Let me just cut to the chase here. Get out your calendars. Pick a day. Write these words: “Go to Three Sams and eat peanut butter pie.” Then, make this happen.

Now, let me back up just a bit.


Three Sams is a popular barbecue joint located in Mabelvale. It’s not quite as old as it’s ancient exterior makes it appear to be, but it’s been around long enough to gain quite a reputation in these parts for solid working man’s fare and honest, affordable lunches. It’s easy to find Three Sams, really—there aren’t too many similarly converted houses in this town with plumes of intoxicating meat smoke billowing from their back porches. Recently I joined a group of friends for lunch, making this my first time at the barbecue joint.

To say that portions are generous at Three Sams is a grave understatement—these are nothing short of colossal. But brush aside all your moral judgments and social commentary on excess in the American diet and just eat your food. You don’t have to eat it all—take some home. You’ll likely have leftovers for a week.


Most of my companions ordered barbecue. And so, shortly after we sat down, heaping plates of pork and sauce found themselves weighing down our table. Jaws dropped at the size of the meals soon to pass through their orifices, but all were smiling. I think most enjoyed their ‘cue—they enjoyed it enough to forget to offer me a sample, and most mouths were quiet and dripping with sauce for at least a solid 20 minutes.

The loaded foot long at Three Sams

  • The loaded foot long at Three Sams

But barbecue was not on the menu for me that day. You see, I’ve a friend — who I’m fairly certain has a death wish for me — who has been hounding me for months about this “legendary” chili dog…excuse me, a “foot-long loaded chili cheese dog.” Never one to turn down a challenge, I ordered up and soon found myself behind one of the most gargantuan masses of tubed meat and chili humankind will bear witness to. Ladles of meaty, red chili (few beans, mostly beef—the way I prefer it), a fat, flavorful hot dog with a circumference roughly the size of my arm (slight exaggeration), cheese, onion, mustard, jalapeños, and slaw. The side of Lay’s chips on the plate seemed be laughing at me as I scanned over my plate. But I ate through my doubt and fear and came out victorious. It was a good dog, I loved the chili. I probably would have left the slaw off, as it was a bit watery and not needed. And the chips were Lay’s — nothing special. I’d highly encourage you (if your stomach can bear it) to sub out for their fabulous, golden brown onion rings.


Peanut butter pie at Three Sams

  • Peanut butter pie at Three Sams

Which brings me to the pie. What a beautiful slice she was. It’s a chilled pie with thick and cool peanut butter mousse topped with crunchy roasted peanut halves and chopped peanut butter cups. It manages to feel dense and light at the same time, salty and sweet, smooth and crunchy — it’s altogether a blissful eating experience. This was, beyond all doubt, the highlight of everyone’s meal that day. This pie overshadowed pig, potato, and everything else on that table. This is why you must to make a trip to Mabelvale…soon.

Three Sams BBQ is located at 10508 Mann Road, Mabelvale. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 pm. Wednesday through Friday.

Pork sandwich and ribs plate at Three Sams

  • Pork sandwich and ribs plate at Three Sams