of summer is, I would have to go with barbecue. Now that we've plunged deep into the summer months, I'm proud to say that Ashland residents have an authentic barbecue joint to call their own with Home State BBQ.
The restaurant is at 376 E. Main St. in the former site of Evo's Coffee Lounge. I had only been to Evo's twice since moving to Ashland, and I can't really remember how it looked inside, but Home State couldn't have picked a better location for a western barbecue restaurant.
Dining out with
the Mail Tribune
Home State BBQ
376 E. Main St.
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Daily
Red and black are the swatches of choice for the building's outside, and I couldn't think of a better choice to convey Home State's identity. The location's gas station origin only adds to the setting, leaving a lot of open space between the building and the street. The covered deck space to the right of the entrance remains from the days of Evo's, along with a few uncovered tables to the left.
I brought along my roommate and his girlfriend for a Monday night dinner because barbecue is not a meal to be enjoyed solo. The first thing that my roommate's girlfriend pointed out were the license plates that circled the dining room. My eyes, however, were drawn to the cork-board map of the United States that took up nearly the entire wall to the left.
The menu offers everything you would expect at a barbecue joint. Main dishes are split into three categories: salads, sandwiches or plates.
These aren't wimpy dishes either. My roommate's girlfriend ordered the Country Cobb salad for $10. The mixed green salad bed comes loaded with avocado, tomato wedges, a hard-boiled egg and heaps of bacon, and it includes a blue cheese vinaigrette dressing. Salads come with the option of adding pulled pork, pulled chicken or brisket for $5.
My roommate and I opted for plates. He chose the half chicken for $16 (also available as a quarter chicken for $12) and while I had hoped to try the brisket (full order for $20 or half order for $14), they were out — a good sign in my book when it comes to barbecue. I decided on the third rack of ribs for $12 (a half rack costs $16 and the full rack costs $22). All plates come with a choice of two sides. My roommate and I both opted for baked beans and mac 'n' cheese.
Beverages include a wide variety of bottled and draft beer and cider. Housemade lemonade and sweet tea (served in a mason jar for $3) also are available.
When the food arrived, I compared my order of ribs to my roommate's order of chicken and immediately decided that I should have ordered more. This isn't to say that my portion was tiny, but everything looked so good that I knew I'd want more whether I was hungry for it or not.
The St. Louis-style ribs were meaty and delicious. Not a single bone had any spare meat when I was finished. The sauce was delicious and, dare I say it, finger-lickin' good.
My roommate had a similar reaction to his chicken, saying that the sauce was very flavorful but not overwhelming.
His girlfriend noted that the creamy avocado in her salad was excellent compared to the darker greens.
The sides are served in small jam jars and were fantastic. The beans were that perfect level of sweet and savory and included huge chunks of pork. The mac 'n' cheese was some of the best I've had.
Words cannot adequately describe how highly I recommend this restaurant.
Home State BBQ is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Call 541-690-7621 or see www.homestatebbq.com.
— Ian Hand