I’m almost embarrassed to admit that until this week, I hadn’t paid a visit to the not-so-new Smoke Shack, 332 N. Milwaukee St. It’s been on my list, along with a zillion other places, and finally I can check it off with a juicy, delicious checkmark.
It’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.
I’m not a barbecue enthusiast, but I like good food, and Smoke Shack was great. I couldn’t imagine the apps and sides tasting any better – the eggrolls rocked – and the only reason that the brisket sandwich was a touch dry was because I asked for it lean – 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. I’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 MJ’s. That the creative geniuses from Flux Design dismantled a barn and reassembled it inside Smoke Shack gave the joint an authenticity you don’t usually find in Milwaukee.
There may very well be better, cheaper barbecue places in Milwaukee, and since I’m not a connoisseur, I’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 won’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 Oct. 13, 2016
Herb Alpert and his wife Lani Hall will visit The Pabst Theater on Oct. 16, and at 81, the legendary trumpet player still looks forward to pleasing his audience and leaving them smiling. His career spans five decades and he's still going. We caught up with him prior to his show.
Published Oct. 13, 2016
Halfway through the bass-thumping, sweaty hot mess that was the Die Antwoord show at The Rave in the Eagles Club ballroom Wednesday night, I shouted, my words barely audible over the screaming Afrikaans rap, "How the hell am I going to write this review?"
Published Sept. 18, 2016
Typically, my annual early reviews of the Apple's new flagship phone are called "24 hours with the new iPhone." That tight time frame wasn't possible this year, because the new iPhone 7 took more than a day and a half just to update all my apps, photos, videos and iCloud data. I only started to really see it work as promised by Saturday night.
Published Sept. 16, 2016
When Katrina Cravy signs off from FOX 6 on Oct. 12, it will mark the end of a 20-year chapter in her life, but another one is about to open. While the 46-year-old anchor, reporter and host has been a fixture at her station for almost 18 years, she's preparing to embark on a career at a media relations consultant, speaker and author.
Published Sept. 14, 2016
On Thursday, Rahny Taylor returns to Milwaukee radio as morning host at 97.3 NOW, replacing the syndicated "Elvis Duran Show." It's been a secret Taylor's been keeping for a while. Unlike his last gig in town with Wes McKane and Ally Faith, he's doing this one solo.
Published Sept. 2, 2016
In 2004, Tim Schneider opened The Shop in Bay View's Hide House. Fast forward to 2016, and the motorcycle repair/customization shop - that only works on Japanese and European bikes - averages a 6-8 week waiting list, and their phone rings off the hook. It was time to move.
Published Aug. 31, 2016
Former Brewers pitchers Dave Bush and Seth McClung spent a lot of time standing for the national anthem during their careers. Like their teammates, rising was expected of them before every game, so when Colin Kaepernick made a statement by refusing to stand before an exhibition game last week, ex-players took note.
Published Aug. 29, 2016
Today, Verizon data speeds got faster. Verizon just rolled out its LTE Advanced technology to bring 50% faster peak wireless data speeds to more than 288 million people in 461 cities, including Milwaukee.
Published Aug. 22, 2016
I've said it for years. Door County means different things to different people. Whether your idea of this magical peninsula is nature or adventure, shopping or relaxing, friends or family - or a mix of everything above, one storyline arcs above all the rest: Door County is what you make it.
Published Aug. 19, 2016
My friend Drew Olson has a new work address. The veteran Milwaukee sports journalist / broadcaster - and former OnMilwaukee.com senior editor - ended an 11-year run as a talk-show host at ESPN Milwaukee (540 AM) last week and will begin a new chapter with The Big 920 (WOKY) on Monday.