When you’re on your way to see a Freddy Mercury biopic, you can’t really settle for drive-thru or soggy spinach thrown in a hoagie by a “sandwich artist”. Right? Like, you can’t really sit through that epic Live Aid performance as acted out impeccably by Rami Malek, with a Baconator gassing up your intestines or a bad case of Taco Bell Regret. No, you need to break free from the norm and go a little more unforgettable when choosing your pre-Mercury meal. When my husband and I stole away from our kids for a rare and much-needed date night, we knew just the joint to pop into for dinner. We wanted to head into the flick on a full belly to avoid the inevitable debt that comes from ho-hum theatre snacks.
Located right across the street from the cinema in Penticton, Smugglers Smokehouse had piqued our meat-lover’s interest since we first noticed it back in 2017. This was the perfect opportunity to give the BBQ joint a try. Of course, we knew we ran the risk of sitting through Mr. Mercury’s life story with the meat sweats, but the show must go on and this was a chance we were willing to take in the name of good food.
The dining experience at Smugglers Smokehouse is extra-casual. The menu is a chalkboard and you head up to the counter to order your chow. The seating is rustic and woody and highlighted by brick features like any good BBQ joint, and overall the atmosphere is welcoming, warm and totally comfortable.
Smuggler’s Smokehouse, boasting the tagline “low and slow” opened in 2017 after a successful Kickstarter campaign. They share their location with the Peoples Soda Co. at 215 Winnipeg St, as previously mentioned, right across the street from Landmark Cinemas. When we noticed it, my family and I were overjoyed that someone had finally filled the gaping BBQ-shaped void in Penticton. Finally, a place to binge on something smoky; something slow-smoked at 200 degrees (Mr. Farenheit).
When it was our turn to order, we chose a combo that included a little bit of everything. Though they say too much love will kill you, this platter was perfect. There were ribs, brisket and sausage, some pulled pork, BBQ chicken, cornbread, colseslaw, mac & cheese and baked beans. Everything you expect from a great BBQ joint, all in one order. My husband grabbed a beer, while I had a glass of the house-made, fresh lemonade that was utterly to-die-for. With each meal, you get to choose some sauce from a long list of mouth-watering options: Red BBQ, White BBQ, Sweet Heat, Mustard Maple, Carolina BBQ, Hot Sauce, Root Beer Glaze. My husband and I chose Red BBQ, Carolina BBQ and Hot Sauce.
The ribs were perfectly cooked, falling off the bone and whiffing of campfire. The brisket practically melted in my mouth, especially with a hit of their house hot sauce. The pulled pork was moist and flavourful and the sausage had that characteristic snap and ooze with every bite. The chicken, though, which is not often my favourite thing at a BBQ spot, was so inviting, nary a day has gone by since I haven’t thought back to it with my eyes glazed over. I’d go back for the chicken alone.
I find that the quality of sides is often overlooked in restaurants. They appear to be made to just round out your meal so you don’t walk away hungry. I never really have high expectations for sides. At Smugglers Smokehouse though, my expectations were destroyed. These sides will rock you. The coleslaw was mouth-watering and perfectly tangy, the beans were rich and satisfying, the cornbread was sweet and delectably dense, and the piece de resistance, the mac & cheese… Oh, my good lord, the mac & cheese was enough to stop your ten-year-old from flossing. It’s… well, it’s a kind of magic, really.
If all this restaurant had on the menu was their mac, I’d still recommend it. It was clearly the Champion.
We have not had the pleasure of going back yet, but we absolutely will and this time, we’re hoping to hit the place up for breakfast. Available on weekends until 2pm, Smugglers Smokehouse offers an array of BBQ-style breakfasts such as BBQ Benny and brisket, hash and cornbread. While there are no vegan options on the menu, vegetarians would be happily satisfied trying the mac, coleslaw, cornbread and their handful of veggie breakfast options. Kids will also fit in just perfectly with the atmosphere in this restaurant.
As for the movie, I did indeed sob through the Live Aid performance with the meat sweats, but I don’t regret it. I’m just a poor blogger, I need no sympathy.
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Have you been to Smugglers Smokehouse? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!