I promised you all I’d do it, and so I’ve finally gone and done it.
This week for a meal I’ve gone to the Rochester-famous barbecue house Sticky Lips to see whether or not it beats out Dinosaur Barbecue. But let’s talk the food first before I make any conclusions.
This trip to Sticky Lips was actually totally unplanned. I was getting stuff done all day on Thursday when my girlfriend suddenly called me up and told me that her friends were over and they all wanted to hang out and eat. I dropped by and it was pretty clear that the mood of the room was barbecue, and the prescription for it was available for pickup at Sticky Lips, somewhere between 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on most days of the week.
For my visit, I went to the Henrietta location of Sticky Lips out on Jefferson Road (the second established of Sticky Lips’ two locations). Although it’s in the shopping plaza wonderland of Henrietta, where every storefront has a big light-up sign, Sticky Lips tries its best to stick out, with its neon sign and brick exterior, but can almost be missed on one of those dark winter nights we get here. On the inside, though, the place looks like no other place in Henrietta. Just like Dino, Sticky Lips aims to capture the Americana look of old-school barbecue houses off the open road, like the ones in some motorcycle road trip movie. The difference is that Sticky Lips has way brighter lighting and a less-crowded feel, which is a nice change of pace, considering that breathing space is pretty important after you stuff your face with food.
We were seated at a big wooden table with a rack of sauces and alcohol wipes on the side, a pretty good sign at any barbecue place. The menu at Sticky Lips is insane. It’s a lot more complex than Dinosaur’s, and yet the layout makes far more sense. At Sticky Lips, everything on the menu is separated into groups based on food category. So sandwiches, burgers, wings, ribs, steaks, and chicken plates are all in their own sections of the menu, but then there are even more menu items in those categories, with almost five or so derivatives of each food item available.
Putting this into perspective, I always order pulled pork sandwiches whenever I go out to eat barbecue food. At most barbecue places, it’s a fairly simple affair: order a pulled pork, top it with coleslaw, slab on the barbecue sauce, and bam, you’ve got dinner. At Sticky Lips though, this all changes once you realize they’ve got five different pulled porks: A regular pulled pork, a Carolina pulled pork, a Rochester pulled pork, a Philly pulled pork, and a Photo City pulled pork with capicola on top. I was blown away by the options, so I decided to settle on a Philly pulled pork platter with a side of mashed potatoes, BBQ beans, and chips.
It was glorious. The whole thing tasted of heart attack and grease. I was in love. The Philly pulled pork comes with melted provolone, peppers, mushrooms, and onions, making the whole thing an atomic bomb of fat for my stomach, exactly what barbecue food is supposed to be. I’m surprised it took me so long to try this place, since this mesh of barbecue food with extras is right up my alley.
My girlfriend’s friends had been to this Sticky Lips tons of times before, so they got a platter of wings to share, and let me try some of it. The wings were good, and absolutely massive, but the sauce didn’t quite match the taste of the “wango tango” ones at Dinosaur. I might have to go back and try the other sauces (they had a mild spice), but I think I have an idea of where my heart lies in this domain.
The best part of my meal? It cost me $12 for the platter that I ordered. $12. Now that’s a steal. With a tip on top, you’re looking at a $15 to $17 meal of sugary, sauced goodness.
So that’s Sticky Lips. I didn’t get as much food as I thought would be necessary for a full assessment of the Sticky Lips versus Dino war, but I think that stems from the varied nature of barbecue food. So far, Dino’s winning the battle in the flavor department, but that’s mostly stemming from my love for their wings and beans, which are godly. Sticky Lips isn’t worse, per se, but it hasn’t won my vote quite yet. I’ll have to go back to both some time soon to try their ribs and chicken options separately, because I think that’s where the money is. For now though, I’m gonna head out and get a bunch of seltzer water on the side to prep for my next shot at both barbecue houses.