Whenever a day of hiking to the Uintas’ high-mountain lakes or climbing rocks at Ruth Lake is complete, I make a customary stop at The Notch, an oaky pub in Samak, for a brew and a bite. I can’t not go; the hand-painted sign that reads “Pub Open” beckons.
I’m always faced with a dilemma, though. As a side note, I don’t like eating out by myself. It’s not a matter of needing company, but a matter of my indecisiveness. Typically, when I eat out, I can’t decide between two dishes. I wait until everyone else has ordered to make an oh-my-god-I-really-have-to-choose-now decision.
On The Notch’s menu, two items, above all others, feed this vicious cycle. There’s the half-pound tri-tip burger topped with house-smoked cheddar; the cheese, as well as everything else on the menu that’s smoked, is done so down the road at owners Jen Hisey and Dave Witham’s other establishment, Samak Smoke House. And then there’s the barbecue smoked pork; the menu says “pulled to perfection.” The waitress says most people have a hard time deciding, but the burger usually wins out.
Luckily, I’m with a hiking buddy, so we order both, splitting each down the middle. After one bite of burger—huge and pink in the middle, and the cheese to die for—I’m ready to double down on that. It’s certainly better than most you’ll get in Utah.
Then, one bite of the smoked pork, and I’m in flavor heaven. The pork is smoked for up to 12 hours over cherry wood, hand-pulled at The Notch, and smothered in housemade barbecue sauce. Another bite, and angels sing. There’s sauce running down my cheek, and it’s like my hands are glued to the housemade bun. The world melts away. What burger?
The Notch Pub
2392 E. Mirror Lake Highway, Samak