November 24…Small Business Saturday. Of course, Chattanooga small businesses are concentrated in the downtown area. We headed down there to meet one of the owners of Dish T’Pass Cooking School and Catering Co. (more info coming soon!) and check out some things at Mia Cucina. Downtown Chattanooga is chock-full of great restaurants…we decided to hit up Sugar’s on Broad Street today.
There were not a ton of people in for lunch when we were there. Our server was with us quickly with a carafe of water for the table. She suggested some queso and tomatillo salsa as an appetizer, which we were more than happy to order. The white cheese queso dip was delicious, thick and creamy and with just a tiny bit of salsa stirred in. We were wondering if the recipe was the same as the Boat House, which is owned by the same group as Sugar’s….we really liked their’s too. The roasted tomatillo salsa was also wonderful, not too spicy and salted just right. You know I’m a stickler for just the right amount of salt. The chips were thick and hot and also salted just right.
All of the menu items at Sugar’s are served a la carte, with meat selections of smoked butt, smoked chicken, smoked brisket, BBQ legs, and hot legs. There was also fajita BBQ that I think was pork but I can’t remember for sure….it isn’t listed on the menu online. They serve regular-sized and mini sandwiches, tacos, and “servings” of meat served with a cornbread muffin. I decided on a pulled pork taco (with cabbage, radishes, cilantro, queso fresco, and grilled sweet onion with a side of tomatillo salsa and margarita sauce, which was creamy, lime-y, and avocado-y) and a mini brisket sandwich, just brisket on a dry slider bun. There are six sauces on each table and the meat is not sauced prior to serving. I found that the pork and the brisket both had a healthy smoke flavor and were deliciously moist. Neither needed the sauce for flavor but I did add just a little bit of sauce to the taco and dipped my mini sandwich in a little bit of sauce. My favorite sauce was the Tennessee Sweet & Gloppy (though I also liked the mustard sauce). I also ordered the grilled okra, which, if you are like me and you are turned off by the slime that is often present in non-fried okra, you might be a little frightened of…but you shouldn’t be. It’s delicious, smoky, and not slimy at all.
Philip decided on the serving of brisket with vinegar slaw. The chunk of brisket was huge and tender and, again, perfectly smoky. Philip tried it with a couple of different sauces before declaring that, while he liked them both, he really thought that the meat stood alone without the sauce. In my opinion, smoked meat that doesn’t need sauce is the hallmark of great barbecue. The slaw was just plain chopped cabbage with a sweet vinegar dressing and Philip loved it, even declaring that he liked it better than Rib and Loin’s, which is really saying something…although, to be fair, theirs is mayo-based and Philip didn’t try their mayo-based slaw. The cornbread muffin was average, not really anything to write home about but not bad….definitely the only mediocre part of this experience.
Sugar’s also offers a salad, flatbreads (like pizzas), and a variety of desserts, like banana pudding and several pies, though we were way too full to sample any of them. They have an interesting atmosphere, darkly lit with a wall of records and a mural of musical icons. There was also a disco ball that a nearby toddler kept pointing out to her mother (“Ball! Look, ball!”) which we found hysterical. Our server was very friendly and helpful. We really enjoyed this Sugar’s experience and declared that it was one of our favorite (if not the favorite) barbecue places in Chattanooga. As I type this on Saturday evening, I can still faintly smell the smoke in my hair. That’s some good smoked meat!
Sugar’s Ribs is located at 507 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402 (as well as the original location at 2450 15th Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37404. You can call the downtown location at 423-508-8956 and the “Ridge Cut” location at 423-826-1199. Check out their website, http://sugarsribs.com. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.