You don’t have to be a Texas long-horn to enjoy this round-up of superbly smoked and southern rustic Tex Mex cuisine at Smokey Joe’s (494 Cedar Lane; Teaneck, NJ. 07666; Telephone: 201.836.7427). Décor is sun-burnt orange against ranch-rawhide woodsy panels; Marlboro manly man and stallion photos adorning the walls. Brown butcher block paper covers tables set with colorful southwestern china (don’t forget to ask Joe for doodling crayons).
Joe, the owner, looked for a unique niche in the market and not only found one, but honed it like an art form till it yielded a product that fills the house on a regular basis. Joe, or Yossi to his chevra, told us “Food is life; food is kodesh.” “It’s about craft and high quality. You’ve got to give it the time and attention it takes to develop.” And indeed Joe has done so. His 74” smoker (which he lovingly dubbed Dimona-2) is the nucleus of his operation, but just as important is his approach to food and business. “You’re not producing a widget or stereo; my personal commitment to making great food is a life-time journey!” “It’s also about having a good sense of hospitality when Jews come calling at your restaurant. It’s a little different than the hachnassas orchim (welcoming guests) we do at home.” Joe certainly shared that hospitality with us.
Joe served up vittles Stephen J. Austin or Sam Houston would raise armies to fight for! The table started to fill up with outstanding home made cornbread with onion jam spread (you got to taste ‘em together to understand how awesome those flavors are together), refreshing iced tea and fresh squeezed lemon-ade and home made. Still warm tortilla chip (seriously, dangerously, addictive!) with freshly made guacamole for starters.
We were then treated to an assortment of Smokey Joe’s favorites. The Joe Dawg, the lamb merguez sausages, were marvelous; superbly smoked and flavored.
They’ve got six types to choose from, it wasn’t easy deciding which to try…
We then demolished their Beef Brisket (well… really… CS did, he kindly let me have one forkful before it was gone!) – smoked for up to 14 hours. The smoked taste did not overpower the brisket taste which was rich, marvelous. In a very uncharacteristic (well you saw the pictures of those ribs, how can you blame me?) uninhibited Flinstonian way, I dug into their long ribs which had been basted in a secret BBQ rub and smoked for around 5 hours in Dimona-2. (Surely, not first date action, unless you want to provide an instant inhibitions dissolver, right from the get-go) They were meaty, packed with flavor and delicious. I literally felt the spices coming through my pores. Quite unexpectedly, my favorite smoked entrée was the chicken.
I just loved the way the subtle smokey flavor worked its way into the soft flesh of the chicken resulting in a fabulous taste. We had no room for their burgers and chocolate mole sauce, which we heard are outstanding. We’ll have to come back and try those as well as some of their other popular dishes.
A great homey place to come with family and friends to chill an’ enjoy southern smokin’ Jewish hospitality.