Several times over the past few years I have stopped by Sweet Score Yogurt and Donuts, which is located at the corner of Missouri Flat Road and Golden Circle Drive (across from Wal-Mart and next to McDonald’s). I love their donuts (especially the apple fritters) and the numerous flavors of yogurt and toppings ( the low fat ones).
A number of months ago they added barbecue, and installed a large smoker on their patio, so when you drive by you can sometimes smell the delicious and tempting aroma of fruit wood smoke and barbecue.
My friend Russ Salazar and I stopped by to try the barbecue last week and the owner, Michael Griffiths, treated us like kings, with a sample of everything their pit-master, Will, prepares.
This is Louisiana style barbecue, prepared by someone who used to spend six months cooking on Beale Street in New Orleans and six months cooking here, until deciding to stay here with his family. It is cooked over fruit wood and real charcoal (not briquettes), and in a few words, it is all tender and delicious.
We started with a sample of pulled pork, chicken, and brisket, along with sides of their five cheese mac and cheese, cole slaw and potato salad.
Salazar immediately headed for the mac and cheese, and said, “Savor the cheese. What ever cheeses they are using, they are a great combination.”
He followed that with a comment about the chicken. He says he doesn’t really like chicken (even when he cooks it himself), but immediately told me that this chicken was moist, nicely seasoned, had a nice flavor and, overall, was delicious.
I liked it for the same reasons, and, because the sauce, which you can get on the side, was not overpowering and the rub gave it a tiny bit of heat.
The pulled pork, which we usually don’t order when we meet for lunch, was moist and had a great flavor, with or without the sauce, which again, was not overpowering.
Their brisket was also “easy to cut with a plastic knife” tender and had a great flavor.
The cole slaw was crisp (mushy cole slaw is one of Salazar’s pet peeves) we thought was a bit overdressed, but the dressing was so good it didn’t matter.
The potato salad was magical. We spent several minutes trying to figure out what the unique flavors were in it, but then the owner, Griffiths, told us that the person who makes it uses a secret recipe. Salazar thought the potato chunks were a bit too big, but he always has to find fault with something (just kidding – he has a great palate).
We were then treated to a sample of the tri-tip, babyback ribs and hot links.
I love hot links and theirs were excellent. The ribs were top notch and pulled gently off the bone. The tri-tip, which is not usually my favorite cut of meat, was as tender and delicious as the brisket.
While we were waiting for Will to fix a batch of his baked beans, we were brought a sample of their “Friday seafood surprise,” which turned out that day to be kabobs of large shrimp, portabella mushroom chunks and sweet peppers.
Will cooks these on a gas grill, where he also does hamburgers (they have something for everyone).
Nicely seasoned and nicely done, the shrimp were tender and not overcooked and, along with the mushroom and peppers, were moist and delicious.
Again, while waiting for a sample of the beans, owner Griffith sat down to explain to us that, as much as possible, everything he serves or sells comes from a local source. For instance, he buys berries from Larsen in Camino, apples, peaches and strawberries from Harris Tree Farms and, although he bakes all the donuts, fritters and pies, he buys macaroons from Sugar Lilly bakery in El Dorado. “They are the best,” he says.
Finally we got a sample of the baked beans. Will makes them with sauteed onions and hamburger, which was a surprise. They were very good, full of flavor and meat.
I should explain the reason we had to wait for the beans. Will is very picky and cooks three times a day, in small batches (If you have ever had “old” reheated food at a barbecue restaurant before, you will understand why). This way he makes sure that everything you get is fresh and delicious. Therefore, they sometimes run out and you have to wait for more to be made, as was the case with the beans.
They cater and can cook a whole rack of ribs or anything else for your party or dinner with advance noticed.
This is a family run business that supports local school events (Griffiths is a local boy who went to Ponderosa) and more. They are wonderful and hard working people.
Sweet Score Yogurt, Donuts & BBQ is open from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. daily; barbecue is served Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. For more information call (530) 642-9644 or (916) 410-4653.
Oh, you can also get the barbecue as a sandwich on bread from Truckee Sourdough Bakery (my favorite).