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Mabel’s BBQ, Michael Symon offer most unique take on fare among Cleveland’s Best Barbecue finalists

August 27, 2018

Mabel’s BBQ, Michael Symon offer most unique take on fare among Cleveland’s Best Barbecue finalists

CLEVELAND, Ohio – When Michael Symon decided to make his latest local restaurant a barbecue joint, he was not to content to go the way of traditional southern barbecue.

Instead, the menu at Mabel’s BBQ, which opened in 2016, has a decided Cleveland bent. Based on the Eastern European heritage of Northeast Ohio, diners can expect spaetzle instead of mac ’n cheese, and rye bread instead of cornbread. But the Iron Chef’s love affair with open fire cooking is evident in the meats.

Mabel’s BBQ is one of 20 finalists in Cleveland’s Best Barbecue contest. Each establishment was nominated, and then voted into the finals, by our readers. We invite you to vote for your favorite BBQ joint once daily through Aug. 28. The poll resets each morning at 9 a.m.

We visited Mabel’s BBQ on Aug. 20. Scroll down to see our taste test review of its foods.

MABEL’S BBQ

Address: 2050 E. 4th Street, Cleveland

Phone: 216-417-8823

Website: mabelsbbq.com

Social media

Facebook: facebook.com/mabelsbbq

Twitter: @BBQMabels

Instagram: @BBQMabels

How many different kinds of BBQ are on the menu? Seven: Brisket, Pork Belly, Turkey, Kielbasa, Pork Ribs, Lamb Ribs and Beef Rib.

How many sauce options? One (made with Bertman’s Ballpark Mustard).

Best seller: Brisket

Most unique thing on the menu: Pastrami-rubbed beef rib

Specials: According to manager Nolan Cleary, specials are offered “on a whim.”

Taste Test Review

Cleveland’s Best reporters Yadi Rodriguez, Brenda Cain and Kristen Davis, along with celebrity host/comedian Mike Polk, visited Mabel’s BBQ on Aug. 20.

At each of the finalist restaurants, we’re sampling all kinds of barbecue, including ribs, pulled pork, brisket and -- as well as many sides and a dish the restaurant felt was its best or most unique offering.

Pork Ribs: “These were freaking perfect! Remarkably good char on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside,” said Polk.

“So flavorful and tender,” Rodriguez said.

Beef Rib: “Best beef rib to date. Great thick crust on the outside, but the meat inside is so tender, it just falls apart,” said Rodriguez

“Succulent mellow flavor,” said Davis.

Brisket: “Just phenomenal. Expertly prepared. Buttery, juicy and heavenly,” said Polk.

“I loved this – tender and juicy with a rich flavor. Expertly seasoned,” said Cain.

Kielbasa sausage: “A smoky, spicy tube full of Cleveland,” Polk said.

“Kielbasa is not my favorite, but this one was spiced perfectly,” Cain said.

Sides

Spaetzle: “Can you say comfort food? Rich with just a hint of spice,” said Davis

“Great homemade taste, the way my grandmother made them, with fried cabbage and onions. Delish,” Cain said.

Potatoes: “These were perfect. Crisp on the outside with a nice crunch, and billowy and soft on the inside,” said Polk.

“Very unique approach, rather than standard fries. Crispy and yet not greasy,” Davis said.

Cole Slaw: “Love the red cabbage and the large shreds with nice big pieces of red onion,” Rodriguez said.

“An enjoyable departure from the standard slaw,” Polk said.

Tomato Salad (seasonal): “Great accompaniment to the meats. So fresh with mint and dill and crisp red onions,” said Rodriguez.

“Perfection with tons of dill,” Davis said.

Dessert:

Banana Pudding: “Worth going to jail for,” said Polk.

“So light and fluffy,” said Rodriguez.

Sauce: “Amazing! A true Cleveland sauce made with original Bertman’s mustard. It was a little thin, but you don’t have to use a lot and it goes well with everything,” Cain said.

“I was delightfully surprised with the sauce. I don’t like Bertman’s or maple and yet, somehow, this was great,” Davis said.

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