When it comes to the Rochester barbecue scene, Dinosaur Bar B Que has the market cornered. So when RIT students get a hankerin’ for some good ol’ grilling, they hop in a car without considering the alternatives. Admittedly, Rochester may not be a barbecue mecca, but there are quite a few excellent, often-overlooked joints where diners can dig in and enjoy an amazing home-style meal.
It took a native Rochesterian to introduce me to Sticky Lips Pit BBQ, a sleepy little joint nestled in southeast Rochester. Built in a former car showroom, the establishment provides a gloriously hole-in-the-wall atmosphere. Framed pages from old magazines hang everywhere, and advertisements for everything from Chesterfields to vintage cars adorn the beadboard walls. The vibe is distinctly 1940s, and, late in the Rochester night, the dim lighting sets an ideal mood for a romantic rendezvous or a night out with the boys.
But what makes Sticky Lips stand out is not the atmosphere, but the food. The menu follows the credo that simple is better, and many favorites from the great American cookbook are present, including chicken, steak, and ribs. For the more adventurous diner, there are some more exotic dishes, including jambalaya, catfish, fried pickles, ratatouille, and “Ultimate Mac & Cheese”, a combination of macaroni, cheese, hot dogs, and chili (certainly not designed for the weak). Most entrées are reasonably priced and tend to fall between $7-20. For guests over 21 the restaurant has a variety of standard-fare beers, as well as a “Finger Lakes Wine Tour,” a menu devoted to regional wines.
Perhaps the reason Sticky Lips is less well known than its reptilian respectin’ peer is its lack of a legacy. Founded in late 2004 by “Howie” Nielsen, also the owner of Park Avenue’s excellent Chester Cab Pizza, Sticky Lips is a relatively recent endeavor. Still, it’s unfair to compare the Sticky Lips to its better-known brethren, Dinosaur. Both provide their own unique experience, and in the long run, our stomachs come out the winner.
Check out Sticky Lips’ menu online at http://stickylipsbbq.com and visit them at 625 Culver Road.