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Friday, February 4, 2011

Smokey Joe Is Tiny, But Covers a Lot of Ground

Posted By on Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 5:17 PM

click to enlarge Our unintentionally double-pork Smokey Joe combo, $9.99. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Our unintentionally double-pork Smokey Joe combo, $9.99.

When SFoodie heard rumors that a brand new Southern barbecue place in the far-Outer Mission named Smokey Joe also had banh mi on the menu, our curiosity was piqued. We had to check it out for ourselves.

click to enlarge LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong

Turns out the rumors are true, though sadly, Smokey Joe's counter freezer broke this week, so banh mi were off the menu. The international smorgasbord of cuisines here goes beyond barbecue and Vietnamese sandwiches. There's Thai stir-fried noodles and rice plates, half-pound Angus burgers, grilled sandwiches, hot links, teriyaki and Jamaican jerk (pork, chicken, and beef), tacos and quesadillas, even fish and chips. Talk about overreach.

Thai owner Vathanalai Vorrachit is a one-man kitchen army, while a female assistant handles the register and tends to customers. He's also a diehard 49ers fan, judging from the tiny cafe's extensive team paraphernalia, which includes chairs, posters, a Ronnie Lott jersey, and more. The dining room was closed when we were there, so all orders were to go. The place is in a remote residential location with limited parking, but easy access via the Muni M line, which stops right in front, at the corner of Plymouth and Broad streets.

click to enlarge Go Niners... - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Go Niners...

Vorrachit is serious about his barbecue, which is not exactly Southern. He offers brisket, pulled pork, and spareribs, with a choice of seven sauces (as many as you want, no extra cost). There's original BBQ, cilantro lime, sweet-hot, sweet jalapeno basil, spicy peach, chipotle maple, and flaming hot. We chose original and spicy peach for our pork sparerib and beef brisket (which was actually pulled pork; read on) two-meat combo ($9.99, including two sides ― we picked steamed vegetables and potato salad). If ordering a la carte, small (six-ounce) servings of meat are available for $4.99, side dishes for $2.

As we walked out we wondered if a small operation with an ambitious menu would be likely to make mistakes. And sure enough, when we opened the container we found that Vorrachit had given us pulled pork, not brisket. Both meats were moist and hot, good enough to slay hunger. And the the veggies were nice and bright, but the potato salad was no better than Safeway's.

The meats come drenched with sauce. We asked for ours on the side, to better judge the meats. The ribs' pink smoke ring indicated proper smoking. The fall-off-the-bone ribs were the better of the two porks. We only wish we could have tried the brisket.

Smokey Joe: 300 Plymouth (at Broad), 859-5464. Open Mon.-Sat., noon-8 p.m. Closed Sun.

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Luis Chong


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