Positives: good barbecue and pie, highway location, homey atmosphere
Negatives: up and down service, tight parking
During a recent visit to the south Dallas area, we had a spare afternoon to do some exploring, so we decided to look around Ennis. Online reviews recommended Bubba's BBQ, so we decided to lunch there. Their food was well worth the drive.
Location and Parking -
Located on the east I-45 frontage road, Bubba's is easy to find. You might miss their squat building but the towering billboard in front can be seen from a great distance.
Parking is tight outside their building. Every spot was occupied when we arrived...interesting because the dining room was not full. We found one open space next to an abandoned gas station on the north side of the restaurant.
We left at the same time as several other customers, and noticed most had parked in the adjacent Tractor Supply Company lot to the south.
With its dull red paint, galvanized sheet metal roofing, and vintage Texaco sign, Bubba's exterior has a definite "down-home" feel.
The interior is crammed with signs and collectibles. A collection of large-scale R/C airplanes hangs from the ceiling. (I'd love to see some of them in flight!) Closely-spaced wooden tables and chairs fill the dining room.
I got something sticky on my hand when moving a chair but other fixtures were clean.
Menu and Food -
As first-time guests, we found the menu and order process confusing. We'd planned to order steaks, but didn't see them listed anywhere.
A menu in the foyer listed barbecue and chicken...but no steaks. Immediately inside the dining area we saw fresh steaks in a large soft drink refrigerator, but no prices or instructions.
Further inside we saw another wall-mounted menu and a sign pointing to the "cafeteria line". We followed it to the carving counter where barbecue was sold. The food looked so good we changed our minds.
My wife chose a "mini-plate" of smoked sausage. Despite the name, portion sizes were ample. She chose green beans and mashed potatoes as sides, and was given a dinner roll. I ordered a baked potato with smoked turkey. It was large, but not too large, and cooked perfectly.
We don't normally get dessert, but upon seeing coconut merengue pie, I couldn't resist. Too many places sell cream-topped pies, which I don't really like. My wife picked up a bowl of cherry cobbler.
Overall, our meal was very satisfying. Our meats had just the right amount of smokiness. The taste was delicate and pleasant...not overpowering like some places. My wife particularly liked her sides. She said they were much better than other home-style restaurants.
Toward the end of our meal I asked a server how to order a steak. She said customers pick their steaks from the cooler and take them to a member of the waitstaff. That server takes the meat it to the chef along with cooking instructions.
Folks behind the serving counter were extremely polite and respectful, addressing everyone with a "yes ma'am" or "yes sir". Their comments seemed very authentic.
We filled our own drinks and got our own silverware. A server did come few minutes after we were seated to inquire if we needed anything. I asked for sour cream and cheese for my potato. She returned promptly with a basket full of condiments. However, we didn't see anyone again until the end of our meal.
The Bottom Line -
Aside from our rookie confusion, we had a great time at Bubba's. It's easy to see why they're popular. Next time...I do expect to return...we'll have a better idea what to do and where to go. Perhaps we'll get a steak then!