Friday, January 4, 2013

Sam's Bar-B-Que (Midland)

MIDLAND: Sam's Bar-B-Que
1113 East Scharbauer Dr.
Midland, TX 79705
Open M-Sat 11-9

Direct heat cooking over wood coals is a style of Texas barbecue sometimes referred to as "West Texas Style" or "Cowboy Style", but I've rarely found it outside of the Hill Country. One joint in West Texas that does use this method is Sam's in Midland. Sam's once had a number of locations around Midland and Odessa, but many of them closed during the lean years in this West Texas boom/bust oil town. We were the only customers at the only remaining Midland location around 5:00 in the afternoon, so the pitmaster 'Stinky' was happy to show us around before our meal. He runs a big steel pit fueled by mesquite coals, and the meats are done in two batches per day to ensure freshness come dinner time.

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter
The results are brick red St. Louis ribs with a good inch of meat tinted pink by the smoke. It took a little effort for my teeth to remove meat from bone, but the fat was well rendered into the meat helping it remain moist. Brisket had some chew to it as well, but a surface well seasoned by salt and meat fat vapors from the hot coals made for a good meal. The mesquite flavor kissed the white meat chicken as well that remained moist under the high heat, but the flaccid skin wasn’t worth the calories. A rare homemade sausage in West Texas was right here at Sam’s and it wasn’t a typical Texas style link. The casing hadn’t crisped and still had some elasticity, but took little effort to bite through. The beef and pork mixture was ground coarsely and hadn’t been emulsified so it tumbled out of the casing when squeezed. A spice mixture more reminiscent of Chicago links had plenty of salt and sage like you’d expect from a breakfast link, but the addition of mesquite flavor made it a Texas link all the way. Sam's isn't perfect, but it's a lone bright spot out in West Texas where good barbecue is hard to come by.

Rating ****


Anonymous said...

Nice review, I didn't know there were still any Sam's left. I'll stop bye the next time I'm in town. KD's is usually the our go to stop in Midland. Did you eat there?

PM Summer said...

I drove by there a couple of years ago while visiting the wife's uncle, but I didn't stop. Uncle Dean said it was good though, but he wanted to take us to an Italian joint.

If we make it back to Midland this year for the West Texas Jazz Party, I'll be sure and drop in!


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.