Evening restaurant review
Overall: First class
Food: Just one more rib please
Ambiance: Down home
Service: Practically self-serve
Sometimes these reviews write themselves. When you find a restaurant serving excellent food in a relaxing enjoyable environment, the words come together on their own. Pat’s Barbecue is one such example. Over the last few weeks, I have heard nothing but praise about Pat’s BBQ. From friends and site visitors alike, it sounded like something special was afoot. To get a proper feel for the place I invited two BBQ-loving friends along for the meal.
We arrived at Pat’s unusual location around 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening; outside the restaurant, groups of people were already milling around. Pat’s is very popular it would seem. The restaurant is located on a small road off West Temple and 2100 South. The surrounding area is full of industrial buildings making for an unusual setting. Indeed Pat’s itself is located in a former warehouse unit. This is especially telling when you first enter. Stepping inside the restaurant is initially a little confusing with an array of corridors and rooms. We followed our noses and found the main dining room with little effort.
The main dining room was already hopping with a mixed crowd, young, old, families, even people dining solo. All were cosily hunkered together in the comfortable looking space. Seating was comprised of yard-style communal benches, indeed the atmosphere of the room in general was that of a family gathering. The tables were topped with self-serve napkin rolls, plastic knife and fork sets and two sauces, a spicy red (sweet heat) and milder yellow house sauce. At one end of the room a stage slotted smoothly in. We noted band getting ready to play.
As we surveyed the room slightly confused by how to proceed, a server walked by and pointed us to a free space on a bench by the stage area. He also pointed us to a stack of menus, we grabbed one each and walked in. Pat’s doesn’t have menus in the traditional sense, instead they use their take out paper menus as the restaurant menu as well. With the plastic knives and forks, paper menus, and communal seating, Pats is far from fancy; that being said, the atmosphere was exceedingly comfortable and the ambiance just right.
As we took our seats, our server briefly informed us that to sit in the main room and catch the evening’s performance, there would be a $5 cover charge for each of us. A little on the pricey side I thought, but we were here for the full Pat’s experience so we were happy enough. I should note that if you don’t savor the energy (or possible cover charge) of the main room, a separate quieter dining space is available on one side of the building.
This evenings the act was the Free Range Chickens, a fun Bluegrass ensemble:
While the band started to play we eagerly reviewed the menu. Pat’s features the standard fare you would expect of any decent BBQ joint. The basic items on offer are pork ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket and chicken. These are available individually, as part of mixed platters, or on sandwiches. Pat’s also features nightly specials, of which, the “Burnt Ends” offered on Friday evenings seemed most intriguing.
As we all wanted to try as much as possible, the “3 Meat Combo” was the universal choice. The Three Meat Combo ($13.00) features one side, cornbread, and three meats from the four choices. The following were each of our choices:
2 Pork ribs, 1 piece Chicken, 2 slices Beef brisket, Meaty Gravy (Side):
1 piece Chicken, 2 slices Beef Brisket, 4 oz Pulled Pork, Creole Black Beans And Rice (side):
2 Pork ribs, 4 oz pulled pork, 2 slices Beef brisket, Creole Black Beans And Rice (side):
The food and drinks came quickly and were served in the same relaxed style of the restaurant itself. Food came on plastic plates and beer in plastic cups. I should also mention, booze wide, Pat’s serves only beer from what I could tell. We all went for the 16 oz Uinta draft (Cut throat) at a reasonable $3.25.
It took only a few bites and mere seconds before we started shooting glances at one another; this was seriously good food. The consensus between the three of us was that this BBQ was considerably juicer than any of us had experienced before in SLC. One of the comments I recall being made was “I’ve never used a plastic knife to cut beef before, here it just goes through like butter!”, a perfect example of the tender quality of the meat.
The pulled pork was tender and moist Chicken fell from the bone with next to no encouragement. The ribs were deemed excellent by all, including one friend who isn’t usually a rib fan. The brisket was also beautifully tender. It goes without saying all the items possessed a wonderful smoky flavor.
Also worthy of note were the side dishes. The creole beans and rice were a surprising hit, featuring generous lumps of spicy sausage. The meaty gravy was a hearty mix of pulled pork, onions and peppers. It was pleasing to see that the side dishes were not an afterthought as they can be elsewhere. For reference, Pat’s Barbecue has all the standard side options like potato salad, beans, mashed potatoes and more. For an extra $0.50 you can also choose Jambalaya.
As we devoured the delicious meats, we took in the great Bluegrass music and chatted to fellow diners. After only an hour in Pat’s, it felt as if we had been customers for years, the whole place oozed an inclusive welcoming vibe. As we finished off our meals, queues of people started to build by the entrance to the room, taking the music in while waiting for a table to become free. As we stood to leave the room I glanced around. I noticed it was busier than it had been all night. As such, I would recommend you arrive early or expect to wait on weekend evenings.
Paying the bill required a walk back to the front of the building with the check. We were directed to the cashier room which doubled as the place to collect take out orders. The cashier desk this night was manned by Pat himself, who seemed flat out busy coordinating take outs, manning the phone, and running the cashiers station. He may have been busy as heck, but he was friendly nonetheless. I’d bet the restaurant’s vibe and fun atmosphere are extensions of the man himself.
I haven’t really commented on service, because to put it frankly, there wasn’t much. We spoke to our server three times, once to ask where to sit, once to place our order, and once to get the cheque. That wasn’t a bad thing at all. Pat’s is the kind of place where if you need more BBQ sauce, you lean over to your neighbor and politely ask to share theirs. I’d imagine if we hung out and watched the whole show while having another beer, we would have have had to go and hunt our server down to place another beer order.
In summary, Pat’s Barbecue was the best BBQ I have experienced here in SLC, the same goes for my two dining companions; one of whom has already arranged to take 8 family members back to Pat’s this weekend. If that’s not a resounding recommendation, I don’t know what is. Next time you get a hankering for great BBQ, give Pat’s a whirl.
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.