If I had one complaint about the food in the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area it would be that there are no legit BBQ joints. I really can’t think of one place in the area that specializes in BBQ, aside from Smoke House Blues which is pretty so so. Zingerman’s Roadhouse comes close, but it features a lot more than BBQ and costs a pretty penny. When I found out that the Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery was opening up in Ann Arbor, I couldn’t wait to visit and see if my wishes were answered. How do you survive without good BBQ within driving distance? How has this area, which has pretty much any kind of food you could ever want, existed without BBQ? The guys who brought you Grizzly Peak and Cafe Habana have come to our rescue.
This is a definite Southern style place. From Carolina BBQ to fried green tomatoes, it screams down home deliciousness. The atmosphere of this place is pretty nice. It’s a cozy, trendy, dark little pub with that Southern flair (unfinished wood paneling, random tractor paraphernalia on the wall). There are giant casks of beer above the bar that help add to the rustic feel. I’d say there are probably only about 20 tables in the entire restaurant. I’ve been to some of the better BBQ joints down South, and the Blue Tractor is obviously trying to emulate that atmosphere while adding a modern feel. It works to a point, but doesn’t exactly trick you into thinking you’re not eating in downtown Ann Arbor.
My meal began with the soup of the day, which was a Chicken Corn Chowder. This wasn’t anything incredible but it was a pretty tasty soup. I wouldn’t rush to order it again, but it definitely wasn’t the worst soup I’ve ever had.
There are a lot of good looking appetizers to choose from, but we went with the Artichoke Dip, which is made with Swiss cheese and served with fry bread. This dip looks exactly the way it tasted. Delicious. It was a lot heartier than your average artichoke dip and will fill you up before you get your dinner if you’re not careful. A lot of the appetizers look like they have potential, but I have to recommend this one.
For dinner one of the obvious choices is the Beer Can Chicken. If you’ve never had beer can chicken, you need to stop reading this right now and figure out a way to get yourself some. Basically you stick a chicken on top of a half filled can of beer with some added seasonings, throw it in the oven, and the steam from the beer moistens and adds flavor to the chicken. Blue Tractor slow cooks a free range chicken over the beer can, chargrills it, and bastes it with Bock barbecue sauce. It’s served with a side Bourbon baked beans and buttermilk mashers. This is some serious food porn. The chicken comes perfectly cooked, and the barbecue sauce is plentiful.
While I was looking around the menu a lot of items caught my eye, but none more than the Buffalo-Style Mac and Cheese. I know I’m at a BBQ restaurant and everything, but I couldn’t turn this down. It’s made with a blue cheese sauce, chicken cooked in red hot, and topped with chives. What I got blew my mind. I seriously couldn’t start eating for a few minutes because I didn’t want to disturb such a beautiful sight. Thankfully I bring a camera with me to restaurants and I can now savor this image forever. This isn’t your everyday mac and cheese. If you can finish this entire bowl in one sitting, then you get some major respect from me. The blue cheese sauce is incredibly rich, and the chicken is spicy and delicious. I couldn’t help but mix the chicken and the hot sauce in with the macaroni and create a big sloppy mess. Good god this was delicious.
They also brew all of their own beers in house, but it was lunch time and my drinking problem hasn’t reached that level yet. I will for sure be making another visit and will give them a try then. As far as the food goes, I have to recommend the Blue Tractor to anyone who likes BBQ or just good food in general.