Ribs & Ribbing The MMC descends on Smokey Joe’s


There is something inherently manly about smoked, barbecued hunks of meat.

Even today, sticky ribs, pulled pork, or even a perfectly-grilled steak can reach into our psych and tweak the strings of our honed instincts like a bass guitar as if to say “the hunt has been successful, we live to fight another day, time to celebrate.”

There are certainly a few things to celebrate at Smokey Joe’s BBQ Shack & Beer Bar, site of a recent Manly Meal Coalition dinner. A well-positioned and well-appointed little meat haven in SoHo, this is perfect he-meal territory, with a menu of Southern American BBQ dishes complemented by a great collection of craft beers.

“A good location for a boy’s night out but I don’t think it’s somewhere you’d want to take a date.” - Princess


The Lowdown
It’s a small place, even by SoHo standards, but we had booked ahead, allowing us to skip the sports bar décor of the dining room and head out back to an equally small courtyard. The space was just large enough for our group of 12, who perched on barstools and ordered up a hurricane from a Southern-inspired menu that includes everything from potato salad with bacon and smoked Angus cheeseburgers to fried pickles and smoked beans. We opted for an easy, hand-held dinner of smoked, pulled organic chicken sandwiches, hickory-smoked pulled pork sandwiches, and Southern-style baby back ribs, as well as a round of the signature bourbon-spiked Savannah iced tea (Tumbleweed had to have his little pot of coleslaw, which was brought out first, with plenty of pageantry).

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The ambiance of the place is fun, guy-friendly, and laid back. The outdoor courtyard is a unique space and we were able to keep tabs on both the front door and, as one degenerate pointed out, the procession of lovelies visiting the facilities, which are located nearby. The ribs, the main reason you’re Smokey’s bound, were brilliant, with the tangy sweet sauce well infused into the meat, which in turn slipped off the bone like a silky negligée. The same was said for the beef brisket.

 “We also loved the craft beers that, although a little pricy, were fresh, fragrant, and hoppy. The local Fat Rooster IPA was a perfect match with the ribs.” - Salton


Being out the back, we tended to have to holler for the friendly but often absent staff (despite the fact we were making as much noise as a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in the confined courtyard). This was especially vexing for Princess who wanted to know which red wine the waitress thought would go best with hickory. His call for the sommelier went unanswered and he was forced to settle for a rather innocuous house red.

On the food front, everything came out hot and quickly, but that’s where it stopped being impressive. Paper plates and cutlery don’t really mix with SoHo prices and instantly made the scene in the courtyard look like the end of the night rather than the mid-way point. The pork and chicken sandwiches were a little overly simplistic, with the meat a bit dry and the plastic bag buns adding to the effect of having peanut butter stuck on the inside of your mouth. The bourbon Savannah iced teas were a better idea on paper than in the flesh, and was far heavier on the sugar than on Kentucky’s greatest export. One round was enough for the whole group - except for Princess – to go for beers.

“It tastes better if you add more sauce. A lot.” – Wilbur



As a place to rally the troops for some pre-revelry sustenance, Smokey Joe’s does what it says on the box – good bbq in a simple setting. The staff were very accommodating and couldn’t be blamed for keeping their distance (we did have some rather dubious characters in attendance).

“Go with people with whom you’d be comfortable seeing (or being seen by) dripping in BBQ sauce.” - Tumbleweed

The price point is competitive with other SoHo fast food joints but the whole place could step up with proper plates and cutlery – it’s not an Air Asia flight after all. We’ll be back, but probably as a culinary top up rather as a destination for dinner (though a few of us were back for the Superbowl, Smokey’s stomping on the face of local competition The Globe in terms of its breakfast spread and general ambiance.)

Smokey Joes
BBQ Meat for Men
28 Elgin Street,
Tel: 2530 5885,

Note: Smokey Joe’s was reviewed by the Manly Meal Coalition, a fraternity of like-minded gents from the four corners of the globe. All meals are paid for and restaurants reviewed without their knowledge. If you’d like to get in on the action connect NecesCity though Facebook.


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