What’s in a name? One company has famously advertised its products by claiming: “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good.” Of course, they had an excuse for using that name in the first place; it belonged to the founder.
Now, if we were starting a restaurant, we would probably not call it Suckers, especially since that isn’t our name. So, when we heard about Suckers Grill-Market-Smokehouse, that old slogan came to mind. And, yes, it’s good.
Barbecue restaurants aren’t generally places to expect things like creativity and presentation, but this unconventionally named establishment breaks the mold in those areas, too. Suckers has plenty of tried-and-true items, but there are several interesting twists.
Beginning with the suckers. No, these are not candies. Rather, they are meat-on-a-stick items that, we assume, explains the choice of the company name. They come in chicken, pork or sausage with a variety of cooking methods and condiments.
We really liked three chicken suckers ($6.99 with one side dish, $7.99 with two sides). We ordered them grilled instead of fried, and received three pieces of skinless breast meat that was flavorfully marinated and accented with red onions sliced paper thin and green onion tops, which added both visual appeal and flavor. The meat was quite good, but we couldn’t resist partaking of the peppery dipping sauce.
The creativity factor doesn’t end with Suckers’ suckers. We’ve heard of ribs that are smoked or grilled. But batter fried? That’s the first item on the starters part of the menu, and the fried rib basket ($6.99) was quite the treat. The four ribs were juicy and tender underneath a flavorful batter. They had plenty of taste, but the jellylike fig and raspberry sauce tasted great on them.
The St. Louis ribs ($7.99 for four, $11.99 for half-slab, $22.99 for slab) were good and meaty, as they should be, and coated with the restaurant’s sweet-and-spicy sauce, which we supplemented with the bottle at the table. Suckers has three sauces - the second is vinegar-based, the other is honey-mustard - and it’s nice to have the options, because different sauces work better on different barbecue orders. More on that later.
The chopped brisket plate ($7.99) has a smoky flavor and, like the chicken suckers, was garnished with red and green onions. We thought this also worked very well with the sweet-and-spicy sauce.
On the two-meat combo ($9.99), we went with chicken and pulled pork and were pleased with both. One pleasant surprise was visual. We don’t usually expect presentation to be part of a meal served with plastic utensils, but our meats were accented with slivers of red onion and green onion tops, which added visual appeal as well as a touch of extra flavor, both of which we enjoyed.
The chicken was moist and good; the pulled pork was moist and OK, but this gave us a chance to experiment with the three barbecue sauce flavors at our table. The vinegar-based sauce did a great job giving extra kick to the pulled pork.
Of the side dishes we sampled, a couple stood out. The potato salad is accented with mustard and was quite pleasing. The side of garlic cheese grits was also tasty with plenty of garlic flavor.
For dessert, we sampled the white chocolate bread pudding ($2.99), which was thick and hot and sweet and rich, and the key lime pie ($3.99), which was sweet but needed more tartness.
Tucked on the north side of the strip mall on College Drive between the railroad track and the drainage canal, Suckers isn’t the easiest place to find, but those who find it are rewarded.