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One taste of the Maumee joint’s sublime ribs or grilled chicken sandwich and there can be no arguing the point. If Deet’s doesn’t have the best barbecue in Toledo, I’m not sure who does. Its sauces are uncomplicated — the sweet version delivers a smoky zing and the hot variety is just tangy enough to bring on a little sweat without being overbearing — and the meat is devoid of the fat and gristle that can mar a good barbecue meal.
The restaurant’s menu is strikingly simple, but there’s charm in a place that focuses on doing something really well without messing with gimmicks and oddball items. Basically there are just four kinds of sandwiches — pulled pork ($6), beef brisket ($7), savory smoked chicken salad ($6), and grilled chicken ($6) — one entree, St. Louis style ribs ($9 for a half rack and $16 for a full), nachos ($7 to $9), and some sides.
That’s it, but somehow Deet’s rises far above the competition.
The barbecue chicken sandwich is huge, and the grilled breast and barbecue sauce were perfect complements. The pulled pork and beef brisket were equally big, and Deet’s does it right by providing large, sturdy buns that don’t fall apart under the weight of the meat and sauce.
The St. Louis style ribs were ideal — no fat, meaty, and soaked in just enough sauce that they weren’t messy. Deet’s does you a favor by cutting them apart so you don’t have to wrestle the things into submission, and of course you can add more sauce.
DEET'S BBQ * * *
Address: 1835 Conant St., Maumee.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are not accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average price: $.
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: deetsbbq.com.
Ratings: * * * * * Outstanding; * * * * Very Good; * * * Good; * * Fair; * Poor.
Sides include home-style baked beans ($1), cole slaw ($1), cinnamon apple sauce ($1), corn muffins (50 cents), and creamy macaroni and cheese. All the sides we tried tasted truly homemade. The apple sauce was chunky and loaded with cinnamon, the baked beans didn’t taste like they came out of a can, and the mac and cheese was similar to what your mom might make.
The downside of Deet’s was made clear both times we visited. The weather was bitterly cold and the interior of restaurant, tucked away in a strip mall next to Meijer, seemed to drop 20 degrees every time someone opened the door. There are only a few tables that seat a total of 12 people, and we sat about 15 feet from the door, huddled in our coats.
This is unfortunate and could be a sign of a business in transition. Owned by Bob, Trevor and Lisa Deeter along with Allen Laurel, Deet’s started as a catering business, and the restaurant has only been open since September. The result is a place that seems set up more as a carry-out than an actual diner, and Deet’s still is heavily involved in catering.
It’s clear the business is growing, and given the high quality of its food and the friendly customer service (and, we should note, excellent blues music playing on the in-house sound system) here’s hoping they can afford to move into a bigger place and continue expanding.
As it stands, Deet’s offers four-star food in a two-star place. If it grows into a bigger restaurant and keeps the menu simple and economical, we’re predicting booming business.
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