On the outskirts of the city in a forlorn-looking building that was once a gas station, Leo’s is easy to drive right past. If you enjoy southwestern style barbecue, that would be a mistake. Here you will find some of the best: hunky spare ribs with massive amounts of flavor-packed meat; very hot hot links, brisket that is moist and velvety, spicy smoke-pit bologna, and, to gild them all, lusty barbecue sauce that makes taste buds shout hallelujah.
Accompanying the fine meats are beans that are thick, hot, sweet, and loaded with fatty pork, and potato salad that is cool and starchy. Both provide welcome tongue relief from the pyrotechnical spectacle of the beef and pork. And of course, all platters come with super-soft white bread, which serves two worthy purposes: to absorb sauce and juice, and as an edible cloth on which you can tamp your fingers after you’ve handled a sauce-plastered rib.
Meals include Leo’s signature dessert, a completely uncomplicated and thoroughly happy slice of yellow layer cake topped with slices of banana and strawberries with plenty of sweet syrup.
Leo’s is an atmospheric place, quite literally because of aromatic clouds that waft from the indoor pit, and also in the sense that it exudes smokehouse charm. Talk about personable! After taking a seat, I was approached by a waitress who said, ‘Hello, again.’ I didn’t recognize her, but she remembered me — exactly where I sat and what I ate — from a visit over 10 years ago!
Room tone is a duet of “Legends of Soul” playing on the sound system and the whack-whack-whack of the pitmaster’s cleaver separating ribs from the rack. It is dark inside, where the walls and furniture and everything else are perfumed by smoke – as you will be when you walk out.