Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For a Good Time...SMOKE! (and Blue Dust around the corner...)

SMOKE: 225 East 8th Avenue, Homestead
Me and a bunch of fabulous gal pals were trying to get it together the other night to meet and gab and eat (EAT!). There are lots of places on my list, but I didn't have it together to make reservations (not all my fault, we didn't know how many of us could make it until the last minute) and with eight hungry bodies wanting to sit a while, few of my first choices could accommodate us. Obviously fate sent us just the right message, we wound up at SMOKE and, with the wonderful atmosphere and service, had a fabulous time, great food and wonderful BYOB drinkies--all at an incredibly affordable price.

SMOKE barbeque taqueria on Urbanspoon

Frito Pie, I shared, but I didn't want to...
Gluten free? Vegetarian? Vegan? SMOKE can accommodate many dietary restrictions. We got lucky that they were able to whip up some fresh made-from-scratch corn tortillas for the gluten restricted in our group and they had a few vegetarian options as well (not bad, considering the menu is not huge). We were also told that if you call in advance the staff will happily make sure that restrictions are accommodated. Nice! Also, SMOKE does not accept reservations. With that said, I called about 1 1/2 hours in advance and they were so lovely and said they would do their best to arrange incoming traffic to maximize our chances of having enough space. Lo and behold, when we got there, we had a terrific table waiting for us.

Oh, did you know that they cure their own meats (such as bacon)? YUM.

We started off with the two basic appetizers, Fritos with Queso and Frito Pie. One friend would have liked more fire and spice in the Frito Pie, and I agree because I do like it hot, but, truthfully, I couldn't stop eating the stuff. For me, it was perfect drippy, tasty munchy stuff.
Pork with apricot, I wanted several of these the next day, too...
I ordered a pulled pork taco with apricot glaze (everything comes on a soft tortilla) with a side of black beans. I could have eaten many of these things, they were that good. As it was, one was plenty with the beans, but most folks would probably consider two more of an entree.

The potato salad was creamy and fab, I think the crispy tasty bacon chunks really made it great.

Creamy potato salad with crispy bacon, I could eat that right now...

We brought several different kinds of drinks, beer and bourbon being most popular. True to form, I opted to try their house made lemonade as a bourbon mixer and was not at all disappointed. The corkage fee was $1.50 each. No problem.

Beer, bourbon, wine, and the right kind of glasses provided!
The bottom line is that the staff and service was so cheerful and pleasant, they gave us room and time to relax and enjoy ourselves. The atmosphere is comfortable and warm and the place smells so great. It is not fancy but it's not a dive--I like that. All around, we had a great time and the food was really good.

Bonus review...Blue Dust

Right around the corner is a wonderful gem, a small bar that a few of us teetered into after eating. This place infuses some of it's own spirits. The horseradish vodka makes a super fab bloody mary.

I tried the horseradish vodka and chai vodka. Have to think about the pickle vodka...oh! martini! next time...
The best of the evening (for me) was a chai infused vodka mixed with a splash of orange juice, a bit of seltzer and, after some tweaking (I didn't want the recommended creamy stuff, I can't really take cream in my mixed drinks) an inspired shot of something called "43" that really pulled it all together. Wow.

Our very fun server who helped invent our new concoction, c'mon, doesn't he make you want to go drink at Blue Dust too?