Sam Taylor’s Bar-B-Q

The worst thing about barbecue is waiting for it. I hit Sam Taylor's Bar-B-Q during a shift change last week, and I had to wait fifteen whole minutes -- which is about fourteen whole minutes longer than I'm comfortable waiting for anything. I have what you might call an impulse-control problem and zero patience besides, so those 900 seconds spent sitting at the small bar in the back of the room smelling barbecue but not eating barbecue were torture. Granted, I had a cold beer to keep me company. And Bessie Smith on the radio. And a football game on the big TV. But still, it was rough. And it got worse once I grabbed my bag of takeout, because Sam Taylor's does its barbecue wet -- slathered in a thick, sticky, gloss-black sauce, a Tennessee-meets-K.C. riff that packs both heat and sweet -- and you can't drive and eat wet barbecue at the same time. (Well, not without seriously compromising the resale value of your ride.) So there I was, half-crazed with hunger, stuck in traffic, with a brown paper bag full of unbelievable smells beside me. The second I got home, I started devouring the contents of that bag: smoky, sticky, gigantic pork ribs (not too deeply smoked, but touched with a good rub); an excellent pork sandwich ("poke sammich," according to the menu) on a grilled roll that had the perfect proportion of meat to sauce; a decent brisket sandwich that was a little dry but powerfully smoky; awful steam-table mac-and-cheese; vinegary and mustardy potato salad; and Sam Taylor's homemade potato chips, which -- unlike most store-bought chips and even most restaurant chips -- actually tasted like potatoes. Burned potatoes, mostly, but that was still an improvement. And when I'd eaten so much I was ready to burst, I still had plenty of food left. Sam's portions are big, the prices reasonable and the service friendly. The dining room isn't much -- but if I'd eaten in, I wouldn't have had to wait so long to try his excellent Texas/Memphis 'cue.

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