What do you do when a friend from up north visits you in Tennessee? You take him out for barbeque, of course.
Over the weekend Flash’s childhood buddy, Gary, came to Chattanooga for an impromptu visit on his way from New Jersey to Florida. He was starving after being in the car all day and asked about the local cuisine.
Flash didn’t hesitate to tell him Sugar’s Ribs had some of the best BBQ in town. We entered the tin-roofed restaurant that looks out on the Chattanooga valley at 6:30 p.m. There was a line to order at the counter and most the tables were full.
Gary, who wasn’t used to looking at a BBQ menu, let us order first to see how it worked. I changed it up from my regular pulled pork sandwich for the tacos combo, served with one spicy pork, one wood grilled chicken, and one smoked brisket taco ($10.95). As my side I chose the spicy vinegar slaw.
Flash copied my order, only he got a side of cornbread. Then Gary surprised us all by ordering the half slab of spare ribs with a side of okra ($15.95), and a BBQ pork butt sandwich ($8.75). He and Flash each got a bottled Fat Tire to drink. And, to our surprise again, when the cashier called out the grand total of $60, Gary stepped right in to pay for the whole thing.
He shrugged his shoulders. “When in Chattanooga.”
We got lucky because an elderly couple left their table by the window right as Flash, Gary, and I started looking for seats. Gary and Flash clinked their beers and reminisced about old times. I looked out the window to the sun setting over the hills of Chattanooga. The old-fashioned jukebox played upbeat tunes that made me want to get up and dance.
But everyone remained seated as the waitress set our food before us. “Ok, everyone dig in on the ribs,” Gary said. Flash and I hadn’t realized he bought them for the table.
The rib meat fell off the bone and nearly melted in my mouth. I turned to my tacos next. Each had been assembled to perfection with grilled sweet onion radish and roasted salsa that brought every bite to savory life. Flash said he liked the spicy pork one the best. I had a hard time choosing between that one and the brisket. Good thing I got to eat both.
Gary devoured his pork sandwich in a couple bites then finished off with some ribs. He said he wished he let his sandwich last longer, but it was just too good to put down.
I ate a cornbread muffin, warm and not too dry, to end my meal. All three of us had sticky hands and BBQ stained lips when it was all said and done. I probably went through 10 napkins.
It was dark out when we left. The city below had its thousand of night lights turned on. Gary said he would probably come back to Sugar’s when he headed out of Chattanooga the next day to get a pork sandwich for the road.
Location: 2450 15th Avenue
Hours: Sun – Th 11am to 9pm
Fri – Sat 11am to 10pm