I arrived at Off the Grid for dinner, and since I had my three year-old son in tow the first stop had to be at Chairman Bao for some pork belly. Usually the line is pretty deep, but this time one look was all it took to know that I wasn't going to make my way through it in under an hour. And my kid was hungry! So promising him that we'll get some pork belly next time, I moved on to the truck that I really wanted to stop at, the Rib Whip, which conveniently happened to be the next one over. And the line was only five people long. Score!
Another option is a trio of smoked drumsticks with skin still on, dressed to kill in the Rib Whip's tomato and Budweiser sauce. Since mains are served a la carte, I completed my meal with an order of Crackin Mackin Cheese. Skin, sugar, pasta and cheese; I certainly wasn't looking for diet food.
The rich aroma of smoke foreshadowed the taste of the chicken itself, which didn't disappoint with a nice smoky flavor and good pink color running throughout. Aside from some pepper and paprika, I couldn't pick up a lot of flavor from the dry rub, but to be honest due to the ample sauce on the drumsticks I can't say it was wanting for anything.
The Crackin Mackin Cheese is the Rib Whip's contribution to the gourmet mac & cheese movement that's been going on lately. Packed into a little paper cup was a combination of cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses that evenly clung to the sturdy noodles, never turning into a gloppy mess even after cooling down. It's a stovetop mac, so there's no thick breadcrumb crust here. The sweetness of the Gruyere and full mouthfeel of the coated pasta played especially well with the saucy chicken. It's a good side for a pairing, but I would recommend a little bit of hot sauce for some added kick if you were to eat it on its own.
In a wide wide world of barbecue choices, the Rib Whip owner Ryan Gessel wanted to make sure San Franciscans think Midwest when they think barbecue. Mission accomplished.
Chicken Drumsticks Rating: 4/5
Crackin Mackin Cheese Rating: 3.5/5 (ratings guide)
The Rib Whip (@theribwhip) $6 for three drumsticks, $3 per bowl of mac & cheese
Does reading this make you want to try this vendor? Tell them that you saw them at I Left My Cart in San Francisco and support San Francisco street cuisine!