Photograph by Ryan Kurtz
Because SmoQ inhabits a large, clean, well-appointed (read: very un-BBQ-shack-like) chain-restaurant space, all the carnivorous finger-licking and bib-wearing seems jarring at first. But as soon as you sink your teeth into the brisket, let alone the enormous smoked chicken wings, the cognitive dissonance disappears. As of August 2013, the kitchen is run by chef Tom Martin, who developed a familiarity with comfort food while working at Barleycorn’s in Kentucky. SmoQ sends their brisket and pulled pork to the table naked (ahem), providing sweet, hot, and smoky barbecue sauces for customizable results. While deep-fried ribs are on the menu (yes, purists, we hear you shouting “Infidels!”), their tender, juicy, un-breaded counterparts (e.g., the real kind) are clearly the better bet. Order a side of collards if you’re feigning healthiness, but the breadcrumb-topped mac-and-cheese and pecan-encrusted sweet potato brûlée sure go down nice. The bar has a wide array of beer by the bottle and tap, if that’s how you roll.