Most times when critic Daniel Vaughn writes up a notable brisket for Texas Monthly's BBQ Blog, the story is prefaced by a tank of gas and a few hours behind the wheel. That's great if you're the kind of person who relishes a Sunday drive. Epic journeys make smoked meats taste better; they add a layer to the story. Me, I hate driving. I think it stinks. So when a barbecue discovery springs up inside the loop it really makes my day.
Meet Sammy's Bar-B-Q, the barbecue restaurant you've driven past hundreds of times and never known it existed. You can pass by while driving on the Maple Routh Connection, look right at the place and not see it. If you wait for the smell of wood smoke it's too late.
Sammy's is hard to find because the restaurant has been holding steady as the neighborhood springs up around it. The front of the restaurant now faces the back of a high rise, so you have to enter through the back patio. You don't see a sign for Sammy's (the one I photographed is on the side of the building). You just follow your nose.
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The whole reason I paid the restaurant a visit was because I was seduced by the idea of borracho brisket. For lunch service every Friday, the folks at Sammy's let the briskets cool out in red wine before they smoke them. It's a flavor combination I've not enjoyed since the last time I had my mother's London broil.
And that's what popped into my head when I took my first bite. Those rich, fruity tannic flavors of a red wine reduction evoked memories of tough, leathery meat that was beyond bone dry (sorry, Mom). Except this meat was far from dry. It was fatty and soft, with barely enough texture to hold together in a slice. I could have used a little more salt (I like a bark that bites) but judging briskets is hard business — two are rarely alike.
The line is a testament to the goodness of any brisket, and Sammy's snaked through half the dining room while I waited for my lunch. If you work in the area and you're interested in barbecue, you can walk to give Sammy's a shot.