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Perfect For: Action at the Bar

Smokestack is cool as hell. The “giant repurposed warehouse” look has been done before, but we’ve never seen it done so well. The bar has a great beer selection, the cocktails are solid, and the people are clearly feeling the swelling gentrification of the Dogpatch. If it were just a bar, this score would be somewhere in the 8’s.

But it is not just a bar, and so the trouble starts. Smokestack is taking on a wide spread of barbecue styles, from Carolina pork to Texas brisket, and none of it is particularly awesome. Mediocre barbecue is pretty easy to identify, and plate after plate let us down.

Two other things bothered us: the line/ordering system, and the prices. Like most pseudo-classic BBQ joints, you wait in a giant line to order, pick meats by the pound, and participate in a free-for-all for seating. The problem is that genuinely classic BBQ joints have enough seating, and aren’t doing double-duty as trendy neighborhood weekend drinking joints. Smokestack has reams of unused space in its back area with a few token standing tables. We don’t mind standing to drink or snack, but it’s not ideal for eating a couple hundred dollars of smoked meats.

And yeah, the prices are crazy high, which is standard in this town. But if you’re going to charge more than Franklin BBQ in Austin for brisket (like, a lot more), it better be in the ballpark. This is not.

So we think the play is to go to Smokestack for some drinks and head out to eat after. Or, if you have some intrepid line-waiters, stick with the pork. And prepare a scouting party 20 minutes in advance for some seating. Good luck.

Food Rundown


Dry, brown, a bit gristly (learned a new word!). Lacking all the fatty moist juiciness that defines good brisket. We’re still on the lookout for one in SF. Also, it’s $32 a pound. Yes, you read that correctly.

Chopped Pork

By far our favorite meat — this pork has that nice smoky saltiness that you’re looking for. Could have passed for some real Carolina ‘cue with that vinegar sauce.


Porchetta is basically pork wrapped in a layer of fat (scientific definition), which is a delicate balance. Smokestack overdid the fat-to-meat ratio, which meant that a bunch of the dish was left on the table. Never a good sign.

Chili Pork and Cheddar Sausage

Had a nice pop but these taste like salty fat juice. We were hoping for more meaty/spicy/cheesy flavors.


Nicely smoky, but often pretty dry. The moist parts can be delicious, though.


BBQ sides are often bad, and these are no exception. Special credit to the coleslaw for tasting like undercooked cabbage in lemon juice. The pickled cauliflower is about the same.

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