3. Smoke: The Restaurant
700 E. Sonterra Blvd., (210) 474-0175, smoketherestaurant.com
Good brisket in Stone Oak? Could it be?
Though we may have been doubtful at first, chef Brian West and his crew of cooks and servers are helping change the reputation of Loopland — one sausage link at a time.
Opened by the same folks behind China Garden, Smoke occupies the space that once housed Auden's Kitchen, so to say that expectations are running high would be a bit of an understatement. Though you might not find the fish 'n' chips, you can find fun takes on snacks and, of course, full-blown barbecue boards. Start with the bread basket, baked in house, and dive into the brisket poutine for a sinful starter of crisp tater tots, brisket bits, chipotle aioli and a fried egg (naturally). What could be a heavy dish that leaves you feeling sluggish is instead a delight that we're ready to eat again.
Feeling more than peckish? Order the "Sexy BBQ Meatloaf" for a generous helping of skin-on buttermilk mashed potatoes that serve as a vessel for the loaf, a moist mix of brisket and bratwurst topped with a tasty tomato sauce.
And when it comes to the barbecue itself, try one of everything. Brisket comes lean or fatty, served thick and alongside sliced Texas Toast. The Dr. Pepper pork ribs, less sweet than we would have guessed, are meaty and toothsome, while the turkey will put your mom's Thanksgiving Day bird to shame. Try all six sauces West and co. whip up, and try not to sneak some home to go.
Though we didn't stick around for desserts, also made in house, we're aching to go back and try the homemade and rustic sweets as well as a Sunday brunch that has our names all over it.