By Danny Kourianos
I recently had the pleasure of eating lunch with Johnny Cash over a platter of some of the best-smoked meat you’ll find outside of Memphis. Now, part of that statement stretches the truth a bit. Yes, the ribs and brisket I sampled at Pat’s BBQ are some of best I’ve eaten. But Johnny Cash was not riding shotgun. Roby Kap, however, was channeling him during his regular Friday afternoon set in Howie’s Hall—Pat’s back room dining area.
Eating at Pat’s is a real down-home affair with wooden picnic tables filling the large industrial space, giving it an urban-chic-meets-southern-hospitality vibe. There are rolls of paper towels on the tables alongside squeeze bottles of barbecue sauce.
Now, this is where the arguments start for BBQ purists. Your tastes fall into one of two camps: wet or dry. I’m a dry fan myself, and that’s how Pat’s serves up their expertly-smoked ribs. The yellow bottle contains their house sauce which is a tangy, mustard-based concoction that goes great with pulled pork. The red bottle houses “sweet heat”—a zippier version of traditional, tomato-based barbecue sauce. But the true test of a pit master is how well his ‘cue holds up without the mask of sauce. And Pat’s delivers.
The first thing you notice about the brisket is the pink ring surrounding the edge of the meat. That’s what they call the smoke ring and for BBQ, it means the pit master has done his job. The ribs were perfectly moist but not falling off the bone—good for making sure there’s that bite.
People, this is a war between man and meat and that little bite off the bone represents the struggle. Barbecue shouldn’t come easy. It’s dirty, mean and messy and that’s why when Mr. Kap bellowed the chorus to the Soggy Bottom Boys’ “Man of Constant Sorrow,” I could relate. As my plate turned empty.
155 W. Commonwealth Ave. (2125 South)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Open for lunch Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.; dinner, Thursday from 4 – 9 p.m. and Friday from 4 – 10 p.m.; and Saturdays, noon – 10 p.m.