Big Ern is a Los Angeles native and honed his smoking skills for years while working at Zappos. He realized his true love is barbecue and decided to switch from selling shoes to smoking beef, pork and chicken. Big Ern’s is a basic BBQ stand, for the time being, lurking behind the soon-to-break-ground Shipping Container Park construction zone façade. Big Ern will open a permanent bricks and mortar location at the Container Park (complete with beer and wine!) next year.
We opted for the three-meat/two-side platter ($15): hot links, pork ribs and brisket with mac ‘n cheese and cole slaw. The meats came drizzled with Big Ern’s not-too sweet, or spicy, 14-ingredient BBQ sauce (we should’ve asked for the meats ‘naked,' preferring sauce on the side).
Big Ern imports his hot links from the North Las Vegas legendary meat-shack, John Mull’s, and prefers simple seasoning in his brisket, ribs, and pulled pork. Our favorite was the brisket, a tri-colored beef beauty. Big Ern smokes his brisket for 12 hours, using hickory and oak. The result is a dark, crispy bark, an ample rosy red smoke ring and tender, crumbly beef.
The St. Louis pork ribs are nearly as succulent; the visible smoke ring giving way to melt-in-your-mouth goodness. The side dishes are good. The vinegar-based cole slaw, tangy and crisp. Baked beans are tender and studded with pulled pork. Our only slight disappointment was the macaroni (rigatoni, actually) and cheese; it was not bad, just not as creamy and cheesy as a great mac 'n cheese should be.
Big Ern's offers a handful of outdoor picnic tables set atop ersatz grass, and lots of napkins, for your mid-day dining experience. Located in Fremont East on 7th just around the corner from Fremont, the BBQ joint is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and recently added Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Take a gander at the menu, and the pricing, below. Stop by on a Tuesday or a Wednesday this month for a $5 big box special.