We've always had our share of carry-out rib places and oil-drum smokers and some sit-down chains in the suburbs. But local barbecue was never very plentiful, and it surely wasn't a trendy, high-profile food.
Folks didn't routinely line up out the door for pulled pork. Briskets were more for simmering than smoking. And few investors would have considered sinking a million-dollars-plus into a barbecue joint.
What a difference now.
In the last year and a half -- but especially this summer -- there's been an explosion of new 'cue restaurants, from small neighborhood strip-mall joints to ambitious places that barbecue lovers are flocking to try. It's likely we've never had more and better barbecue choices than at this moment.
Which will be your favorite? That's such a personal, subjective choice, it's impossible to say.
But we've narrowed the field and picked some top spots -- listed here from oldest to newest -- that every metro Detroit 'cue hound should know about.
Four have been open long enough to be bona-fide stand-outs: Slows, Union Woodshop, Bad Brads BBQ and Lazybones Smokehouse.
The other four -- Redsmoke Barbecue, Roundhouse, Rub BBQ Pub and Lockhart's -- are promising new arrivals. We can't say at this point how they'll compare in six months, but they're all contenders.
Don't wait forever to start checking them out for your own personal Best 'Cue list.
If you've been longing for more ribs and pork, this is your year. Don't let all that sauce go to waste!