Reno’s newest barbecue? Head south to Butcher’s Kitchen

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THE PLACE: She ate the whole thing. “She” being my formerly vegetarian friend who has dipped her palate, in the last two years or so, into chicken and the occasional shrimp. And what she ate (read: devoured) was a barbecue pulled chicken sandwich heaped with meat at a recent lunch at the newish Butcher’s Kitchen Char-B-Que in south Reno.

THE LOOK: Butcher’s Kitchen occupies the old Rosita’s Cocina space in the Winners Crossing center at South Virginia Street and Huffaker Lane (Rosita’s, by the by, served the blandest Mexican food I think I’ve ever eaten).

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BUTCHER’S KITCHEN CHAR-B-QUE

Address: 7689 S. Virginia St., in the Winners Crossing center, at Huffaker Lane

Phone: 775-499-5855

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday

On the Web:www.bkcharbque.com

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What’s $10 or less: All sides and burritos, most of the sandwiches, and some of the plates that come with choice of two sides and bread or tortilla

The family-owned Butcher’s Kitchen features a metal railing to help define the dining area, dark wood chairs and ceiling fans whirring overhead. There’s an image of a cow on one wall with the primal cuts defined, a bit of neo-butcher shop.

You order at the counter after scanning the menu, one that’s composed of stylish black planks hung-above the pass-through window to the kitchen. During our visit, a beer and wine bar is receiving finishing touches.

THE MEAL: We’re three this late morning: me, Blonde No. 1 and Blonde No. 2. (Lucy, a terrier mishmash, must wait in the car, though she’d dearly love to have a go at the menu.) Our party decides to order a variety of dishes that could compose 2 for $20 meals.

A heap of crisp golden fries arrives (as do two other dishes) in a black wire basket lined with a sheet of kitchen paper. One exception is a ramekin of macaroni and cheese made with brawny elbow-style pasta that resembles cavatappi.

Blonde No. 2 is already in a clinch with her pulled chicken sandwich. The meat is presented (along with colorful slaw) on a toasted garlic roll.

Blonde No. 1 heads over to the condiment area (also stocked with essentials like napkins and silverware) to avail herself of squeeze bottles of sweet smoky and hot barbecue sauces, salsa rojo and other enhancements for her beef brisket plate.

The plates come with choice of two sides and bread or tortilla. No. 1 chooses, among other things, a cold quinoa salad. The menu also offers an ancient grains pilaf of quinoa, amaranth and wild rice.

These grains aren’t typical of a barbecue spot, of course, but they’re on-trend and a smart way to capture customers who want to practice some healthful eating no matter where they’re dining.

I tackle a chubby burrito stuffed with rotisserie chicken, rice, beans, cheese, sour cream and salsa. The burrito is blistered brown from the griddle. Somehow, I end up with most of the mac and cheese (I don’t mind at all); the Blondes get cozy with the fries.

KUDOS: We decide the pulled chicken sandwich wins the lunch, followed by the burrito and its good fresh flavor. Service is very friendly, and by the time noon rolls around, the restaurant is filling, with a line at the counter.

QUIBBLES: Both the mac and cheese and the burrito taste under-seasoned, the pasta needing salt, the burrito needing more salsa or a few spurts of barbecue sauce. That said, this approach could be a choice by the kitchen to allow folks to season their dishes according to their taste.

Also, food juices soak through the single sheet of kitchen paper lining the baskets; another sheet or two will remedy the problem.

ALTERNATIVES: Tri-tip burrito, brisket or rib-eye sandwiches, or pork ribs or half-chicken platters.

RETURN TRIP?: Yup. Blonde No. 1, who lives in (bring your passport) south south south Reno, probably will be back first. And Lucy wants some leftovers.

Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor of RGJ Media. Join @RGJTaste on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.