The Paisano/ Anette Barraza
Paisano Plus Rating: 3.5/5
Enthusiasts of finely grilled meats don’t need to be skeptical about visiting the ostentatious Stone Oak neighborhood to get down on some ‘que.
Typically, the best smoke shacks are located on street corners of urban neighborhoods, right next to ballparks or on farm-to-market roads out in the country — certainly not around high-end shopping malls, premium coffee bars and sushi restaurants.
But the Smoke’s reputation has developed quite a buzz since its April 20th grand opening , receiving several five-star reviews on foodie websites OpenTable and Yelp!
The décor inside is rustic yet modern, like the inside of a luxurious barn house. The soundtrack matches the environment with tunes from classic southern rock like Credence Clearwater Revival to modern alternative rock like Foo Fighters. When there’s an important game on, the staff replaces the music with the broadcast’s audio.
The restaurant is spacious. The kitchen is open, so patrons can see the chefs work their craft and even converse with them. All of the employees are talkative and personal. There are about 20 different beers on tap, more than half of which are craft beers , and there are more options in cans and bottles. Their fairly large liquor selection lines wooden shelves, and pre-made cocktails like Texas Tea in large mason jars decorate the top shelf.
The menu, decorated with beer stains and pen doodles, features options such as “Dr. Pepper Pork Ribs, Shiner Bock Beer Brined Turkey, Guava Glazed Crispy Pig Tails, and Chilled Watermelon Soup,” among others.
The bartenders are excellent: they are eager to drop knowledge about each dish and provide samples of beer. Patrons can order full plates or they can order “from the smoker”: a la carte options for the cuts of various meats.
“From the smoker” has a ‘Pick-3’ option, as there are about 10 different cuts from which to choose, and comes with sliced white bread.
Those wanting to pick their own cuts may be disappointed, as the ‘Pick-3’ options change day-to-day. It’s more of a daily sampler from the chef than a choice.
The three “meats of the day” were the brisket, the Shiner Bock turkey, and the house-cured maple bacon. Customers can choose from either a lean or fat cut of brisket.
Instead of in a napkin, silverware is packaged in a white rag towel. The same kind of white rag towel with which one would wipe his or her hands with when grilling on July 4th or working on a car in the garage. What’s better is the fact that the food was brought out on wooden cutting boards rather than plates. Very backyard-esque stuff.
The cut of brisket was great, not too fatty but still soft enough with a tangy kick that’s really good and not too salty. The turkey was good as well. The Shiner gives it a sweet taste and there’s a hint of smokiness in the middle of the bite. However, it could have been much juicier. Smothering both the brisket and the turkey in their sweet house BBQ sauce gives everything a nice, candy compliment.
As for the bacon, there was a lot of fat hanging off the slices. A strong maple taste brought out a nice breakfast-like flavor. The burger was colossal, stacked with brisket and bacon accompanied by a mountain of crispy fries. The patty was cooked just right, soft and juicy, and the bacon on the burger was that good, crispy red part of the pig. Most importantly, it had enough cheddar cheese to fit the amount of meat; the macaroni was fantastic — shell pasta with layers of different cheeses mixed with a fresh blend of herbs.
The food is moderately priced; a meal including a couple rounds of beer won’t cost more than about $25.
Traditional Texas-barbeque fans should know that Smoke isn’t a mess hall where they can slide a tray down the counter and get spoons slapped on their plates. It’s an actual sit-down restaurant. Similar to the other food venues around Stone Oak’s swanky streets, Smoke’s cuisine is prepared with a worldly range of ingredients by gourmet chefs.
At Smoke, you will not find a clamoring wall of televisions displaying live sporting events. Customers can enjoy live music every Thursday through Saturday. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. On Sunday, patrons enjoy a delicious brunch.
Smoke also has a food truck that sometimes posts up at The Block at UTSA Blvd. and Roadrunner Way – for those wishing to savor cuisine but save a trip.