by Carmel L. Mooney
While it is not common to find a franchise that serves extraordinary food, it is rarely possible, and Famous Dave’s is just one such place that beats the odds for vacationing families.
On a recent road trip through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana we had the pleasure of finding a restaurant with such great food and wonderful service that we will be back on many future family Road Trips.
Upon the first appraisal, you can tell you are on to something fun and unique. And you’ll see that the place is full of hungry traveling families as well as returning locals, another good sign. The ambiance is comfortable yet relaxed and fun. Interesting local and not-so-local conversation pieces and decorations adorn the walls and the architecture is pleasing and slightly rustic-lodge style with grand fireplaces and lots of wood and stone.
Shortly after being seated, your server will probably introduce you to the array of wonderful homemade barbecue sauces with varying degrees of intensity. Pay attention because a few are not for the faint-hearted but all are wonderful. They range from rich to zesty to flame-throwing and everything in between.
What makes the food so outstanding at Famous Dave’s is the care that goes into the preparation, hours before you look at the menu.
The brisket, for instance, that dissolves in the mouth with tenderness is slow-roasted for hours and hours long before the front doors open for lunch. It is the most tender and flavorful you could find anywhere.
The same goes for the pork, chicken, wings, and ribs. They are all succulent and moist and wonderful beyond imagining. Why wouldn’t they be? They are all cooked with secret rubs, and spices and 25 years of perfecting the perfect barbecues from across the nation adds to the quality.
The soups are spectacular and so is the chili. Simmered for hours and made from scratch the soups are sheer delight. The fries and chips are delicious and provide the perfect accompaniment alone or for dipping.
Now about those sauces, remember to try all of them on everything. Have some fun experimenting! The combinations are marvelous and they have other secret sauces you can ask for like their pineapple sauce which is to die for, but that gem is kept in the kitchen.
The corn muffins are the best around, moist, soft, and just a touch sweet. Be sure to order some or even better yet, try a combo platter so you don’t miss out on the goodness by only trying one thing.
Be sure to get some baked beans. Most baked beans are boring at steak houses and similar establishments. Not at Famous Dave’s. These beans are hearty and taste delicious with smoked pork, brisket, sausage, and peppers.
Gotta try the coleslaw. It’s got a sweet and spicy bite that’s gentle and yummy. A hint of pineapple and a hint of horseradish make it perfect, not just a simple side to take up space but a treat for the taste buds.
Wings? Did I say wings? These are perfect flavors, not too spicy and meaty but do pull off a bunch of the hand-wiping paper towels and wet wipes…you’ll need them.
Famous Dave’s finishes with a strong ending…desserts are huge and wonderful and their Dave’s Famous Bread Pudding is homemade, from scratch goodness, gooey bread pudding, and pecan praline served with fresh vanilla bean ice cream.
We were amazed at how friendly, helpful, and attentive the waitstaff is. We loved the Kalispell location in Montana the best but we’ll be back and to others as well wherever our road trips take us.
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Carmel L. Mooney is the editor of Road Trips for Couples