By ROBIN DORHN-SIMPSON
Why open a new restaurant in the middle of a pandemic? Because we need comfort. Comfort food calms the soul.
We have all been driving by this restaurant for months wondering what is going on behind the canvas walls. Now we know! Smokey & The Brisket has moved into the neighborhood and we are lucky.
BBQ is an art form and art takes time. No one knows that better than a pit boss. Smokey’s pit boss works around the clock for our enjoyment. He is busy smoking all the traditional meats and some unique sausages. Chef/owner Alberto Morreale, from the Farmer’s Table and Farmer’s Bottega, is all about feeding La Mesa residents good food.
Designers have been busy too, creating a clever motorcycle and automotive theme. The front counter is made of the red toolboxes that all of you gear heads have in your garage. Also, a 1960’s Dodge A100 van with the top cut off has been converted into a bar. The beer taps resemble motorcycle gas tanks. Booths and chairs have racing stripes and the armrests have illuminated taillights, and of course, an old gas pump and a motorcycle grace the dining area.
On the menu, you will find the full range of meats that everyone knows and loves brisket, pulled pork, rotisserie chicken, both pork and beef spare ribs and Texas smoked sausage links. If you just can’t live without a hamburger, you’re in luck — and it is good.
If you want a whole or half chicken, they have three different options: herb, habanero and Alabama chicken with a white Alabama BBQ sauce.
Lest you think the menu is all meat, there is a nice selection of salads such as Burnt Carrots and Cauliflower Salad with Arugula, goat cheese and cilantro-lime vinaigrette and a Smoked Pulled Chicken Salad topped with Fritos.
The menu also includes an “Ooey Gooey” jalapeno mac ‘n cheese featuring brisket burnt ends. Try some of the delicious side dishes like Brussels sprouts, cowboy caviar, mashed potatoes and cornbread. They offer four different flatbreads with handcrafted 48-hour rising dough.
Kids love BBQ too and they are not forgotten with cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, and other sandwiches with fries.
If you are feeding an army, they offer a meal for four to six and another for 12 to 14.
Currently all orders are to go, but you can sit on the patio and eat your food. When we are able to eat indoors again, you can enjoy televised motorsports such as NASCAR, motocross and monster truck events.
Smokey & The Brisket is open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. or sold out, whichever comes first. Don’t delay in ordering as they sell out quickly. You will find them at 5465 Lake Murray Blvd. Call to order food for pick up 619-439-6544. Check out their menu and order online at www.smokeyandthebrisketsd.com.
—Robin Dohrn-Simpson is a San Diego-based freelance travel and food writer.