Monday, August 29, 2011

Dyer's Bar-B-Que (Pampa)

PAMPA: Dyer's Bar-B-Que
US Hwy 60 W (at Price)
Pampa, TX 79065
Open M-Sat 11-9

It's rare that I wait seven hours into a road trip to grab some smoked meat, but that's a symptom of leaving Dallas several hours before sunrise, and of making the Texas Panhandle the day's destination. It was about noon when my friend Nick and I rolled into Pampa. It wasn't hard to spot the big red sign along the main drag through town which just screamed "We've been around here a while", and the interior decor reeks of 1967, their first year in business. Orders are taken at the table, and service was genuine. A three meat combo plate of brisket, ribs and pork tenderloin was on the table in minutes.

It was hard not to focus on the ramekin of orange goo on the plate. After consulting the staff we were told it was apricot preserves that were there for spreading on the Texas Toast. The toast was about an hour beyond its prime, so we just ate it straight. Thin and sweet with a hint of fruit, this would have been great on pancakes. A bland potato salad and a crispy lightly dressed slaw were no match for the fresh and crisp onion rings. A tempura like batter enveloped thick cuts onions that held up well to the hot oil. I wanted more.

The meats were similarly disparate in quality. While the pork tenderloin had decent smokiness, the cut was sawdust dry and needed some seasoning. Undercooked brisket was trimmed of fat too tightly resulting in dry meat with little flavor. It took a bit of effort to pull apart, and was less enjoyable than the pork. Large spare ribs saved the plate. The meat was tender and the fat was well rendered making for a nice moist rib. A peppery rub and sweet glaze added some good zip to the smoky ribs. We would come to learn that ribs and rings were a popular order in this part of the state for good reason.

Upon leaving we asked the hostess about the curiosity of apricot preserves. She said it was a tradition that was limited to Dyer's. This became more humorous after several stops in the day where we found identical menus and nearly identical preserves and onion rings across the Panhandle. It seems they have a style all their own that even they don't know about.

Rating **
Dyer's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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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.