eaten in my youth was not barbecue. On another trip, a shack on the outskirts of Atlanta demonstrated what real barbecue could do to pork.
Now, though, serious barbecue places are proliferating in Michigan, all boasting of rubs, wood fuel, long cooking, and sauces served separately. I decided to try two new places nearby--the takeout Hotel Hickman in Dexter and the full-service restaurant Smokehouse 52 BBQ in Chelsea.
A family gathering in May gave me a chance to test Hotel Hickman with an expert: a cousin from Kansas City accompanied me to pick up the meal and pointed out the enclosed cooker out back. "That's a good sign," she declared as we walked toward the miniature barn across from Dexter's central gazebo. Inside, two fellows sporting cowboy hats and exuberant facial hair had our order ready, delivered with banter that matched their buckaroo personas.