Wednesday, August 31, 2011
BORGER: Old Sutphens BBQ
303 North Cedar
Borger, TX 79007
Open Tues-Thur 11-9, F-Sat 11-9:30, Sun 11-2
Not thirty minutes earlier the server at Dyer's in Pampa said she believed Dyer's was the only place around serving apricot puree with their barbecue. Within minutes of being seated at Sutphen's a plate of nearly identical ribs, cole slaw, potato salad, onion rings and, you guessed it, apricot puree was plopped down on our table. The three meat combos here are so large that they need three plates and a bowl just to contain all the food, and those plates made quite the racket in the dead quiet dining room. It was visibly uncomfortable for nearly every table to talk except the two kids jawing at each other about who would have more fun at Six Flags in their upcoming vacation.
Sutphen's began up the road in Phillips in 1950 before moving to this location in downtown Borger in 1963. It was run by Joey Sutphen into the late nineties where the joint received a place in Texas Monthly's Top 50 BBQ joints issue in 1997. The business was purchased in 2000 by the current owners, but they say they're sticking with tradition when it comes to the recipes. One of those recipes they should reconsider is the god-awful brisket. When it arrived chunked and sauced on the table I thought I'd get an unsauced version to go. When I unwrapped it at the car I realized this meat had been stewing in sauce and enjoying it naked was not an option. This brisket is little more than pot roast stewed in something like Woody's Cookin' Sauce, and it doesn't meet my definition of barbecue.
To my great relief, everything else on the plate was excellent. Ultra fresh and crisp slaw, well seasoned potato salad with chunks of dill pickle and perfectly crunchy golden onion rings came alongside some subtle pinto beans. Texas toast was grilled and buttery, and a dip into that apricot puree took it to another level. Chunks of pork had a hint of smoke and plenty of sweet rub and sauce. The meat was nicely tender and moist. The meaty St. Louis cut ribs were the best of the Panhandle trip. Good smoke wasn't overpowered by the sweet glaze, and the black pepper seasoning was the perfect counterpoint. The tenderness could have won some competitions, and there wasn't an uncleaned bone at the end of the meal. Now if only there were other joints around these parts that served this kind of food!
Posted by BBQ Snob at 8:51 AM
Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT