WHAT: Baby Blues BBQ is the restaurant and bar that’s taken the place of the departed Bubble Tea House at 3402 Sansom St., across the street from Penn Law School.
NEW TIME ZONE: Baby Blues began as a beachside joint in Venice, Calif., (founded by Philly native Danny Fischer and his partner Rick McCarthy) and grew into a small chain with locations in West Hollywood and San Francisco. The Sansom Street location is its first on the East Coast.
HYBRID STYLE: Barbecue purists will want to know whether Baby Blues serves Memphis, Texas or North Carolina style BBQ. The answer is yes. Co-owner Stephen Fischer (Danny’s brother) says the mission of Baby Blues is to simply serve the best barbecue recipes around.
IN THE GENES: The Fischer brothers grew up in the restaurant business. Their father Lou was one of the co-founders of Gino’s Burgers and Chicken, a popular regional chain in Maryland and the Philly suburbs during the 1960s and ‘70s. The original Gino’s chain closed in 1982, but the brand was revived last month with the opening of a new generation of Gino’s in King of Prussia, Pa.
TRIPLE X: On each table at Baby Blues, diners will find an arsenal of hot and spicy sauce to lend their meals a touch of zest. The “regular” sauce is vinegar-based. The “sweet” sauce is molasses-based. The “hot” sauce is spiked with ginger and Tabasco. The “XXX” (aka “Porno Sauce”) is a sweet-heat killer, made with serrano, poblano and habanero peppers as well as raspberries, pineapple and mango. Also on the table, a bottle of clear vinegar infused with peppers.
GRILL MASTERS: The meat smoker and grill at Baby Blues is smack in the middle of the restaurant. The open cooking area gives the place a game-day tailgating party feel, helped along by flat-screen televisions perched over the bar and tuned to sports channels.
MEAT RULES: Menu items include ribs of all kinds—Baby Back, Memphis-style and Beef—plus burgers, wings, pulled pork, po’boys, shrimp, chicken and catfish. Also available, a slew of sides, including cole slaw, cornbread, hush puppies, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and grilled corn on cob with chipotle butter.
VEGGIES WELCOME: All the sides are vegetarian, except for the collard greens and the pork and beans. Vegetarians can also order the Caesar salad or the chopped salad, as well as the white and sweet potato fries, stewed tomatoes and fried or sautéed okra.
LEAVE ROOM: Main course portions are more than generous, and refills of beverages (Kool-Aid is on the menu) are free. But leave room for a sweet ending because Baby Blues gets rave reviews for its signature dessert: banana pudding.