I'm a little late jumping on the Paul's Rib Shack Barbecue bandwagon. Friday night was my first visit. I've been admiring it from afar for quite awhile, though. Who hasn't taken notice of all those festive party lights draped amongst the majestic live oaks at 4800 Nelson Road? They're hard to miss, especially at night.
Paul Pettefer, known by some as "the bishop of barbecue," started Paul's Rib Shack Barbecue in a bright red food truck before moving into this new non-mobile bright red building.
My first visit to Paul's was short and sweet. My husband and I were picking up a call-in order and taking it home to enjoy in an effort to stay safe during the continuing pandemic. We drove up and I hopped out and went inside to pick up our order of two of Paul's sandwiches: The brisket au jus (with juice) for $8 and a pulled pork sandwich with slaw for $7.
Judging from the packed parking lot and the long line of people waiting to place orders just inside the front door, I would say Paul's is apparently a hot place to be on Friday nights. Looking at that long line, I was relieved to see a sign that said call-in orders can be picked up in the back, so I kept on walking through the building and went right out the back door, as I wasn't quite sure how far back I needed to go.
Once outside on the back deck, I saw a cashier who asked my name and handed me my order and I was ready to go. But not before noticing that out in back is where all the action is at Paul's. There are wooden tables scattered on the grounds, plenty of fans to keep things cool and on this particular night, the Paddio Daddios were playing as diners enjoyed their barbecue.
A hole is cut out of the outside decking to allow a huge live oak to remain undisturbed. The party lights were twinkling from the trees branches and when the Paddio Daddios finished their song, a round of appreciative applause filled the air.
The "back yard" of Paul's is a lovely outdoor space. I'm pretty sure one could be eating an unsalted rice cake with a bottle of water out here and still have a great time. Luckily, these diners seemed to be enjoying tastier fare than that as they soaked up all the wonderful outdoor ambiance. Customers can certainly dine inside at Paul's, too, if outdoor eating isn't their thing.
Once home, we opened up our barbecue treasures. My husband's sandwich was piled high with juicy brisket. My pulled pork sandwich came with a little tub of sauce that could be added at will and a container of coleslaw made with carrots and purple cabbage. The sandwiches are served on butter-toasted brioche buns.
As we enjoyed our dinner, my husband reminisced about another Paul's Barbecue that was located on Kirkman Street back in the 1960s when he was a boy. He has fond memories of his family's trips to that long-gone eatery, and all these years later he still remembers how good the barbecue was.
Learning about the existence of another awesome Paul's Barbecue from days gone by made me think how nice it is to know that Lake Charles now has a new Paul's, and a new generation of Southwest Louisiana residents will be making their own fond memories of this little red barbecue rib shack under the oaks.