Rating: 4 Opened: 2010 Pitmaster: Tyler Frazer, age 45 Method: Mesquite; indirect-heat pit Pro tip: The homemade green-chile-and-grilled-onion mac and cheese is served only on Thursdays.
Our first visit to Tyler’s Barbeque was a failure. The staff was friendly and the food was great, particularly the tender brisket with its peppery crust and subtle smoke ring, but we arrived too late to try the pork ribs, whose praises were being sung all over the High Plains. So we did what any true barbecue connoisseur would do: after consoling ourselves with the sausage (four kinds!) and drowning our sorrows in some tasty homemade beans, we resolved to come back early the next day. This turned out to be a wise decision. The ribs had a firm, toothsome crust, with a smoky flavor. They were fine without sauce, but a dab of the sweet, black-pepper-dotted concoction from the giant dispensary near the pickles helped give them a little kick (with a satisfyingly slow burn). You can be forgiven if you haven’t heard of this spot. Amarillo native Tyler Frazer opened it in May 2010, in an old Long John Silver’s just south of Interstate 40, and in just three years, he’s singlehandedly upgraded the reputation of Panhandle barbecue. Poke around the kitchen all you want, but you won’t find a microwave or a gas cooker or even a freezer, because everything is done from scratch. This is a guy who knows his stuff. He cooks on mesquite that he has brought in from Hall County, about one hundred miles away, because the soil is sandier and grows trees instead of scrub brush. There is, however, one modern convenience that Frazer embraces: follow him on Twitter @tylersbarbeque to know when items run out, and you’ll avoid the failure of our first visit.