What Makes a Great Barbecue Restaurant?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
great BBQ restaurant in Amarillo, Texas

Think about your favorite barbecue spot. It might be a little janky hole in the wall place on the far side of town. Or a swanky eatery downtown that features an eclectic menu and tasty mixed drinks. It could even be a locally owned family restaurant with a classic, no-frills selection of “da*n good” BBQ plates. Whatever incarnation your favorite BBQ place is, ask yourself this: What helped it earn that top slot in your heart? 

Barbecue is a fine art of slow-and-low that come in several regional styles. A restaurant with a good reputation for their barbeque tend to have their own unique style of preparing their meat that set them apart from the crowd. Here at Dyer’s, for example, it’s our combination of our wildly popular sauce served along with our classic Texas-style smoked meat. But, regardless of what their hallmark may be, there are several things that all good barbecue restaurants have in common. Here’s what to look for when trying a new BBQ joint. Who knows? It just might become a new favorite!

All The Classic Side Dishes Are On The Menu

There are many ways to do barbeque. There’s a little bit of an adventure and fun in trying new BBQ fusion dishes, or to sample any other new twist on smoked meat. But that’s no reason for a restaurant to leave the classic BBQ dishes off the menu. A good barbecue joint knows that their customers are there for ‘the real deal’ and will almost always have tried and true dishes on the menu to order. 

Hush puppies should have just the right amount of greasy goodness to them (walk away from the table if they taste sweet like cake). Creamy mashed potatoes, fresh and crispy coleslaw, and all the other classic sides are permanent fixtures for a true blue barbecue joint.

There’s Just Enough Sauce

The beauty of smoked meat is in the meat itself. As it’s cooked slowly over low heat, the wood smoke is what permeates the meat and gives BBQ its savory and mouth-watering flavor. There’s no reason to ruin this kind of perfection by drowning it in sauce. 

While it’s true that most of the regional styles of BBQ feature their variety of sauce, the key word is “feature”. Whether the meat is served wet or dry, there is always a finesse in using the right amount of sauce. Sauce should always serve to highlight and accentuate the meat’s flavor, rather than overwhelm it. If there’s too much sauce with your dish, ask yourself what the cook is hiding.

It’s All In the Meatribs steak meat

Good BBQ means excellent flavor and quality cuts of meat that are prepared in just the right way. Here’s a few indicators of meat prepared by a kitchen of true barbeque pit masters.

  • Ribs: your ribs should be caramelized on the outside with tender meat inside (a pink tint is fine). Whether you like your ribs wet or dry, you’ll want your meat to be tender, yet still on the bone. If meat is falling off the bone before you can take a bite, it’s a sign that they’re overcooked.
  • Pulled Pork: Your dish of pulled pork should absolutely not be mushy. Tender meat that is not too soft is the sign of meat that has been well prepared.
  • Brisket: Brisket is a challenge. The grain of the meat run in opposing directions, which means it’s a tricky process to prepare it to consistent tenderness. The surefire way to tell if the brisket has been done right is to test the elasticity of the meat with a few pulls. If it gives just a bit, you’re in for a dish prepared by a true pit master.

Where There’s Smoke There’s Great BBQ

When you walk into the place, do you see or smell the smoker? Then you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re eating freshly prepared meat. Even if you can’t see it (some pit masters like to squirrel away their smoker in the back of the house), you should be able to smell the fragrant wood smoke in a quality BBQ spot. In fact, here at Dyer’s you can see one of our cookers outside!


Dyer’s Bar-B-Que offers casual family dining along with incredible Catering services in Amarillo, Texas. Contact Us if you have questions. Take a look at our Menu options, learn more about our Big Bear Saloon, or see what’s in our store! Dyer’s BBQ is located at 1619 S. Kentucky E #526 I-40 and Georgia at the Wellington Square Shopping Center in Amarillo.