Originally posted by Tony Bad
And...since I didn't get my BBQ last time, and I went for my favorite Chinese last night, I think it might be right for some Smokin' Al's (I am also staying in Smithtown -- a lot closer to Bay Shore -- this time!).
Wish I had seen this earlier...it would have been nice to break (corn) bread with a fellow roadfooder. I live about 5 miles from Smokin' Al's. I'll be interested to hear what you thought of the food.
Sorry, it was really a spur of the moment decision. I was surfing this site and came across this thread again and thought I would give it a shot. I get up to LI frequently on business (be back again April 17-22, and then again in May), and I will definitely look to hit Smokin' Al's again.
I thought the food was surprisingly good. I have been to many of the better BBQ places listed on this site, some widely regarded as the best BBQ in the country. I thought I read somewhere that Stephen Rushmore, Jr. thought that Dinosaur BBQ was "the best." I think that there is better -- but, this is not too far below Dinosaur, if at all.
I sat at the bar (I was by myself, so it worked). I ordered a beer and asked the bartender what her recommendation would be for someone who had never been there before. She turned to the three guys who were seated to my right and they all said "Ribs!" in unison.
The bar sits right in front of the "Pit", which is where everything is prepared. The owner keeps a watchful eye on things. He seemed like a pretty nice guy -- joked with me a little. He definitely seemed to be a hands on kind of a person, and that is OK with me. I watched as plate after plate of food went out to the other customers, and thought that I would be pretty happy.
I had the full slab of baby backs with mac and cheese and fries. Let me start with the sides -- the mac and cheese was wonderful, as were the fries, which appeared to be fresh and hand cut. I like meat, but I am a big fan of these side dishes.
The ribs had an undeniable smoke flavor. I did not slather them with sauce -- just ate what was on the bone after preparation -- and by the end of the slab, I thought that maybe they could have used a little more sauce, but not too much. The first couple of bones were a little fatty, but it only added to the flavor, rather than distract from it.
I will warn you, though. When you walk in, it kind of has some of the markings of a chain restaurant. There is a perky hostess, loud (not too loud for me, but some might think it is loud) music playing, bright neon signs, bottled sauce available for purchase, etc. I asked if it was a chain or single location, and that was when I was introduced to "Smokin' Al." He assured me that it was the only "Smokin' Al's", but something tells me that he might have aspirations of expanding. All in all, a very pleasant experience. Not the kind of place one would expect to find on Long Island, but I was glad that I did.