Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Review: Smoketown USA BBQ Louisville KY

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Smoketown USA BBQ

1153 Logan Street
Louisville, KY 40204

(502) 409-9180

Date of visit: 07/19/2009

Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 (casual)

Service: 5 out of 5

Food: 4.5 out of 5

Value: 5 out of 5

Overall: 4.6 out of 5

“I’m a Jewish, redneck, massage therapist,” I heard a strange man dressed in overalls say to my wife as I walked back into the restaurant.

That strange man turned out to be the owner, Eric Gould. Wait, that sounds bad, Eric really isn’t strange per se, just a bit different! This whole place is just a bit different and in a fun way.

There are two very interesting things about this restaurant that stand out.

First, it is housed in a pair of antebellum buildings that Eric and his wife Lynn bought in 2002. It’s a former grocery, feed & seed store, and a livery. They spent 5 years restoring it and in 2007 opened up the bbq restaurant Smoketown USA.

Second, the place is for sale. Well not the restaurant, but everything in it is. Smoketown USA is what happens when a BBQ Restaurant collides with E-bay! Lynn is an avid garage sale enthusiast and the place is stocked and decorated with a wide range of styles. So you can literally buy the chairs you are sitting on, the salt/pepper shakers on your table, or any of the wall decorations that catch you eye. It’s really a unique approach and fun.

Service is a major plus at Smoketown USA. What you see in the pictures on their website is what really goes on. Not only did our server visit us, so did another server, Eric and the pit master that day, David. They are all friendly and a bunch of cut ups. It felt like we were hanging out on a friends deck while they finished up getting dinner ready.

When David found out I was a BBQ enthusiast, I got a tour of the kitchen and more importantly the two wood fired smokers out back. They were loaded with chicken and rib tips at the time. He talked about each cooker, their good qualities, their hot spots and possible future modifications on one of them. We discussed our personal smokers at home, our preferences for cooking Q for ourselves, and I knew I was in for some authentic BBQ.

The online menu is limited compared to what you can really get. The daily chalkboard menu contains many more options. A bit unusual, this BBQ joint has actual valid vegetarian options, not just sides. Yeah, I know, it's like a vegetarian restaurant offering rare prime rib! Ok, it's not that drastic but still.

Alexis ordered the Cuban (a very liberal bbq spin on a Cuban that is) and mixed greens while I opted for the “Flintstone ribs” (HUGE BEEF RIBS), tex-mex pintos, mac n cheese, and jalapeno corn bread. While we were waiting for our meal, David brought out a sample of their off the menu “lamb stew” which was hearty and full of flavor.

The pintos, mac n cheese, and corn bread were all good. The mixed greens recommended by the server had that perfect mustardy bite you expect. I took a bite of Alexis’ Cuban and it was the best I’ve ever had.

But the highlight of the meal had to be the beef ribs. These things were huge, big, and ginormous. David told me they give them a simple rub of salt, pepper and just stay out of the way, letting the meat & smoke do their own magic. They had a crisp bark covering the smoke ring yet the meat melted in my mouth. They were like a chuck roast on a bone! And did I mention they were huge?!? (Excuse the crappy mobile phone pics)

I didn’t get to sample their ribs, butt or chicken because our order itself was so filling. But when we come back in fall, we’ll definitely check out the rest of the menu because what we had was so good.

If you find yourself in, near or around Louisville, do yourself a favor and check out Smoketown USA. It’s a great little BBQ joint! And I mean real BBQ.