If you arrive at Bubba Blues B-B-Q in Columbus, Indiana, just before opening time (usually 11 a.m.), you’ll often see hungry, eager people strolling up and peering through the windows. When the locals want in this badly, it's safe to assume they’re probably serving something special inside.
Some visitors might take one look at the strip mall location and keep right on driving—the pawnshop next door isn’t the best of neighbors. But barbecue isn’t snooty about the company it keeps, and like the best practitioners, Bubba’s flavors its tasty offerings with just a touch of wrong-side-of-the-tracks grit. Check out the customers lining up to order at the counter. You’ll see business people, students, staff from nearby Columbus Regional Hospital and local folks who know from experience where to find a great meal fast without resorting to fast food.
Grab a half-slab of ribs for $12.79 ($14.99 with two side dishes), paint them with something from the serve-yourself sauce bar, and adjourn to feast at a table equipped with a roll of paper towels. We advise asking for the potato salad and slaw, and don’t forget the jalapeño corn bread—a plum-size wad of batter tossed into the deep fryer to sizzle until it achieves crispy, oily perfection. Forget the butter; the corn bread is great on its own or swiped through meat fragments.