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Sam's Smokehouse

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One of the perks of working across the state is making so many great friends.  If they’re also crazy for barbecue, then you’ve really scored.  So it is with me, Tana Collins, and Andrew Brasfield.  I could so hang out with them all the time if we lived closer together.  Unfortunately, the best we currently do is work with each other infrequently.  But when we are on set together, it’s the absolute best time!

Last year we were planning a project that would take all of us to Fayette.  Tana interrupts the strategy session and says, “We have to eat at Sam’s Smokehouse.  It’s my favorite place in the entire state.”  Now Tana has eaten at some of my other favorite joints and she knows how to talk barbecue.  So does Andrew.  For her to say Sam’s is the best, then for Andrew to back her up, I had to take that seriously.

As a point of reference, if you’re interested in Sam’s you need to know what it’s close to.  NOTHING! 


Fayette is not on the way to anywhere from anywhere.  It would be the rare occasion where “stopping off in Fayette” is convenient.  To find yourself in Fayette, you would have to make Fayette your final destination.  It’s about an hour from Tuscaloosa and 40 minutes from Jasper, not exactly on the beaten path.  But I’m certain that once you’ve tried Sam’s Smokehouse, you’ll beat your own path to Fayette.

One big reason is they have one of the most unique things I’ve ever tasted.  With their pork they serve what I’ve been calling a golden sauce.  It is amazing!  I’m not sure what it is but it has a honey mustard personality.  It’s thick, slightly sweet, and finishes with a hit of spice.  There’s a bottle of this golden beauty on every table, so you can sauce your food freestyle.  Everything is packaged in a to-go box but there are a dozen or more tables for indoor dining.  That means the two little condiment containers of sauce in your box get to go home with you.  The only thing more I can say is that Sam’s golden sauce is one of my top ten items you gotta try.

The pork is honest-to-goodness, hand-pulled pork.  It’s juicy, has a soft texture, and has an easy chew.  Judging by the color and the way it glistens I’m guessing they finish cooking it by wrapping it in foil.  That technique renders out the fat while holding it in to maintain moisture and all that natural flavor.  The serving portion is huge and is sooooo satisfying.  That golden sauce poured over that delicate pork is some kind of pig magic!

Baked beans are my favorite side and Sam’s version is on point.  They’re sweetened with brown sugar which I enjoy better than a rich molasses or corn syrup.  They are so tender and meaty and the perfect companion to the pork.  The potato salad is made with red potatoes, which I love.  They hold together better than russets and I prefer the heartier texture over a super soft, smooth blend.  Unfortunately, I had to admire the potato salad from across my table.  You see, the first time I ate at Sam’s Smokehouse I had potato salad.  I wrote this review after my second visit, where I didn’t get potato salad.  I ordered mac n cheese, which was basically boiled pasta with a Velveeta type sauce poured over it.  I was surprised it was such a basic interpretation considering how creamy and flavorful the potato salad is.

There was one other really cool thing I noticed which can perhaps be contributed to being in a small town like Fayette.  The place was packed and people were coming and going for a solid hour.  I saw strangers share tables with no hesitation.  Patrons would also finish eating and leave quickly to make room for others.  It was such a considerate and friendly group, enjoying good food with friends they brought or with friends they made.  Good barbecue has that kind of power.

Bonus points for:

Order at the counter

Self-serve fountain drinks

Sauce on the table

TV with sports

Exceptional baked beans

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