Our first visit to Dinosaur BBQ’s first Buffalo location was almost a year ago during their preview night. On that particular night, the food was served buffet style and the bar was open (if you could reach it, the place was packed). It was a really unique setting and while we wrote about our experience, it was hard to come to a final verdict on the restaurant. We told ourselves that we’d return in the follow months for a ‘proper’ visit. With new restaurants opening left and right last year, it took us a lot longer to return than we initially expected.
We finally made our way back to Dinosaur BBQ on a cold and snowy Friday night in late January. Knowing there was an event at Shea’s, we made a last minute reservation on Open Table to be safe.
To start, you have to remember the restaurant is now a chain, with 10 locations in 5 states. Sure, there’s plenty of local chotchkies nailed to the walls and even the building’s original vault doors (the building stored movies for Universal International Pictures) are on display in the dining room, but everything seems a little too calculated and cookie-cutter.
While looking over the menu, we decided to order a large combination platter to try as many meats as possible along with a couple appetizers. For starters, we ordered their Original Fried Green Tomatoes ($6.95) and a few BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders ($3.95). The thickly sliced green tomatoes had a crunchy coat of breading that didn’t have a lot of flavor but the cayenne ranch dressing and Pecorino cheese helped. The Pulled Pork Slider is an OK choice for a quick snack with a fair amount of pulled pork on a soft toasted roll. The pork was a little dry and needed some extra BBQ sauce, but still had a good smokey flavor.
For our combination platter we chose St. Louis Ribs, BBQ Brisket and 1/2 Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Mac and Cheese as our sides ($23.95). The sides were very good. The mashed potatoes were whipped and creamy and the mac and cheese had a nice texture with a kick from jalapenos.
The chicken was probably the best meat on the platter. It had a delicious, crispy skin and the meat was impressively tender and smokey. The portion was large and Alli and I had no difficulty finishing every piece. Sadly, that is where the compliments ended for our meal.
The St. Louis ribs were unfortunately over cooked and very dry. After one bite each, we barely touched them. During our initial visit, I remember the brisket being my favorite cut of meat, so I had high hopes when our platter arrived. Knowing brisket can sometimes be dry when not properly taken care of, I specifically asked for my cut to be as fatty as possible. While it appeared they tried to honor my request and there were portions of the brisket that were really tender and fatty, the majority of the brisket was dry and tough. Even adding more BBQ sauce did not help.
In the end, we left feeling a bit disappointed in our follow up visit. We know a lot of people love Dino BBQ and I am sure it will always be crowded; the restaurant looks the part of a BBQ joint, the sauces are tasty, the prices aren’t ridiculous and they have an above average beer list (plus cans to go!). That said, even though Buffalo is not swimming in amazing BBQ restaurants, there are a few (specifically Suzy Q’s and Kentucky Greg’s) that we believe are much more worth your time.