BY: Mark Hancock
Everybody has one joint they swear is the best barbecue place ever. Sometimes it’s the meat, sometimes it’s the service and sometimes it’s the price.
Smokey’s BBQ is all three. Despite a slender, difficult-to-maneuver parking area that should be used as a defensive driving course, Smokey’s is worth the possible damage to your automobile. It’s hidden in a shopping strip along Portland Avenue, so keep your eyes open and follow the smell of hickory and pecan wood smoke. It wafts into your car about a block away.
The inside is unassuming, with a modest diner setting. And really, it’s the food, not the décor, that matters when it comes to food like this.
Some of the best barbecue places I’ve ever been to have been a couple of rickety picnic tables in an open lot next to barrel trash cans.
The laminated menu is small, concise and filled with barbecue variations. From slabs of ribs slow-cooked over hickory to catfish caught fresh at Fort Gibson, Smokey’s caters to everyone.
It features specialty burgers and sandwiches and plenty of make-your-own-dinner options, as well as salads and potatoes made in every unhealthy way. Plus, it’s all so affordable that I asked if it was a typo.
I wanted to try something that I felt captured the spirit of Smokey’s, so I decided on its emboldened signature sandwich, The Outlaw, aka “Smokey’s Triple Decker Sandwich,” with pulled pork, brisket and hot links served on a hoagie roll. This way, I would taste everything in a compact sandwich.
Outlaw is served with two sides — I picked homemade potato chips and
seasoned green beans — for $7.50. Even if the food was terrible, I’d
still walk away with a smile based on the price.
the food wasn’t terrible. Far from it. The sandwich was everything
great about barbecue. It was packed with juicy, flavorful meats, each
one different from the next but complementing each other. The tang of
the pulled pork counteracting with the heat of the hot links, mingling
delicately with the smokiness of the brisket… Let’s say there was a
juke-joint hoedown in my mouth. I might have had the best sandwich of my
life. I’ll go back two or three more times this week to make sure.
for the sides, the homemade potato chips were crispy, crunchy and not
at all greasy, these were what chips should taste like — not to mention
even that couldn’t prepare me for the seasoned green beans, which were
nothing short of an absolute revelation. Sautéed with onions and spices —
also made-to-order — I’ve never had green beans like this. I don’t
think I’ll ever want them any other way. If you offer me green beans at
your next dinner party, and I throw them on the floor in disgust, now
you’ll know why.
In a city filled with countless barbecue eateries, all proclaiming to have the best, Smokey’s quietly is.