If you're going to eat barbecue in Louisiana is it naive to wonder if at least a few selections on the menu might be swimming in a cayenne infused blend of traditional sauce? Is that a combination that either hasn't been considered yet or has been tried and failed miserably, never to be revisited again. My co-worker and I didn't know what to expect when we first walked in to "Bodacious BBQ" in Monroe, Louisiana other than the fact that it was a hole in the wall BBQ joint, the best kind bar none, and it came highly recommended by colleagues in the city.
The greasy auto-mechanic behind us in line quickly sniffed out that we weren't from around Monroe but was enthusiastically cheerful in telling us that Bodacious made the best fried catfish up and down Louisville Avenue, the main east-west drag in Monroe. "Better than Catfish Cabin," I asked incredulously, one of many places I'd spotted while searching for someplace interesting to eat but not stopping at. I'm not much on fried catfish but the mechanic was so cheerful that good conversation, at least, was a good thing. We allowed him ahead of us as he wanted the Five-Fillet special while my co-worker and I were still shopping the menu.
True to form I always look for a sampler plate of some kind, wanting to run an establishment through its paces across the three mains of any self-respecting barbecue house. The co-worker went with chicken and crawfish etouffee while I called myself eating light by going with the two-meat sampler instead of the three-! Orders were taken and cut at one end of a high counter, sides added in the middle and the whole heap rung up at the register to the left, assembly line style and very quick and efficient as well.
Beef brisket and pork ribs were my selection along with dirty rice and green beans. The brisket was fork tender, the ribs fell off the bone, the sauce was finger-licking good and, as if that weren't good enough, the dirty rice pert-near stole the show! Moist, tender, generously spackled with sausage, this was the kind of Louisiana soul food no surgeon general would ever recommend as a regular part of the diet; it was that good and the beans weren't far behind, tender, sweet onions and tasty bits of salt pork the way Grandma used to do, sho'!
We were lucky, having decided to eat relatively early in the lunch hour, beating the standing room only crowd by about 15 minutes and no more than that. There were hardly ten tables in the small dining area and there was an unspoken understanding among the patrons that said eat quick, bus and clean your own table and free it up for others. And there were plenty of others, all standing around, plate in hand and waiting their turn to enjoy the barbecue goodness.
Bodacious BBQ of Monroe, Louisiana is a husband-wife family owned business that works hard and takes obvious pride in its product. She runs the register and keeps things humming up front while the husband works the back, is most likely the pit master and certainly a skilled one at that. For eating "light" neither my co-worker or I ate anything else the rest of the day!