Of course, it would be hard to call Smoke's "big rib" an example of honest cooking: one sling of meat about the length of a man's forearm, slow cooked for most of a day—or until the meat practically falls apart and a basting of fennel-laced sauce condenses into a rich, herbal lacquer. It's more like one of those challenge dishes labeled "Texas-sized" you find in cutesy restaurants with wagon wheels propped outside. But the rest of the cooking fits into the honesty theme, including homemade hominy, a potato salad that would not be out of place at a summertime family reunion, and Tejano-style beer-can chicken.

There are bumps. For example, I had to discard a dry biscuit in order to enjoy beautiful, ruddy shards of shaved ham, cured in house, resonating with acrid curls from the wood-fired stove. "I'm a fan of from-scratch cooking—and it's really pushing me," Byres admits. Service seems pleasant enough, although it's near impossible for me to get more than a few steps through the door without being identified as a reviewer. After being seated on my first visit I saw Chris Jeffers whisper something to the server, who then approached the table and proceeded to declare everything we ordered a "good choice."

Well, it was true of the crisp hominy and halibut, but not so true of the scallops. And repeatedly confirming the wisdom of our choices was rather annoying. A confident staff has no need to flatter their guests.

Smoke gets in your eyes, nose, hair and mouth—and that’s sometimes a good thing.
Sara Kerens
Smoke gets in your eyes, nose, hair and mouth—and that’s sometimes a good thing.

Location Info

Map

Smoke

901 Fort Worth Ave.
Dallas, TX 75208

Category: Restaurant > Barbecue

Region: Oak Cliff & South Dallas

Details

Panzanella $8 Shaved ham biscuit $5 Crisp hominy $5 Carolina pulled pork sandwich $6 Beer-can chicken (half-pound) $8 Paprika and fennel sausage (half-pound) $8 Cast iron-seared scallops $24 The Big Rib $19 Fish of the day (asking price) Potato salad (for one) $4 Hominy casserole (for one) $4

More photos of Smoke and its food here in our slideshow.

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And there's no reason for the kitchen and staff not to be confident. Maybe just confused. The gorgeous pulled pork, rustic sausages, sophisticated layering of flavors in some of the seafood dishes...and you walk out trailing the sweet smell of burning wood behind you.

So Smoke is a barbecue place. It's also a sample of America's past. Then again, it latches on to the current trend of local sourcing and seasonal ingredients. They'll serve you backyard dishes like beer-can chicken, but there are moments when the chef's fine dining tenure shows through.

In other words, it is what you expect it to be, but so very different.

Smoke 901 Fort Worth Ave. (at the Hotel Belmont), 214-393-4141. Open daily 7 a.m.-10 p.m. $$-$$$
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