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WRNL Eats: Guru BBQ

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The final stop in our BBQ crawl from this past summer finds us at the newest BBQ join in the Des Moines metro.

Thanks to the graciousness of local business owners our BBQ crawl was an unmitigated success in feeling miserable by 6 PM on a summer Saturday. This includes Guru BBQ and their co-owner, Ryan LePera, who treated us to the feast seen above.

Guru isn't your typical BBQ joint in the sense that it blends traditional BBQ methods with Cajun, French, Korean, Mexican, Spanish, and Thai influences. This is borne out in a menu that is nothing short of eclectic. The atmosphere at Guru matches its menu with everything we'd expect from a new venture in an area popular with the young professional crowd—hip, swanky, modern. High ceilings and lots of exposed metal with the weird light bulbs that are difficult to find replacements for. There's a patio with views of the scoreboard at the Principal Park.

The beer selection is on point with multiple local breweries featured, and its proximity to 300 Craft & Rooftop (e.g., it's in the same building), makes for a great single trip if you're looking to eat and grab multiple drinks. Or in our case, grab multiple drinks, have an unnamed author throw up, and then top it off with even more BBQ.

The Sides

The Mac n Cheese has a nice creaminess and the ale flavor makes it unique. Large elbows that were a just a tiny bit too squishy for my liking. The Chile Verde Cornbread is the winning cornbread of the day. Great texture with bits of corn and nice levels of heat from the chiles. The sides were largely what you want from a BBQ joint: complementary but not overpowering.

The Meats

The beef brisket had a good flavor and texture with or without sauce, but was a little lacking in its beef taste. The sausage had decent flavor with hints of fennel. The pulled pork trended toward dry on it's own, but had a good base flavor.

Guru's ribs finished behind Kue'd and Smokey D's for some of us, but others felt they were the best of the day from a tenderness standpiont. The flavors here are definitely not tradtional BBQ with more of a hint towads the sweeter side of flavor.

Wings could technically go in the Sides section, but since we're a blog that did a wing challenge six years ago, it only makes sense to consider them a meal unto themselves. These wings aren't the best on the planet, but they're solid in their own right. Tender with a good bark they're best with the Thai Chili Lime or Harissa sauce.

The Sauces

Three sauces are featured here: Guru, Korean, and Harissa. The Guru is a traditional sweetish BBQ, Korean has some heat and hints of peanut and other Thai-esque flavors, and the Harissa mostly gave off heat as it's flavor. A combination of Harissa+Korean or Harissa+Guru was really tasty. We were all split on the quality of the sauces, and mostly split on Harissa and whether or not you had a tolerance to heat. That said, the Harissa is easily the most diverse sauce of the bunch, so give it a try when you go.

However, watch out for the bottles which are topped with similar dispensers that you would see on liquor bottles and only allow a few drips of sauce out at a time. This appeared to be a form over function decision and is the only frustrating thing about eating at Guru.

Like most of our visits on this glorious Saturday, we were left feeling overwhelmingly accommodated by the folks at Guru and came away happier than when we went in. BBQ fusion might not be your thing, but Guru does a great job at the pit meats, and has a diverse enough menu, that anyone who enjoys BBQ can be find something to enjoy.