Though he floats among all three locations, Thomas at the moment is mostly in Ann Arbor, presiding over the enormous smoker in the back kitchen, where the smell of smoked meat is nearly overpowering. He says the kind of things you hope a barbecue chef will say: he can tell the difference between meat smoked over cherry, hickory, and apple wood and prefers cherry, and that he brines, rubs, and smokes hundreds of pounds of ribs, pork shoulder, chicken, and brisket a week. Another R.U.B. specialty is "short ribs," actually one long Fred Flintstone-sized rib. It's braised, not smoked. Barbecue dinners with two sides are mostly in the low $20s, sandwiches are around $10.
R.U.B. barbecue comes to the table with a six-pack of house sauces to choose from--mustard-based Carolina, sweet Memphis, and so forth. For the record, chef Thomas prefers the Memphis, and his second favorite is apple.
R.U.B. BBQ Pub, 640 Packard, 662-7000. Mon.-Wed. 11 a.m.-midnight, Thurs.-Sat. 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sun. noon-midnight. www.rubbbqdetroit.com
[Originally published in February, 2013.]