If you had to picture the quintessential road side Barbecue joint, Pat’s Barbecue in Tyler, Texas would be the image that comes into your held. Nestled into the piney woods of East Texas along the side of a rural county highway, Pat’s has all the hole in the wall rustic charm that one looks for in a proper barbecue shack. Having been around since the 1970’s, the building itself is a charred icon to generations of smoked meat, as a charcoal patina stains the interior of the rickety screen clad structure. The screens were a welcome reprieve for us on a breezy fall afternoon as we squeezed into one of four tables in the smoky interior for a late Sunday lunch.


While the ambience and charm at Pat’s is among the top handful of barbecue places I have ever been, the food itself resides somewhere closer to average. The sausage, both spicy and regular, were standard fare and tasted accordingly. The ribs and brisket were better, both had decent texture and moistness, but lacked a real depth of smokiness and flavor. Pat’s does use an appropriate old style brick pit, so I’m not quite sure why they didn’t have the same depth of flavor as other traditional BBQ joints. Finally, unsolicited sauce is the unfortunate norm at Pat’s, and I had to firmly ask twice that no sauce adorn my vittles. Others in our party weren’t so fortunate…


In the end, Pat’s is still certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in East Texas cruising along I-20. The rustic ambience alone is certainly worth the visit, especially juxtaposed to some of the modern metal BBQ monstrosities that I have visited around the state. The barbecue, while not exceptional, still satisfies and is certainly preferable to anything else you’re likely to find along the highway.


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