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One Man, Many Meats

Ohio’s Honored BBQ Spot, Midwest Best, At Its Lip-Smackin’ Finest

Article by J.M. Green

Photography by Hailey Bollinger

Originally published in Loveland Lifestyle

I don’t consider myself a barbecue aficionado, especially around these parts, but I do love meat. And the recent honors bestowed on Loveland’s Midwest Best BBQ and Creamery were all the motivation I needed to sample its menu of meats. First, in December 2021, Esquire plucked “The Best Wing Spot” in every state and declared Midwest Best BBQ the Ohio pick for its “smoked then fried wings.”

In March, Yelp devised its own algorithm to announce its list of the “Best BBQ Restaurant in Every State.” Midwest Best wins again.

It began when Midwest first launched with a small shop in Camp Dennison in April 2013.

“We had steady growth there, and knew in order to really reach our potential, we needed more space,” owner Nicole Worsham says. “In September 2018 we opened in Loveland and have been blessed with continued growth.”

The restaurant is contemporary, tucked in a corner off I-275 and Wards Corner Road.

The interior, unassuming—a couple of big-screens on sports channels; some Cincinnati sports memorabilia on the walls that I only hope is growing. With garage doors leading to their patio area, I just know on a summer afternoon this place is bumpin’.

After some careful discernment, I order at the counter and find a table strategically located where I can watch both TVs, the counter and the kitchen entrance. One thing I learn from my lookout—Midwest Best’s pick-up business is insane. The server charged with carryout duty is never not walking back and forth between the kitchen and counter. Her legs are marathon-ready. Her biceps bulge.

I start with Tater Skins—my appetizer—and choose chicken as my meat. In hindsight, why didn’t I choose the bacon? Nothing wrong with chicken, but for some reason I passed on the applewood-smoked bacon and now I feel embarrassed. What I don’t regret is choosing the Simply Sweet sauce. If Cincinnatians love anything, they love their sauces sweet.

The tangy, cheesy, savory skins were a taste bud burst. I scraped the cheese off the basket’s paper like a savage. And then I discovered how they paired with the Creamy Slaw.

Usually, I toss my slaw into the salad category—it’s rabbit food. To quote my favorite Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson, ‘it’s food my food eats.’ However, the Slaw was the side dish I didn’t know I needed. Cool, creamy, slightly tart—it was the perfect complement to the barbecue.

The MB Combo (with pulled pork slider, beef brisket slider and wings) was my entrée. At this point in my dining experience, I had to return to the counter and request more sweet sauce. Wish granted.

“We started as a barbecue sauce and rub company in 2009 after my husband created a barbecue sauce that his coworkers and friends couldn’t get enough of,” Nicole smiles.

The two promoted the sauce in meat markets and Jungle Jim's.

“We started participating in local festivals using our sauce on our smoked meats,” Nicole says. “People were more excited about the meats than the sauce!”

I get it. The pork is lean and definitely cooked slowly over low heat. But still, after two bites, I take the rest of the slider and shove it into the sweet sauce container.

Before I can take my first bite of the brisket, the cook comes out and asks me how I like my meal. The entire staff is friendly. (And there goes that young lady again with the carryout bags. Back and forth. Back and forth.) I always want to say I love brisket. Seems manly. Like what I need to eat after a day spent herding cattle at the Yellowstone Ranch. Truth be told, I find brisket too fatty. Not at Midwest—their brisket is already my clear favorite, and my only regret is not ordering the full brisket sandwich.

But on to the wings with the House Buffalo sauce. The secret seasonings in Midwest’s dry rub are “locked-in-a-vault-worthy”—ever so lightly charred on meaty wings. 

Finally, my “entrée” ends with a side of Mac -n- Cheese. Along with their pulled pork and G-Funk flavored wings, Nicole says the Mac -n- Cheese is one of their most popular items. Cheesy and creamy with a unique and wonderful peppery taste. Still, I feel like I’m cheating on the slaw—never guessed I could be so smitten with a small bowl of cabbage.

For good reason, Midwest Best BBQ has tagged “and Creamery” at the end of its name. For dessert, I order the Coffeehouse Cookies and Cream Sundae with chocolate syrup and allll the toppings. Refreshing after a savory barbecue meal. Pro tip: the ice cream alone is worth the trip.

I celebrate my first Midwest meal with an after-dinner wrap (don’t judge). I order the BBQ & Blue with pork, though I’m wondering if I should suck up the extra $1 for the brisket. The pulled pork is tender, not overwhelmed by blue cheese, and though I’m not a ketchup fan I do love tomatoes—the wrap is infused with cherry tomatoes, which is a wonderful complement.

“We are always exploring ways to grow and expand the Midwest Best BBQ brand,” Nicole says. “Our main focus this year is to expand our catering business, since we’re releasing a new menu soon.”

New menu? As if I thought that server might rip the wrap out of my grip, I quickly slap on so much sweet sauce, it’s streaming down my arm. I have no shame. Nor will you. | 669 Justice Ct, Loveland | 513.965.9000

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