May 16, 2018

LD’s BBQ – a filling station for some of Wisconsin’s best

If you find yourself distracted and suddenly salivating from the smell of savory smoked meats somewhere along Interstate 43 in southern Wisconsin, chances are you’re very close to finding what I think is the closest thing I’ve found to barbecue nirvana in the Badger State.  It’s LD’s BBQ on the edge of East Troy, just off exit 38 and – believe it or not – connected to the BP gas station. 

Yes, you read that right.  Top quality barbecue from a joint that shares a roof with a service station/convenience store.  If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.  But if you need more convincing, all you need to do is get a glimpse of how they make their magic. 

If you look off to the side of the building as you pull into the parking lot, chances are you’ll see evidence of a seriously strong catering business, as well as a smoker (and the smoke billowing out from it) and a generous supply of wood for the fire and flavor. 

Don’t worry, there’s more seasoned oak behind the building near the employees’ back entrance.  I’m sure they’ll always have enough on hand.   

But while they may never run out of wood, I’m not so sure about the finished product.  If you arrive around lunchtime and see the line forming from the counter out into the store, you’ll understand why. 

As you might expect from counter service and shared space inside a gas station, the seating is minimal – and often shared – and the décor is strictly no-frills.  But who cares when the barbecue is this good?  Just hand me some plastic utensils to tackle it with. 

Even though I ordered a sandwich on my first visit, the utensils turned out to be a good idea.  Meet the Wiley – the perfect sandwich choice for those who just can’t make up their mind on the meat they want.  It is not the perfect choice, however, for those who think ordering a sandwich instead of a platter is a good idea when you’re trying not to overeat. 

The Wiley consists of an entire hoagie roll filled with a smoked sausage running the full length of the bun, then covered in pulled pork and sliced brisket and topped with a nice, tangy sauce that complements rather than overpower any of the three meats.  The brisket is supremely tender, the smoke ring prominently showing.  The pulled pork is just as moist and delicate.  But the sausage … wow.  One bite, and the juices are dripping out of your sandwich and onto your plate.  It’s a marvelous, meaty mess (and if that’s not enough, the Z-Drake sandwich adds pulled chicken, too).

Just to make sure you don’t go away hungry, LD’s includes your choice of a side with each sandwich.  And if they’re going to offer a side called ribs-n-beans, I’m going to select it.  True to its name, it’s baked beans with generous bits of rib meat blended throughout.  It tastes as exceptional as it sounds.   

So, I obviously stuffed myself the first time I went to LD’s BBQ.  I planned better for my second trip, and fortunately for me it was on a Friday, so I could try the burnt ends dinner special.  I wish I could better describe how good these sauce-covered bits of succulent, smoky, soft and chewy rib meat were.  Of course, I had to order ribs-n-beans again, and the creamy cole slaw turned out to be a surprisingly good accompaniment to the meat overload.

If you want to experience Wisconsin gas station barbecue that compares well with almost any you’ll find in Memphis or Kansas City, find LD’s BBQ attached to the BP station in East Troy.  But hurry. They’ve outgrown the gas station and are moving to a larger standalone location down the road later in 2018.  The success speaks for itself.  The proof is in the taste of the barbecue.

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