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TLO Restaurant Review: HeavenLee BBQ

7:30 AM EDT on October 5, 2021

A few days ago, esteemed TLO godhead Patrick texted me, telling me to add HeavenLee BBQ, 8601 NE 36th in Spencer, to my restaurant list. Even though I just had Puerto Rican food in that underrated burg, I told him that I definitely would, as I am an obsessive fool about the charred meats of a godly barbeque joint.

I don’t know how he heard about it, but I’m darn glad he did.

I headed out there this past weekend, finding a refurbished drive-in eatery with a screened patio where my friend and I immediately found a place to sit and pray. They were busy, filling orders before the football game, but still found plenty of time to not only say hello to us, but bring us a couple of drinks and take our orders, as I already knew what I wanted…what I needed: Rib Tips and Brisket Burnt Ends.

Now I know that, to many so-called “barbeque aficionados,” that there’s no way to enjoy those cuts of meat judiciously with any love in their misbegotten hearts, but they happen to be my absolute favorite works of sauced art, with every bit of meaty sweat mixing in with the much-needed fat for my habitual enjoyment, especially when done right.

If you don’t like it, you can go suck a rib-bone.

The owner brought us our food and made sure that we had everything we needed; looking at the beautifully cooked ‘cue before us, I sure say we did. I dug in first to the Rib Tips ($13.00) with Baked Beans; the tender meat barely needed to be pulled off the bone, as I took a much-needed bite. Immediately, like the name of the place partly says, I was in heaven.

With a little dip of their hot BBQ sauce, these were some of the most cherubic rib tips ever, with the proper amount of saucy chubs mixed right in the full-on lean meat. The baked beans were just as good, a taste that I have never had before as a warm feeling of hot chili beans—done baked bean style!—slid down my throat into the awaiting Hell of my well-meaning belly.

As my friend worked on a borrowed rib tip, I had to try a few of those Brisket Burnt Ends ($13.00) with Fried Okra. About the size of a child’s building block, each jaggedly cut cube was a wonderful sojourn of faith, the sauce burned right on the meat. As I took each piece of brisket into my mouth, I felt like I earned a feather on each angelic wing with every virtuous bite.

Of course, what it came down to for me was my old friend, the fried okra. Dark brown and firmly soft, the good news is that they were incredibly well done, the perfectly seasoned outer coating not needing the ketchup or any other tomato-based sauce I usually spill all over them like the spiritual plebian I am. Heavenly is right!

While I should have been stuffed and rejected any further edible sins, I couldn’t say no to their Smoked Apple Cobbler ($4.00). Having sold all out of their peach variation, truthfully, you couldn’t sell me any better dessert; the wonderfully baked apples, uniquely spiced that way I like it with something other than cinnamon, it was truly one of the best sweets in all of creation.

As I paid the check, the owner offered my pup Sean a couple of rib-bones, to which he, with a glowing love that is true and pure, gnawed on all the way home. Cómpralo ya!

_

Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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