Sonny’s Smokehouse may be the quintessential small-town barbecue joint. Don’t even think about getting here by GPS; it won’t work. Don’t look for a flashy sign; there isn’t one, not even a hand-painted sign. The chances are that you’ll have to stop and ask someone where it is. That’s what I had to do, and that’s precisely the way that owner Sonny Strickland wants it.
I think it is obvious that Sonny’s is all about barbecue, but with a side attitude.
Sonny makes everything by hand, from scratch. He uses hickory for smoking, and it is locally harvested and split in his backyard. Many barbecue joints use an expensive gas-fired smoker with digital controls, but Sonny has an old-school smoker, and the only thing that burns in it is hickory.
You don’t have to hang out here long to see the steady stream of people lining up for delicious barbecue. Most are locals, but a few out-of-towners, like me, show up as well. This place has a serious reputation and has been growing since it opened 17 years ago.
Ask Sonny what his best-sellers are, and he will start with the steaks. Yup, you heard right. I was a bit dubious, but I have to admit, the certified black angus steak I sampled was one of the best I have ever had. Cooked medium-well, I was amazed that this steak was both juicy and perfectly crisp, as this is a challenging feat to achieve. This was steak perfection.
So, what else is good? Pulled pork, ribs, and briskets are the classics, and Sonny excels at all. There is a long list of sandwiches, plates, sides, steaks, shrimp, and amazing stuffed potatoes (they are huge). If you have a sweet tooth, the changing list of homemade desserts will be the cherry on top to your visit.
Sonny’s is a one-of-a-kind place, friendly, with huge portions, and reasonable prices. There is nothing fancy here, so come to eat, not to look, but it does have its special charm. Sonny Strickland may be a laid-back pit-master, but master he is.
936 MS-15, Ackerman
Open Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m
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