Chain-free cafeteria BBQ

Release Date: 2009-06-17

Snoga Bar-B-Cue BBQ is a story of what could have been. Hidden in the southeast side on Goliad Road, Snoga’s is just 1.5 miles from a different cafeteria-style barbecue restaurant on Bill Miller Lane. Yes, we’re talking about Bill Miller BBQ #1, the first of 69 Bill Miller locations. Snoga’s can’t claim to have “ … in 2001, sold 4.5 MILLION pounds of Brisket … ” or “ … used 2 MILLION POUNDS of sugar to sweeten iced tea.”1

Which isn’t a slight. In my opinion the two restaurants share more similarities than differences, for good or bad. Imagine if Fast Foodie were the characters Mortimer and Randolph from the classic Eddie Murphy film Trading Places. If through our omnipotent powers we could switch the two restaurants for a week, would people be able to taste the difference?

Like Bill Miller, Snoga’s offers a lot of food for relatively little money. One can order a variety of combo plates (meats plus sides) and none of them come close to $10. I opted for the barbecue chicken with corn and mashed potatoes. If only we had been in the presence of Dr. William Davis of St. Philips College, the inventor of instant mashed potatoes. Perhaps he could have offered his diagnosis of Snoga’s potatoes, because they definitely tasted instant. The corn was very straightforward. It didn’t exactly taste farm-fresh, either, but in fairness the pickup trucks aren’t parked outside because of the vegetables. As the billboards used to say, the West wasn’t won on salad.

Snoga’s barbecue sauce is an afterthought, but it brought some flavorful overtones to the chicken, which was clearly the highlight of the plate. We were happy to enjoy the dark parts because that’s where the flavor is. With our stomachs much heavier and our wallets only slightly lighter, we tried to digest the Snoga’s experience. Big trucks, big bellies, big cuts of meat — that’s the easy way to look at it. This isn’t gourmet dining, but it isn’t trying to be. For honest prices, one can eat a lot of food at Snoga’s, and for big families, that’s a priority. No promises on how sweet the tea is.

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