Evening restaurant review
Taking guests from out of town out to dinner can be fraught with danger. Where exactly do you go? The onus is on you, as the local expert, to provide the options. Naturally, you want somewhere dependable; when recommending a dish to a guest you need maximum trust in the kitchen. The list of mandates can grow inexorably, the restaurant needs to be something everyone will like, maybe somewhere in everyone’s price range, what about something locally defining? It can be a complex business.
Right now, we have friends over from England. Faced with the aforementioned puzzlers late last week, Sugarhouse Barbeque sprung to mind. What better way to introduce visitors from overseas to good ol’ BBQ food? An American classic which isn’t a burger and fries.
Sugarhouse Barbeque is a veteran Salt Lake restaurant, opening in 1996. Over the years, the name has changed and the restaurant has grown in size. What remains consistent, in my opinion, is the food. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no BBQ expert. I’m not even American; I wasn’t born with that innate sense for BBQ. But, I figure I’ve eaten my way through enough BBQ over the past several years to give the nod to decent or poor.
The menu at Sugarhouse Barbeque effectively comes down to plates of meat or a selection of sandwiches based on the same. Should you go for a plate, you also get two sides, sandwiches come with just the one. Sides include BBQ beans, chips, steamed veg, roasted spuds, mashed spuds, cucumber salad and cornbread stuffing.
On our recent trip, we sampled quite a selection of the menu. I opted for the Sugarhouse Smoked Platter ($11.99) with BBQ beans and potato salad. The platter offers a choice of slow-smoked beef brisket, pulled pork, or turkey. You can also order half & half, which, during this visit, is exactly what I did. I chose the brisket and turkey:
Wendi chose a little differently, making an ad-hoc salad of sorts. A Friday night special is the Jerk Chicken Sandwich ($6.99), which she ejected the bun from and added a green salad ($2.00):
I had to steal some of the jerk chicken for myself as well. Sweet and spicy it’s a nice change from the smoky meats I normally devour at Sugarhouse Barbeque. It’s a shame it is only available on certain nights; not to mention be sure to get in early as it tends to run out quickly.
My brother went for the Chicken & Ribs (noted on the menu as the “All-Time Favorite”). 1/3 rack baby back ribs, 1/4 Dixie chicken, beans and mash ($12.49):
Finally, our other guest went with a simple 1/2 rack of baby back ribs, beans and mash ($13.49):
Each main entree comes with a side of corn bread. In addition, Sugarhouse Barbeque’s four signature sauces are placed on the table. These include a hot sauce, mustard sauce, vinegary sauce and a standard bbq sauce. In particular we love the hot sauce, going as far as to even buy some for our own home use in the past ($5.00).
As the food arrived, silence descended over the table as we all dug in. Appreciative mumbles from the table all around, the food as ever was spot on. Which is precisely why I find Sugarhouse Barbeque a no brainer when entertaining guests. There is something to be said for this level of dependability. The menu is broad enough to appeal to most everyone except vegetarians. The food is filling, tasty and the prices should suit just about anyone.
The restaurant is a simple and unpretentious space, the star here is the flavorsome food. The atmosphere can be lively on Friday and Saturdays but that’s no bad thing. Indeed the relaxed nature of the restaurant is yet another boon when entertaining. Add to that the always cheerful service and I don’t recall a time I haven’t left Sugarhouse Barbeque smiling and content.
Also worthy of note are their take-out and catering options, both of which I have used previously and can also happily endorse. Next time your in need of a quick fix of smoked meats, I’d heartily recommend Sugarhouse Barbeque.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic SLC and The Utah Review; I’m also a former restaurant critic of more than five years, working for the Salt Lake Tribune. I’ve worked extensively with other local publications from Utah Stories through to Salt Lake Magazine and Visit Salt Lake.
I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have covered the Utah dining scene for more than a decade. I’m largely fueled by Uinta Cutthroat, alliteration and the use of too many big words I don’t understand. I ate all the pies.