Since opening about half a decade ago in Galt Ocean Mile, barbecue restaurant Smoke has developed what you might call a cult following. People line up for the beef ribs that only get served on Saturdays. On Fridays, they line up for the once-a-week burnt ends. (If you’ve never tried the fatty morsels that are a Kansas City delicacy, you’ll just have to trust us that the name doesn’t do them justice.) And all week, regulars come back for everything from brisket to pastrami.
“Thankfully the word of mouth is really what has been helping us and supporting us through this whole time,” co-owner Michelle Chin says. “That’s really the main way we’ve been having new people find us all the time. Every time I ask someone how they found us, they tell us that their friend told them about us.
“New people discover us all the time but also, people who come back and tell us that this is their first stop on their way back from the airport coming back to Florida for the season.”
Loyalty like that also helps make this time of year a hectic one for the beachside barbecuers. For Smoke, the holiday season also means party season.
“Definitely a lot of catering,” Chin says. “We have people who always cater with us. We’ve made it easy for people to order online. Catering orders, we can take the orders online for delivery or takeout. It makes it a much easier process. You order by the pound or by the package.
“The holidays are definitely getting busier. Thankfully we were pretty busy all summer and out of season, and now we’re seeing more people coming back for the holidays and staying for the season as well.”
The restaurant’s style with meat is across the board. From the Carolinas to Texas to Kansas City, the great barbecue regions all have their own distinctive styles – and that’s without even getting into something like pastrami, which might be associated more with Manhattan than traditional Southern or Midwestern barbecue.
“Everybody knows that theirs is the best,” Chin says with a laugh about proponents of the various barbecue styles. One thing she likes to see is fans of all the different styles of barbecue coming in and considering Smoke their place in South Florida. One great time to see that at the restaurant is this time.
“We’re excited to see the holiday season because we love seeing our loyal customers who always come back for the season,” she says. “It seems like we’re always meeting new people, all the new people who have moved to Florida from all different places in the country and the world, really. We like them to feel like it’s home for them when they come into the place.”
The Dish: Holiday Brisket
Want something a little different, but still quite traditional, for this year’s holiday table? Try an old fashioned brisket.
- 1 12–14 pound whole USDA prime beef brisket
- 2 tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder (optional)
Start with the highest quality whole pack brisket available and refrigerate until ready to trim. Cold brisket is easier to trim. Flip brisket so the point (fatty side) is underneath. Remove any silver skin or excess fat from the flat. Trim down the large crescent-shaped fat section to create a smooth transition between the point and the flat. Trim any loose or excessive meat and fat from the point. Square the ends and edges of the flat. Flip brisket over and trim the top fat cap to about 1/4 of an inch thickness across the surface of the brisket.
In a mixing bowl, mix the salt and pepper (and garlic, if desired) and rub evenly to distribute over the brisket on all sides.
Preheat smoker to 225 F degrees using Post Oak wood (or other hardwood of your choice). Place brisket on smoker with the point end facing the main heat source. Close lid and smoke until an internal thermometer reads 165 F degrees at thickest part (usually around 8 hours).
Center brisket on a large piece of butcher paper (or foil) and wrap by folding edge over edge to create a leakproof seal on all sides. With seam side down so the weight of the brisket holds the edges of the wrap tight, return the wrapped brisket to the smoker and close the lid to maintain smoking temperature of 225 F degrees.
When the internal temperature at the thickest part of the brisket reaches 202 F degrees (usually between 5–8 hours), remove the brisket from smoker and allow to rest for 1 hour before slicing. Slice both the point and flat of the brisket against the grain and serve immediately.