South Florida is not exactly known for good barbecue, but I got word from , the Chowhound guru for South Florida, that there was a good place, Smoke BBQ, in Delray Beach. It was barely 29 miles from where we were staying on Singer Island, so the eight of us piled into cars and headed south for lunch.
Smoke BBQ is on Atlantic Avenue, which is a wonderful place: a boulevard flanked by restaurants open to the forgiving elements. A note of caution: if you google “Smoke BBQ Delray” and click on the Google Map that comes up, you will see a blurb describes Smoke as “Modern Asian dining in a snazzy setting.” It must refer to a previous restaurant at that location. Smoke BBQ offers no modern Asian food and the decor cannot rationally be described as snazzy. The decor and staff outfits were as one would expect.
Smoke has two dimensions: a sports bar interior with lots of TVs and outdoor seating on the street and on a side patio. We chose the street side which offered good people-watching.
Smoke cooks with Old Hickory Smokers, of which they are very proud, and which they have used with success in competitions.
The Old Hickory uses gas and has a small firebox for chucks of wood, and it cooks with a convection effect. It seems to be about as good as any of the gas- or electricity-powered smokers. But isn’t a pit, alas. (And I guess that’s tilapia in the tub on the right.)
I shared a combination plate with Nancy – ribs, brisket and turkey with a side of cole slaw and a piece of cornbread. It was a whole lot of food, more than enough for two.
The ribs were the highlight. They had a smoke flavor and a good texture – just the right resistance, and the bark was as good as you can expect from a box smoker. The brisket was pretty good, nice and fatty, but tasted like it had been off the grill for a while. The turkey was good, but just a little less moist that smoked turkey usually is. The State Fair Winning Cole Slaw was average and the cornbread was way too sweet and had a mushy texture with no crust. It definitely had never been near cast iron. Go with he macaroni and cheese as a side. It’s real, honest to goodness macaroni and cheese, and you deserve it. Or try the potato salad with jalapeños and cilantro. I would have ordered an extra side, but there are limits.
Except for one cajun boiled shrimp order, everyone else got the Carolina pork sandwich, which looked good. It had a fine chop and a some bark mixed in. Someone offered me a taste but I was working on the ribs and couldn’t answer. Everyone was pleased with the sandwiches. And we had brussels sprout two ways – steamed and fried – for the table. The fried version was not battered, thank goodness, and it was fried well. It was better than the steamed.
I don’t know if I’d make the long drive from Singer Island again, but I would definitely go back to Smoke if I were staying in or near Delray Beach. And and I may be. It’s a lovely place, and Smoke has some good food and a great outdoor setting – the perfect place to eat with good company on a sunny November afternoon.