R&R BBQ opens new Meridian restaurant; Boise opens in 2021

In the mood for smoked brisket tacos? Mini barbecue pork sliders?

Or craving a multi-meat-piled Caveman burger that redefines the word “whopper”?

Utah-based R&R Barbeque has arrived to feed those carnivorous urges. The new Meridian restaurant opens at 11 a.m. Monday at 3680 E. Fairview Ave. It’s in the former Corner Bakery Cafe spot at The Village at Meridian.

R&R BBQ combines fast-casual convenience with a slow-smoked menu. And the chain is aiming to do more than just integrate itself into the local restaurant community, marketing manager Nadine De La Fuente says.

“We’re trying to make a splash. We’re excited,” De La Fuente explains in a phone interview. “We’ve been in the business for a while, and we’ve spent a lot of time perfecting our recipes and our food. We’ve kind of coined the term ‘Rocky Mountain barbecue,’ and that’s what we’re trying to bring to Idaho.”

Behold the Caveman Burger. Don’t worry; it’s also coming to Boise. Female Foodies R&R BBQ/Facebook

The first R&R restaurant opened in 2011, debuting in downtown Salt Lake City before growing into eight Utah locations. The Idaho store is R&R’s first out-of-state expansion, but it won’t be the last. R&R also plans to open at 150 N. 8th St. in downtown Boise on the second floor of the Main + Marketplace building That’s coming in the second quarter of 2021.

So what exactly is “Rocky Mountain ’cue”? (No, it’s not meat marinated in Coors Light … .)

“Our style is unique to us,” De La Fuente says. “We’ve kind of taken a little bit of everything that we like from other barbecue styles and made it into our own.”

It can be certified Angus beef brisket or smoked chicken (try the boneless thigh). Or “Friggen’ Hot” wings and smoked bacon-wrapped meatloaf. It can be sides ranging from large onion rings breaded in-house to fried okra and hush puppies made from scratch.

And, of course, there’s that hedonistic Caveman burger ($12.99): 1/3 pound of smoked beef with smoked sausage, smoked pulled pork, fried jalapenos and melted Jack cheese, slathered in sweet barbecue sauce.

R&R BBQ was founded by California-raised twins who racked up awards on the barbecue circuit going brick-and-mortar. They announced their retirement this year, but growth plans for R&R already were cooking. The fast-casual brand has the financial backing of Savory Fund, a newly created, $90 million investment force. Savory also powers Utah-based Mo’ Bettahs Hawaiian Style Food, which opened in Meridian last year.

R&R BBQ in Meridian is about 4,000 square feet and offers seated dining. Online ordering and takeout also are available. Delivery won’t be available immediately, but it’s planned soon through third-party services such as DoorDash.

And if you’re normally not a fan of traditional slab-of-meat barbecue? You still might want to strap on a bib and give R&R a go. The restaurant’s brisket is “incredible,” Fuentes says — even if it’s not her go-to menu item.

“This is really surprising,” she says, “but the pulled pork tacos are my favorite. I’ve never thought to get tacos at a barbecue spot, but the first time I tried these, I was blown away — and I crave them all the time.”

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and opinion columnist. He chronicles the Boise good life: restaurants, concerts, culture, cool stuff. Deeds materialized at the Idaho Statesman as an intern in 1991 before taking on roles including features editor, sportswriter and music critic. Over the years, his freelance work has ranged from writing music reviews for The Washington Post to hyping Boise in that inflight magazine you left on the plane. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, Deeds has a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial journalism.

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