Food is always better when you can share it. Whether it’s baking, barbecuing, making your own beer, or just telling people where you like to eat, it’s all about sharing the love. For those that like to cook, it’s the reaction you get when you share a special meal with your friends and family. It’s the gut busting laughter, picking fun at each other and loud grunting noises when something is just too good to describe. It brings happiness and smiles all around. That’s what Big Bruh’s is all about.
Big Bruh’s Soul Food was opened by two guy’s who wanted to share food and love on behalf of their friend, Big Bruh. Big Bruh wanted to open his own joint to share his barbecue but he never had the opportunity. A few years ago he passed. So, in honor of Big Bruh, a soul food place was opened in his name. In short, even though I didn’t know the man, I think his personality comes through the food and Big Bruh would be proud to call this his own.
Big Bruh’s, located on Ashlan and Blackstone, is really delivering some solid grub. I’m not the only one that feels that way either. When I was there I ran into “cousin” Carl who has been coming in practically daily since it opened. Everyone deemed worthy is referred to as “cousin”. Even FresnoBites was “cousin” FresnoBites. I digress. Carl explained, he’s from South Carolina and this is the only place he can get anything close to what he was used to back home. And really that’s how they make you feel while you’re there.
The restaurant offers a very simple menu: meat with two sides and a cornbread muffin. This is comfort food no doubt. My dining partner and I ordered fried chicken with mac-n-cheese and black-eyed peas and an order of fried fish (basa) with greens, candied yams, and red beans and rice.
First off the batter they use for the chicken and fish is, to borrow a word from Guy Fieri, money. According to the owner it contains nine secret spices. Apparently the secret kind that get you blasted if they’re revealed. I’ll pass. It has a wonderful crunchy texture. If you have ever eaten fried food and immediately felt like you’ve made the worst decision ever, this is the exact opposite.
The chicken was perfectly fried, not greasy, and had loads of juice. You can get white or dark meat. I’m difficult and asked for both. They gave me a boneless breast and bone-in thigh. The chicken breast was so good I didn’t even realize it was boneless until I was almost done. The basa fish was fresh, crisp and not at all fishy. Most people will assume cat-fish but this is a lot different. They make the distinction on their menu so it must be important. There was two huge fillets that are very filling. By the looks of the fellas in there running the place, they don’t skimp!
Out of all of the sides, I would have to say the mac-n-cheese was the best followed shortly by the candied yams. The black-eyed peas were mashed sort of like refried beans. They had a nice flavor. I can’t speak to the red beans and rice because I didn’t try them. The one side dish that didn’t come out right for me, even though it had huge chunks of smoked turkey throughout, was the collard greens. They were cooked fine texturally and had a nice spice, but they were way too salty for my tastes. That’s an easy fix though.
Overall, this is a stop in Fresno that you just have to make. The atmosphere is relaxing with simple tables and chairs. Piping through the speakers was a little R & B (along with some Ice Cube mixed in). The focus here though is on the food and in my opinion, it’s worth a trip back for sure.
Pro-tip: Every third Sunday of the month they’re bringing out Big Bruh’s old BBQ rig and are serving BBQ. I think that will be my next visit.
**Update: I went back to Bruh’s and tried the BBQ. I have to say that it was pretty good. I am a backyard BBQ amateur and know good BBQ when I taste it. The ribs were cooked just right and didn’t completely fall off the bone. The fat was trimmed off properly and the ribs were very meaty. The chicken and tri-tip were cooked nice. The BBQ beans were filled with ground beef and had a nice smoky flavor. Last but not least was the homemade potato salad, like the kind mom makes. It was little mustardy but the well proportioned sauce on the meat balanced it out. Definitely should be on your list to try.**