There is a generous slab of pork ribs on my plate, plus slaw and corn on the side. It is the same fall-off-the-bone goodness of Racks barbeque that I’ve come to love over the years. But unlike the family-oriented Racks, this joint at SM Aura serves Engkanto craft beers. And then there are Cards Against Humanity and UNO cards, a Treat-or-Dare dartboard, and a beer pong set-up.
Rackshack, with its industrial interior design and loud music, is “Rack’s cooler, younger brother,” says restaurant owner Leopoldo “Chukri” Prieto III.
“Racks is kind of at a crossroads now, given the influx of local and international smokehouses. Racks’ DNA is still here, but we wanted a more relaxed, laid-back fast casual. Everything that we could not do at Racks, we did it with a lot of fun here at Rackshack,” says Prieto.
Prieto has been responsible for Racks’ second wind more than a decade ago after eating at then the last run-down Racks restaurant in El Pueblo in Ortigas in 2005, when the brand was still owned by another entrepreneur. He was able to turn the brand around, with more than 18 branches of Racks under his helm now.
But Rackshack, Prieto says, will not spell the end for the original brand. “Racks will build its own path. It has already carved a niche as a wholesome family place and it will continue to be one. But we thought it was time to appeal to a younger demographic, that is why we were very conscious in differentiating Rackshack,” he adds.
Rackshack has expanded the signature sauces that its older brother has become well known for. There’s the Mother Sauce, Rackshack’s signature house blend which is mild and sweet; Spicy Mother Sauce; Hoisin Sauce, a burst of Asian flavors with a spicy kick; Carolina Gold, for mustard lovers who enjoy the blend of sweet and tangy flavors; and Kansas Sauce, a sweet and spicy blend, and a personal favorite of Prieto’s.
“Rackshack’s key highlight is its wide range of sauces, which is a homage to the original Racks’ brand. Barbeque is very global now, and we do not want to be stuck in a specific barbeque style,” he says.
“But here at Rackshack, there is something for everyone and every taste imaginable—whether that’s mild and sweet, a little on the tangy side, Asian-inspired, or spicy. And if these flavors aren’t enough to please you, you can always mix and match these sauces to fit your unique taste,” Prieto adds.
The menu is very straightforward, and you order your dish of choice in three simple steps: Step 1. Choose your meats. Step 2. Choose your sides. Step 3. Choose your sauce.
Other items in the menu take their cue from Southern, Mexican, English, Spanish, Japanese and other Asian influences: street corn salad, carnitas plate, Harajuku potato salad, Creole garlic shrimp, and fish and chips, among others.
“We don’t tell you which are the best items on our menu. Our customers decide that for themselves, and being given the freedom to customize their dish allows their personal preferences and tastes to shine through,” Prieto says.
“We believe that barbecue should have no boundaries. We want to turn barbecue into a unique social and interactive experience. Barbecue should be fun to eat and to share among friends. That’s the experience we’d like to bring to Rackshack, and take it to a whole new level.”
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