It's been 18 months since it opened, and we're still thrown for a loop when it comes to Smoky Rose, the chef-driven barbecue spot across from the Dallas Arboretum. If it's the barbecue basics you crave, we found the 'cue at Smoky Rose to be spot-on during our first visit. But that barbecue comes in an upscale wrapper. Smoky Rose's lushly landscaped patio and farmhouse chic interior appear lifted straight from an HGTV episode.
Smoky Rose also dabbles in more than just barbecue, but does so with varying degrees of success. Our food critic loved the fish and green beans, but our burger maven was disappointed with Smoky Rose's bacon jam burger. So when we learned that Smoky Rose was jumping into the brunch game, we headed back yet again, not quite sure what to expect.
The brunch menu is pared down from the larger menu, but several items are simply carryovers. Under the appetizers section, the deviled eggs and smoked salmon are holdovers that can be ordered any time. So is the brisket queso ($9.50), but we couldn't resist the idea of queso and brisket for brunch. We also started with a pair of the cinnamon bites ($6), which were two mini muffins made from a cinnamon pecan cake and doused with a creamy vanilla frosting. The muffins are served warm and were a perfect not-too-sweet start to the meal.
There's also avocado toast available for $12 because of course there is. Smoky Rose's take starts with a spread of guacamole over a thick slice of toast, then adds what appears to be another whole avocado, delicately sliced and fanned on top and finished with goat cheese crumbles. The whole contraption sits in a modest bed of beet hummus and can be a meal of its own if you're in the mood for something light.
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Over to the main dishes, there's yet more repetition from the regular menu in the form of a two-meat plate of barbecue meats or the bacon jam burger (which curiously costs 50 cents more than if you ordered it for lunch — blame the home fries). Thankfully, there are also more breakfast-y options, like biscuits and chorizo gravy ($14) or French toast with bacon and eggs ($12), to chose from.
We opted for the breakfast tacos ($12), advertised with the chef's choice of smoked meat, scrambled eggs, grilled peppers and onions, and cotija cheese. Our three tacos came filled with pulled pork on corn tortillas that were nearly perfect and a tomatillo salsa on the side that provided a little extra kick. Now, far be it from us to tell you how to live your life, but if you ordered the tacos and the brisket queso and didn't scoop spoonfuls of queso onto your tacos, you're living it the wrong way.
On most points food-related, Smoky Rose's brunch can be judged a success. If we're nitpicking, we wish there was a little more creativity on the menu instead of the same lunch and dinner items just served earlier in the day.
Smoky Rose's unapologetically upscale vibe translates into upscale prices, too. Perhaps the upmarket feel hasn't quite caught on yet, if the light attendance during our recent Sunday morning visit is any indicator. Or maybe the abundance of brunch options in Dallas means that Smoky Rose needs to work that much harder to stand out from the crowd.
Smoky Rose, 8602 Garland Road (East Dallas)