The smell of ribs crisping in a pall of wood smoke. The drip of coleslaw juice running down your hands as you bite into a thick pulled pork sandwich. The diamond shimmer of condensation on a cold beer. Every sensation of barbecue is inseparable from the summertime, the perfect meal to accompany the hum of june bugs as they bumble fatly over the glass-green fields. Barbecue is Adam and Kendra Taylor’s passion. The North Dakota natives founded Taylor Made BBQ last year as a way to express their love for America’s finest cuisine. “We love Texas-style barbecue, so that’s what we make,” said Adam. “I love its heavy bark and simple flavoring. When you work with good meat, you want it to be the star of the show. We’re so dedicated to authenticity that we ship hickory all the way in from Texas — good smoking woods just don’t grow around here. It’s an added expense, but we can’t compromise over something so essential.”
“We do put our own North Dakota twist on things, though,” added Kendra. “We make all of our sauces and rubs in-house, and although no Texan would turn them down, locals like us will appreciate the subtle Midwest flavors we work into our barbecue. Everything we make comes from our background, our hearts.”
“Most people don’t realize how much work goes into great barbecue,” continued Adam. “By the time I got really serious about it, it was almost like a science. Keeping the temperature consistent for hours, trimming the meat perfectly, knowing how each different cut likes to be treated. It’s definitely a high art when you’re doing everything just right.”
Adam and Kendra are fiercely protective over their pitmaster secrets. The closest you’ll get to knowing what’s in their spice blends is by tasting them, but there are a lot of worse lines of investigation to pursue. (They’ll confess to using only salt and pepper on their brisket, which doesn’t need anything more.) Their meats are sourced from around the Bismarck area, always changing to offer the area’s very best to their diners, but still kept a trade secret all the same.
Taylor Made BBQ’s menu is simple and pure like a smokehouse’s should be: brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey, and housemade sausages. They make big sandwiches on corn Kaiser rolls, and their meal flight for two lets you sample all of their delicious fare at once. If you are planning a date, take them there to show them how much you love them. (Or just really like them, if you haven’t known each other for very long yet.)
Any barbecue fan knows the sides are important too. “Everyone’s of German descent around here,” said Adam, “so carbs are king. Kendra’s famous macaroni & cheese is our most popular side, but everyone loves our fresh made coleslaw, baked beans, creamy garlic penne, and Hawaiian macaroni salad too.”
(Are you burdened with a vegetarian in your party? They’ll be happy to learn that Taylor Made BBQ also has smothered green beans. That should be enough to keep them happy while you plow through a couple racks of ribs.)
Taylor Made BBQ will soon have partnered with the folks at Laughing Sun Brewing. “You can’t have barbecue without great beer,” said Kendra. “We knew we had to team up with a Bismarck brewery so all of our flavors could stay local. Keeping things distinctly Bismarck has always been our mission.”
Taylor Made BBQ is located at 316 W Main St in Mandan. They open Tuesday through Saturday at 11:00, and close when the barbecue runs out. Go there in time to celebrate the summer in true Bismarck fashion.
By David Scheller