Iâ€™m almost embarrassed to admit that until this week, I hadnâ€™t paid a visit to the not-so-new Smoke Shack, 332 N. Milwaukee St. Itâ€™s been on my list, along with a zillion other places, and finally I can check it off with a juicy, delicious checkmark.
Itâ€™s never a bad idea to have lunch with the owner, and Joe Sorge made sure I left Smoke Shack in a food coma. We went nuts with the Kansas City eggrolls ($8.25), brisket sloppy joe sliders ($10.75), the brisket "sammich" with kettle chips ($13.50), sweet potato fries ($3.50) and corn bread ($1.75). I also drank about a gallon of iced tea.
Iâ€™m not a barbecue enthusiast, but I like good food, and Smoke Shack was great. I couldnâ€™t imagine the apps and sides tasting any better â€“ the eggrolls rocked â€“ and the only reason that the brisket sandwich was a touch dry was because I asked for it lean â€“ and I was warned that would be the outcome. With that sandwich, though, I mixed and matched between the Kansas City, Texas, house and "Kick 24 Habanero" sauces. Iâ€™m not sure I could even pick one winner.
But beyond the food, I appreciated the decor, since the last time I was in this building, it was a tavern called MJâ€™s. That the creative geniuses from Flux Design dismantled a barn and reassembled it inside Smoke Shack gave the joint an authenticity you donâ€™t usually find in Milwaukee.
There may very well be better, cheaper barbecue places in Milwaukee, and since Iâ€™m not a connoisseur, Iâ€™ll leave it for the readers to side. But I like the idea of building a tiny, 47-seat restaurant that uses locally sourced and humanely raised meats, and smoked on site. When they run out each day, they run out.
It took me more than a year to get to Smoke Shack. It wonâ€™t take me that long to come back.
olderwiser | Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:25 a.m. (report)
Double ditto with all other comments. I have no idea what the BBQ tastes like at this place. I am in the mood for good BBQ ribs but wouldn't chose Smoke Shack on the review I just read at OMC for sure. My faves so far, when I've traveled, have been in the Kansas City area. But I've been told that different regions specialize in different kinds of BBQ styles and flavors. I know some great amateur grillers that can knock them out of the park with tender meat and great flavor so maybe I'll just have to opt for an invitation to someone's barbecue in the near future.
Smoke Shack BBQ is some of the best in the city. Not too many places that do real BBQ in Milwaukee like they do. The quality of the meat is good and the prices are a little high, but fair for what you are getting. I like the Speed Queen sauce and wish Smoke Shack had something comparable in a red tangy sauce, but other than that I've loved the pulled pork, baby back ribs and wings they serve. BBQ gets done differently all over the country and wherever you've had it before is what you'll use to compare it to. That's the fun of BBQ. So many different ways to do it.
I thought the Smoke Shack was alright. BUT, my wife's from Memphis. People in Wisconsin just don't *get* bbq. The bbq in Memphis is so good that you don't even need the sauce. And it's everywhere, and every place is just as equally good down there. And you can get a huge portion of bbq for under $5 down there. In Tennessee, there's a bbq place at every exit on the highway, every truck stop, every back alley, every where. Having bbq in Tennessee ruined all other bbq for me, and I will never, ever, ever find bbq that will satisfy me here in Wisconsin. No matter how much I try.
Show me the other 3 Talkbacks
8 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published Jan. 6, 2015
I remember back in college, I came to the realization that several different versions existed of me. Those different versions of me continue to this day, but nowhere are they more pronounced than on social media. I embraced Twitter long before Facebook and Instagram, but now active on all three, you'll experience a totally different Andy Tarnoff if you only look in one place.
Published Dec. 30, 2014
These year-end lists are always fun to write, because they are so open-ended. So bear with me if I skip the regular categories and think outside the box a little for this one.
Published Dec. 29, 2014
As you can imagine, it's not easy being a four-season bike shop in a state where it's possible to see snow on the ground for eight months out of the year. But Steve Whitford, co-owner of South Shore Cyclery in Cudahy, says he knows no other way.
Published Dec. 22, 2014
I remember vividly how hard school was. Not just the homework, but the routine of waking up early, navigating its social intricacies. Granted, my daughter is only in K5, but still, she works hard - so I like to reward her with plenty of family fun when seasonal school vacations come around.
Published Dec. 17, 2014
Yesterday, I walked around Packard Avenue in Cudahy for the first time in a long time. I mean, I drive through or around Cudahy all the time, but yesterday was different. I stopped to smell the roses. Every real Milwaukeeans should pay a visit to downtown Cudahy every now and then. It's like a window into our past, and it's still alive and kicking today.
Published Dec. 11, 2014
We all had a good laugh when the word spilled that Scott Walker substituted "Molotov" for "Mazel Tov" in his Hanukkah letter to Frank Gimbel. But you know that Gov. Walker didn't write that letter, right? He didn't even sign it.
Published Dec. 2, 2014
Black Friday and Cyber Monday were good fun, but Giving Tuesday is all about giving back to our community. It's a relatively new concept, but several Milwaukee nonprofits participate, including Discovery World, UPAF and Pathfinders. One local organization, Penfield Children's Center, is making Giving Tuesday work through crowdsourcing.
Published Dec. 1, 2014
I'm going to beat the Milwaukee winter. I will not be cold again. I will laugh in the face of Snowmageddon. I will be toasty warm when the temperatures drop well below zero. Here's how.
Published Nov. 18, 2014
Take it for what its worth, but Playboy Magazine has Blue's Egg as one of its 101 best breakfasts in America (don't worry, the link is reasonably safe for work). The restaurant at 317 N. 76th St. came in 21st place out of 23 Midwest selections, just behind Mickie's Dairy Bar in Madison.
Published Nov. 11, 2014
Can you imagine how social media would've melted down exactly 101 years ago? Nov. 11, 2013 was the end of the "Big Blow," the "Freshwater Fury" or the "White Hurricane," a hurricane-force blizzard that killed more than 250 people and and destroyed 19 ships.