Marshall Prichard stokes the firebox of one of the three smokers he fuels to barbecue the brisket and pork ribs he serves at his Sammy’s Texas Barbecue in Uptown. The brisket smokes for 10-12 hours at around 225⁰F on mesquite.
As well as the main indoor area, Sammy’s has two patios. A covered one adjoins the restaurant and has a door to the large back parking lot. On the other side of the restaurant a patio offers a grass covered surface and is a favorite with dog owners (Prichard is a big dog lover himself). That patio also has an outdoor smoker which is brought into use at special events. Believe it or not, Sammy’s does over 100 wedding rehearsal dinners a year, reflecting the desire of local families to offer something decidedly Texan to their out-of-state guests.
The event calendar interleaves comfortably with Sammy’s regular schedule as they are lunch only (11am – 3pm, Monday to Saturday). On midweek days the place is packed with a heterogeneous mix of suits from the hedge fund ghetto just yards away at The Crescent, Latinos who appreciate the Mexican coke and beer with their barbacoa, local residents and tourists. Weekends are more of a family event. We saw a grandfather feeding his grandchildren and a large family in from Austin to see family members in Dallas.
Ordering is the typical walk-through-the-line arrangement. We started with the hallmark meats of Texas barbecue – brisket and pork ribs. I requested a helping from the fatty end of the brisket and had to stress “I like the fat” to get the butcher to recognize that he wasn’t shorting me by serving slices that would usually be discarded. The slices I received were slathered in juicy fat and crisply edged with bark. Prichard switched from Certified Angus to Prime brisket a few months ago and maybe this accounts for the telling flavors of the meat. I am glad I specified ‘on the side’ for the sauce as the un-impugned taste of the meat required none. Not that this is bad sauce. It is mildly piquant and slightly sweet. Some palates might like more vinegar.
The pork ribs were as memorable as the brisket. Moist with soft stringy fibers of meat and a well-seasoned rub of salt and pepper. One of our party ordered the sliced turkey (not pictured) and pronounced it a success as well. The sausage (hot link) has a balance of meat and salt tastes (too often I find sausages at barbecue joints are over salted).
Check out the sides in the photos. Sammy’s may be one of a minority of barbecue establishments that treat them as first class menu members. To the left above the pork chops is a simple but delicious avocado salad (offered as a special, so check daily availability). To the right is a respectable spinach salad. There is also a Caesar (which we did not try). By the brisket, is the fried okra which is considered worthy of reverence by many regulars. Behind it is “Aunt Glenda’s Potato Casserole” which is offered in addition to the usual potato salad and, to my taste, is preferred on account of the cheese-potato synergy. To the right of the brisket is a wing-shot of the obligatory Cole slaw and, behind it, the much more interesting zucchini casserole, which I recommend for its earthy sweetness. The onion rings get their own shot here because they truly are worth it. Part sweet onion, part crispy batter, they are ideal to snack on while chatting and coddling a glass of good beer.
And good beer there is. Several local craft ales (I saw Community Beer Company and Real Ale Brewing Company represented) and Mexican beers take equal billing with the awful national brands. Prichard told me that at wedding rehearsal dinners the groom will often stipulate a particular craft beer and, with notice, the restaurant will oblige.
Midweek lunch times are busy but the range of spaces means that noise levels can be kept low enough for conversation. Being just off McKinney means that Sammy’s may fly under the radar of many barbecue fans but it is a solid choice distinguished by the high-quality and range of side dishes as well as its meat.