An orange facade and a slick logo had me thinking fast food franchise, and the even slicker inside had the feel of a converted McDonald's. BBQue's Smokeshack is an over-the-counter operation with an accessible menu, affordable prices and plenty of seating, occupying the middle ground between McDonald's and Dallas BBQ. The wood decor from the dramatic entrance to the inner walls is impressive. According to the staff manager, the meats are smoked offsite.
Just like McDonald's, BBQue's Smoke Shack is open for breakfast, with a limited menu of hand held breakfast walkabouts: egg sandwich, biscuits and gravy, and a chicken and waffle sandwich. The platters menu is slightly less limited, with just ribs, brisket and pulled pork or chicken. The sandwich menu (all on Cibatta rolls, no less) removes the limitations, offering the usual suspects plus a BBQ Cuban, a grilled chicken sandwich, the "Big Dipper" chopped brisket with onions and au jus, a 3-meat sandwich and a stuffed burger. is menu is TBD. The list of sauces is equally widespread, with a dozen choices varying the levels of sweet, tomatoey, peperry and teriaki(ey).
A barbecue buddy and I hit BBQue's Smoke Shack toward the end of the afternoon on a New York barbecue crawl.
Ribs: I asked how many ribs come on the rib platter ($10.95) and was told, "Around four." It sounded kind of odd, and when I opened the bag (impressive packaging and logo, by the way) and lifted the lid, what I saw was even more odd: about a dozen golf ball sized clumps of meat that may or may not have been chopped ribs. Some had bones, some didn't. The texture offered a reasonable crusting on the outer surface and a pork choppy quality to the interior, though a little more moist. I took a whiff of a piece and it smelled a little funky (not in a good way) and not at all like real smoked ribs. Despite a matching funky flavor with an oven flavor to boot, the overall effect was at least decent, but well short of being worthy of a return trip.
I asked for two of the twelve sauces: honey sweet and maple hickory. Both seemed to use the same generic base, with slightly different additions. The maple was the better of the two, but both tasted like chemicals.
Barbecue meals come with cole slaw, cornbread and one side. They forgot to include the cole slaw. The soft beans looked like the canned variety but were a little better, with a simple sweetness nowhere near the usual molassesey approach. Cornbread was cakey, very moist and very sweet.
The Bottom Line
Granted, this was a small sampling, but that's all it took to get a feel for this place. I like the low-cost, no-hassle, over-the-counter approach that's severely lacking in this city (Daisy May's, with their $30 beef rib, and Dallas BBQ, with their low prices and lower quality, don't count). But in the end, it all comes back to McDonald's: if you want a meal in the same ballpark pricewise as the fast food chains, but with a bit of a twist, BBQue's Smoke Shack is an at-least-justifiable choice. But if you're hankering for real barbecue, spend a few more dollars and head to RUB, Hill Country, Blue Smoke or Wildwood, all within walking distance.
Yelp reviews of BBQue's Smoke Shack
Urbanspoon reviews of BBQue's Smoke Shack