Still working on getting to know Grand Rapids. I haven’t ventured too far from my place of employment because I really don’t know where to go. When dinner rolled around tonight, I remembered a place I drove by on Thursday. I wasn’t in the mood for BBQ then (I know…that’s shocking), but I was tonight, so when dinner rolled around, I headed down Wealthy Street again.
Sandmann’s is on the corner of Wealthy Street and Fuller Avenue. It looks to be an old garage or gas station. The building is really a throwback with the rounded exterior, the garage doors on one side and the clock above the sign on the facade.
Parking is minimal on the property. There are only a few spots and they are very tight. You may be better off if you can find street parking in the area or there is a big empty lot across the street. I’m sure that’s probably private property, but at least it would be easy in, easy out if you can find a way in it.
The inside of Sandmann’s is very small. There’s actually only room for two tables and not much out. As far as on site dining options, it’s either one of those tables if it’s not busy or a few picnic tables out front if it’s nice out. There seemed to be half the staff taking a break on those tables when I was there, so that was out of the question too.
When I opened the door, I could smell the BBQ. There was a menu board to the left and the order counter was directly in front of me. There was one person who called in an order ahead of me, so I had a little time to look over the menu. No, let me take that back. I had a lot of time. The employees were preoccupied with making sure someone in back got to see this lady in front of me. It was his girlfriend or something, but they took a lot of time ignoring the growing line and making a big deal out of this lady coming in to get food.
I was very close to turning around and leaving, but the smell was begging me to stay. Finally, the lady working the counter stepped to the side and acknowledged there was now a line out the door.
Usually, I got for pulled pork. It’s my favorite kind of BBQ, but Sandmann’s doesn’t have pulled pork. Their specialty is grilled ribs and chicken. I didn’t want a whole slab of ribs, so I went with the rib tip basket instead. The basket comes with 1/2 lb of french fries. The check was a little over nine bucks which I paid with cash. I wasn’t sure if they took credit at the time, but I see now they do accept the major credit cards.
I took a seat at one of the tables inside that wasn’t being used to wait for my food. It took about five minutes or so before my order was handed to me out a side window. It didn’t take long, but I really don’t know how long I could have waited. It was hot! And the more people who crammed into the small space made it hotter. Sandmann’s is obviously a very popular joint in this neighborhood as people just continued to stream in.
It was way too hot to eat inside and there were no tables outside, so I grabbed my food and headed back to work. My idea was just to eat in my truck so I could keep the air on. Wasn’t the greatest idea I’ve ever had, but it worked out ok.
The rib tips and the fries were put together in the same box with no divider. I was alright with that because that meant the fries were soaking up some of the delicious BBQ sauce.
I started with the fries just because they were covering the rib tips. They were pretty basic crinkle cut fries, but they were more of a vehicle to get the sauce into my mouth than anything. The sauce was actually quite delicious. It’s a pretty thin, sweet, vinegar sauce. I soaked up as much of the extra sauce as I could but I would have needed a couple pounds of fries to get it all. There was a pretty big puddle of sauce left in the box when I got done.
After eating a few fries, I went for the rib tips which were just as delicious as I’d hoped. I don’t do rib tips very often, but this time, I’m glad I did. The meat was delicious and it was swimming in the sauce. The meat was a lot messier than I figured it would be and I had a real hard time not making a mess in my car. I really should have just went outside the and ate using the bed of my truck as a table, but after a few bites, my fingers had a two inch thick layer of sauce on them…and there were no napkins in the bag. Once done with the 1 lb of rib tips, I licked my fingers as clean as I could and opened my glove box to find a few napkins which would at least let me get back in the building where I could find a bathroom and clean up. I always say I don’t order ribs because I don’t like looking like a slob in public. I’m glad I stayed in the car and didn’t make a fool of myself in front of my new co-workers.
Sandmann’s is going to be a frequent stop for me. The food is fantastic. I grabbed a couple take out menus so I can call ahead next time. They’re open past midnight on weekends and since I don’t get off until about midnight, it’s one of the few places in the area that will be open. It’s a little out of the way, but worth the trip.