BBQ Review

Smokey Joe's

1308 East Main Street

(Route 1)

Stamford, CT 06902

(203) 406-0605

  category: Stamford BBQ, Connecticut BBQ




Other Opinion




The Joint


Tucked on Main Street around the corner from World Wrestling
Entertainment headquarters in Stamford, Smokey Joe's is a convenient
detour off I-95 via exit 9. What looks like a former main entrance at the front of the building was no longer functional on an afternoon visit, but a peek through the windows revealed some billiards tables and a bar area that may be used on nights or weekends. From the rear parking lot you can see a smoker and stacks of chopped wood. The side door affords entry to the school cafeteria style line to the left and the homey seating area to the right. Meats are removed from a holding cabinet and plated while you wait; sides and dessert may be added before paying at the end of the line.


The Menu


Appetizers take on a Southwestern motif with chili, jalapeno poppers and nachos. For barbecue, there are pork spare ribs, "Texas cut" and babyback pork ribs, Texas beef ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken and sausage. Combinations are extremely flexible, with up to four meats—priced with or without ribs—and a choice of one or two sides. Non-barbecue meats comprise a good section of the menu, with several burgers, quesadillas, gumbos, salads and "dip fry" items providing choices aplenty.


The Visit


One competition barbecuer and one home barbecue enthusiast joined me
on a Friday afternoon visit for a late lunch. We had visited two of New York City's better barbecue restaurants earlier that day, so we were somewhat spoiled and more than somewhat full when we entered Smokey Joe's. Whether that influenced our opinion is anyone's guess, but it's a distinct possibility. The camera, on the other hand, wasn't influenced one bit.

The Appetizers


Chili is a ground beef variety with a silky smooth granularity to the meat and a deep flavor with a unique combination of spices. It's not an overly hot chili, but it's not lacking in flavor (though it does lack the barbecue flavor that usually pushes a good chili to a great one).


The Meats


Scrawny babybacks lacked size, tenderness, moistness, warmth, rub, smoke, crust and flavor, but they did have an attractive smoke ring. The spare ribs offered more tenderness, some juicy inner meat and more rub, but the holding method (stored in plastic bags kept in a warmer) yielded a slushy rub that hurt its would-be crust more than it helped, and the steamy quality certainly didn't reinforce the barbecue ethos. Flavor was minimal.


The holding method was more sympathetic to the pulled pork, which was very moist and tender (over-tender, actually) and moderately smoky. There was little if any bark and a slight chalkiness to the texture, but this was probably the best of the meats we tried that day.


The brisket, also stored in plastic, was removed from the holding contraption and sliced to order. It was certainly more tender than many briskets I've sampled, but the meat didn't really have much bark or flavor and desperately cried out for sauce.


The Sauces


Three sauces may be pumped into plastic cups at a station across from the cashier. The typical sweet and hot tandem was augmented by a mustard variety that I enjoyed with the pork. All were pretty good.

The Sides


I hardly ever eat mashed potatoes, so I'm relying on my dining
companions, who surmised that these were a mix of fresh and instant.
Baked beans were uneventful. Collard greens managed to supply good
flavor with minimal use of vinegar. The massive blocks of cornbread were
homemade, fresh and very good, with a coarse texture, a crusty top and
a softm crumbly interior. For me it was the highlight of the meal.

The bottom line: If you're traveling in Southern Connecticut and looking for a quick, affordable meal with enough variety to satisfy a diverse crowd, Smokey Joe's will meet that requirement. But if you're looking for destination barbecue, I can't imagine choosing Smokey Joe's over Wilson's (Fairfield CT) or Bobby Q's (Wesport CT) a little further north on I-95, or Q Restaurant (Port Chester NY) a little further south.



other opinion:

Yelp reviews of Smokey Joe's

Urban Spoon reviews of Smokey Joe's



Smokey Joe's BBQ on Urbanspoon



Some exterior renovations on the Main Street storefront.


The smoker and wood are good signs.


A clean, cottage-like interior may get you that barbecue meal without the wife and kids complaining.


click to view larger image

There's a menu on your left as soon as you walk in.


Counter service makes things easy.




click to view larger image

Brisket and babyback ribs.


click to view larger image

Pulled pork and pork spare ribs.


click to view larger image

Another look at the spare ribs and pulled pork.

click to view larger image

A closer (albeit blurrier) look at the babybacks and brisket.

click to view larger image

A closer look at the brisket (left) and pulled pork (right).

click to view larger image

Counterclockwise from front: babyback rib, spare rib, pulled pork, collards and brisket.

click to view larger image

A cross section of the pork spare ribs.

Collard greens.


I'm not quite sure what this was.





©2009 | all rights reserved


Joints | Reviews | Ramblings | News | Links | Recipes | About | Home