Into Shelley’s Belly: Sammy’s Bar-B-Q

Sammy’s ribs, sliced brisket and turkey (photos by Matthew Shelley)

I spent most of the weekend perfecting my brush flow, diminishing concentrics, and dancing with the spirit that moves through all things, so pardon any tiresome attitude with which I convey my most recent lunchtime excursion at Sammy’s Bar-B-Q.

I know most of you are familiar with Sammy’s. It’s been here a long time, and it’s no recluse. It’s a lunchtime institution for all walks: the suits, the boots, the scrubs, and the domestics. We all come to this open, brick palace of meat for all things barbecue. The cafeteria-style dining lends itself to the casual effort we all strive to allow ourselves in that short hour we take from the clock. There’s a festive patio, lots of sunlight, and plenty of space to stretch your belt. It’s a neighborly American powerhouse of smoked meats and backyard side dishes, and the clatter of dishes from the kitchen, the jubilant conversations of the diners, and the wooden comforts all wrap their arms around your waist, offering whatever level of squeeze you desire. You will certainly smell of Sammy’s meats and smoke after you leave, and that’s a good thing.

A sign, so you know where you are
Hometown touches (left); a salad (right)

We took two routes on the food: Meat madness and the vegetarian option. Park your speculations down the street; this place is vegetarian friendly. For that option, we choose the nicely bright, mixed green salad with a light vinaigrette, fried zucchini chips, and the famous Aunt Glenda’s Potato Casserole. It’s in the style of a loaded baked potato, which means it’s spread out and easy to devour. With skins, cheese, sour cream and all the fixin’s, the casserole is not to be missed. We salaciously devoured each bite and intervened only to insert one of the crunchy zucchini chips. They are filling and beautifully fried. With the unsweetened ice tea to wash it down, this vegetarian venture did not disappoint.

Fried zucchini chips and the Potato Casserole
The meat wagon BBQ plate: ribs, brisket, turkey, corn and beans

Now, onto the animal flesh. I went for the three meat platter with ribs, sliced brisket and turkey. All of them were savory, fulfilling bites of meaty divinity. The rib meat fell from its bone, the brisket broke apart at the slightest touch, and the turkey shined with tenderness and savory juices.  The plate jumped at my gitty bits. Sammy’s rich and hearty barbecue sauce, which is kept in warm water (to keep it at the perfect temperature), tops this divine dish. The corn on the cob and BBQ beans accompanied my plate with richness and simplicity. I am normally against white bread, but there is no better match inside these walls. Every finger was tearing, picking, pulling, dipping, or reaching for all the enchantments within my reach, and when it was finally over I barely remembered what year it was. I really didn’t care.

Meat – Ribs, Sliced brisket, and turkey
Opening accoutrements (left); BBQ sauce (right)
Corn on the cob and BBQ beans

Sammy’s is a place anyone can feel at home. The wide arms that open from the moment you approach invite all walks to enter and enjoy. It’s an institution for a good reason. It maintains its simplicity, quality of food, and service without trying to be anything over complicated or trend driven. Not much changes at Sammy’s, and that’s why they keep the seats filled with committed and loyal patrons eager and happy to pick up a tray, and then call out their meat orders to the smiling cooks behind the cafeteria counter. Let it loose, let it easily accept you; relax your precautions, as Sammy’s will certainly find your heart.