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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Indy’s ‘heavenly’ barbecue place

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When I stopped by to try this week’s restaurant, Bar-B-Q Heaven, I learned that its reputation has spread far and wide.

Charles Cannon, a truck driver from Atlanta, had made it a special stop for lunch. “I had tried this place back in the ’70s,” Cannon recalled. “And back then, I told myself that ‘the next time I’m back in Indy, I’m going to get some more Bar-B-Q Heaven.’”

He had finally returned to our city and made a truck delivery on the Westside, but that did not stop him from getting directions and driving all the way across town to the find the restaurant, which is located just east of the intersection of Fall Creek Parkway and 30th Street.

The fact that a man like Cannon would remember a small eatery like Bar-B-Q Heaven, and go out of his way to find it more than 30 years later, pretty much indicates that the restaurant has become an institution. It has been serving tasty homemade barbecue since it first opened on Indiana Avenue in 1952 and, although new development forced the restaurant to move from its original location, is still going strong with three locations: 877 E. 30th St., 2515 Martin Luther King Jr. St., and a newly opened vendor in Lucas Oil Stadium.

An unwavering commitment to flavor has kept Bar-B-Q Heaven in business for so long. Signature dishes such as spare ribs and pork chops are slow-cooked in-house with real hickory, cherry and apple wood, giving them a distinctive and authentic smoky flavor. The restaurant offers a choice of three barbecue sauces – mild, hot, and sweet – all of which have been made with the same recipe since ’52. Classic sides like macaroni and cheese, greens, baked beans and homemade chili compliment any meal.

At Bar-B-Q Heaven, the motto is “Let our ribs tickle yours,” so I figured it was a good idea to try the ribs. Specifically, I tried some small rib tips with the signature hot sauce. When Casey Jones, the 30th Street store manager, asked which sauce I wanted, I asked him how hot the hot sauce is. His response was simple, yet descriptive: “Hot.” He was right. It was hot enough to satisfy a spicy food freak like myself, but it also had plenty of that wonderful and uniquely American barbecue flavor.

I was very excited to find a high-quality barbecue restaurant here in Indianapolis, because it seems that our city is lacking in that culinary department. The last time I had some real, authentic, good barbecue, I was in Memphis, Tenn., several years ago. It would not be surprising if the restaurant sticks around for another 58 years.

For more information, call (317) 926-1310 or visit barbqheaven.com.

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