Big Bully's BBQ Burgers is hidden in a strip mall on Route 1A in Beverly. As you walk down the long but narrow dining area, you pass 80 flavors of Richardson's ice cream and dozens of framed posters of legendary "bullies" from the world of sports, music and movies. Well before you approach the ordering counter, you can smell the intense aromas of flame cooked beef. Once there, you can only marvel at the sight of burgers mingling with a raging inferno.
The menu at Big Bully's, as you'd probably guess, is heavily focused on the burgers—half pound patties made with 100% Boar's Head beef. You can get a single ($5.95), double ($7.95) or triple ($8.95) with your choice of cheese options, bacon and other toppings (50 cents each). They also have steak tips and turkey tips, four kinds of fries (steak, curly, shoestring and sweet potato) and onion rings. Barbecue is somewhat of an afterthought here, with a pulled pork sandwich, a brisket sandwich and half rack of ribs the only choices. Healthy options include turkey burgers, veggie burgers and grilled chicken, plus a few different salads.
The cooked-to-order burgers here were big and juicy, with that charred, high flame taste familiar to fans of Ponderosa or York Steak House. As if you need extra fat and calories, the bun came buttered and lightly grilled. Lettuce and tomato were very fresh. I thought the bacon portion was a little skimpy, but overall, the burgers were impressive and an exceptional value.
The pulled pork sandwich ($5.95) had finely mashed meat engulfed in a dark brown sauce similar to KC Masterpiece, but I still found it a little dry. The brisket sandwich ($5.95), served unsauced, had crumbly, tender meat with pink edges. It tasted more like pot roast or deli brisket than smoked brisket.
A half slab of ribs ($11.95, with steak fries and salad) was served lightly sauced. The ribs were meaty and slightly moist, with a briny, hammy taste similar to the erstwhile McRib sandwich at McDonald's. There was some retraction of the meat to expose the tips of the bones and a hint of smoke (possibly the liquid variety), but no smoke ring. For a barbecue joint, I'd expect much better, and even for a burger joint the 'cue was borderline. I don't think they're using a smoker.
There's a condiment station that features ketchup, mustard and mayo but no barbecue sauces.
Sides were decent. Sweet potato fries and onion rings were both on the dark side and very crisp. Curly fries and steak fries were less crisp and a little softer in the middle. Cole slaw wasn't too different from what you’d get at a supermarket.
The bottom line: If Big Bully's were closer to home, I'd definitely stop in every now and then for the burgers. I'd probably pass on the barbecue even if they were next door.