Smoke House BBQ ~ Classy, Original & Delicious
After a perfect Labor Day watching the Gwinnett Braves win their final game of the season — and their final game as the G-Braves — I continued my all-American holiday with a sunset cruise on my motorcycle. I didn’t plan on stopping at Smoke House BBQ for dinner, but I’m glad I did. It was classy, original and delicious.
Smoke House BBQ & Catering is located kitty-corner from Blackshear Place Baptist Church at the intersection of Atlanta Highway and Mundy Mill Road — which is also known as Winder Highway and GA Route 53.
It’s in that weird triangle of towns, where some sections actually belong to Flowery Branch (which is miles away) but we call it Oakwood (which is also miles away), although it’s really in Gainesville. Or maybe not. I give up.
This delightful restaurant is down the road from the school that has changed names so many times that it’s probably in the Witness Protection Program.
As with most schools in South Hall (have you noticed they’re not called schools anymore?), the new title of the educational institution at the corner of Atlanta Highway and Poplar Springs Road is probably the Einstein Lyceum of Knowledge, Science, Arts & Crafts.
Before being reconstructed not long ago, Smoke House was housed in what looked like a screened-in shed.
Now, it looks clean, fancy, sharp and open for business.
One thing is certain: Smoke House BBQ is a smart choice for a good meal. No, you won’t find a poster of Dirty Harry on the wall. It’s not uncomfortably spotless, it’s just clean and bright. Dine indoors or at the outdoor section.
What struck me first was how truly friendly everyone behind the counters seemed to be. They were all business — but they were having fun. At work.
Years ago, I had friends who were in a rather fancy band that scored an “Artists in Residence” gig at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Great musicians … but they each played their own instruments, as compared to making music together.
The staff at Smoke House makes music together and they serve terrific food. Happily. I like that.
Please Note: As usual, I dropped in unannounced. No one asked me to write a review. I paid for my meal and left a tip. What I experienced is what I believe you can expect when you visit.
Another thing I appreciated was how they offered tastes of the items on their menu. Just a sample that made my choice easier and made me glad that I got something that I knew I would like.
Take the coleslaw, for example. If you can mix cabbage and carrots, you’re almost there. Add spices and figure out how much vinegar, sour cream and mayonnaise you want … and voila! Once you get past the rookie basics, there are lots of ways to add your own touch.
That’s where the almost-ancient recipe of the lady of the house — Wayne Vaughan — comes into the picture. This Southern belle makes coleslaw that way it’s been done in her family for generations.
Miss Wayne’s had a decidedly cabbage-y flavor (surprise!) in a finely chopped helping that is unlike any I remember having before. You can go anywhere and purchase pre-made food delivered to a restaurant in a giant can or tub. This was unique.
My mom’s was better. Miss Wayne’s was terrific.
Thanks to Kimberly and Tayler, I had the pulled-pork plate.
I probably should have had the mouth-watering Brunswick stew. Yes, I had a sample. Delicious, with fresh corn and just enough sauce. Instead, I went for the potato salad as my second side-dish. Again, a unique recipe. It wasn’t mashed or schmoochy potato salad. The spuds had character and needed nibbling. Spiced just right and as tasty as can be.
Plenty of folks need to watch their salt intake. BBQ might be the last low-salt meal you might think of … but the food was not too salty, in my opinion.
After a doctor raged at me 30-years ago during a physical, I stopped adding salt to my food — with the rare exception of popcorn.
To diners who might prefer to have a salt-lick at their table for every meal, the food is wonderfully spiced. Not bland and not a meal you will need to wash down with a hose. If you are on a salt-restricted diet, ask for a tasty sample when you visit. See for yourself.
Yes, they serve outstanding banana pudding. No, they don’t serve french fries. Yes, they have giant portions of BBQ ribs. Pretty much everything is available by the pound, except for their sauces, which are sold by the bottle. Hint: Try the Sweet Heat!
Ladies will love Smoke House BBQ. In fact, true Southern women should choose to have their next Fancy Southern Mamas’ BBQ Lovers & Book Club meeting in the lovely dining area with a zillion cookbooks on the bookshelf.
Seriously. This is the place for good food and conversation over sweet tea and incredible macaroni & cheese.
Can’t gather your entire family and get them to meet you at Smoke House? Pffft. No problem.
They cater! They will come to you — with all the fixin’s — hither and/or yon.
Visit Smoke House BBQ & Catering for unusually good food made and served by unusually friendly folks.
Smoke House BBQ & Catering
- 3205 Atlanta Highway
- Gainesville, GA 30507
- Phone: 770-536-7971
- Smoke House BBQ on Facebook