When you are in the mood for BBQ, there is no better place to go where they take their time in preparing their food. Do you like ribs that are slow cooked for 8 hours? Or how about beef that is cooked for up to 18 hours? If that is what you consider real BBQ, then look no further than the Smoke City Market on Van Nuys in Sherman Oaks.
I must have passed by this place a handful of times and never noticed it, but it sits on a funky jug handle right hand turn just north of Magnolia Blvd that sits a little farther from veiw, but once you find this place, you notice the smoker on the outside patio adorned with wood tables and benches. When you walk in, you realize that this is a no nonsense BBQ joint, tables and benches throughout the entire place. It kind of made me want the food a little more actually. Decor can go a long way to making a good meal as well.
What I had up to offer was nothing but a smorgasbord, (wow really, is that how you spell that? Thanks autocorrect!) of meat and sides that could have served a family of 4 quite comfortably. On my plate were the moist brisket, half rack of pork ribs, pastrami, and beef links, along with texas caviar (black eyed peas), potato salad, pit beans (bbq beans), longhorn mac and cheese, and cole slaw. See, I told you.
First let me start off by saying that my friends and I usually smoke/BBQ on the weekends and I have no problem giving my opinion on good BBQ, and this was GOOD BBQ! The pork ribs were easily my favorite, slow cooked, falling off the bone, and with that nice pink smoke ring that you want to see with good quality cooking. Everything is smoked over white oak. The flavor was meaty and the smoking didnt overpower the meat. There was really no need to add any hot sauce, but I always do. Amazing comes to mind.
Next on the menu, the brisket… a fork at this point was kind of useless, because it was so tender, it was falling apart with each attempt, so it became finger food. Moist, delicious, and just enough smoke. It was a little salty for my taste, but that didn’t stop me from eating it!
What was really impressive was the pastrami, I dont think I have ever seen a cut of meat look so juicy. Cut straight from the bigger piece, this was as red as red can get, but it wasn’t undercooked. Be prepared for a lot of peppercorn, it gets everywhere! I would have thought that the pastrami would have been on the salty side, but it was just perfect. Almost melts in your mouth.
The beef sausage comes out exactly how you picture sausage should be, hand made, still rocking the butchers twine in individual links. I felt that it tasted like the brisket in sausage form, and just like the brisket, it fell apart when you dug into it. Like all of the other meat that I tried, it was very tasty, but I don’t think it got the fullness of flavor that from the smoking that the other meat enjoyed.
And then there were the sides. From my perspective, they are all played right down the middle with subtle enhancement as to not take away any stage time from the meat, which I enjoyed. Sometimes it becomes too much when the sides overpower the main dish, they should taste good, but not compete with the other flavors, which these did. My favorite was surprisingly the coleslaw, one of the best that I have had; crunchy, flavorful, not too milky, very nice. The pit beans had chunks of meat in them which brought in some flavor, so I kicked it up a notch with some hot sauce. I honestly never had black eyed peas before and they were tasty in a light salsa that made it more flavorful.
If you are looking for a fork and knife place for BBQ, this is not the place to go (although there are forks and knives for your convenience). When they make the meat, they expect it to be a down and dirty good time. Portions are cut when you get there to keep all of the goodness locked up until the last possible second. What a way to spend the afternoon, but watch out for the meat coma to ensue.
It’s a must go if you love good BBQ!