A well-known local restauranteur branches out into barbeque and finds that just weeks after opening, many menu items have built a solid fan base.
- story by Lisa Monti, photos by Lisa Monti & courtesy Smokin' Jo's
115 South Beach Blvd.
Bay St. Louis
Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Just a couple of weeks after Smokin’ Jo’s BBQ opened for business on Beach Boulevard, menu favorites are starting to emerge and some new items are being added by customer request.
“The pulled pork definitely is the most popular meat item but the Bay Fries have already become famous. They’re flying out the window,” said owner Jolynne Trapani.
Since the barbecue restaurant opened March 13, customers have been heading for the order window at the shack in front of Buoy’s Bar for barbecue and sides. They’ve also been calling in orders for pickup and delivery since Smokin’ Jo’s is one of a few places in town that deliver.
The menu and the delivery service are part of what sets the place apart and the response has been favorable.
“It’s going well,” said Trapani, who co-owns Trapani’s Eatery just down Beach Boulevard. “It seems to me that everybody is excited that barbecue is back.”
And if conditions are just right, the restaurant’s large smoker sends the scent of barbecue in the air. “Some people have said, “We can smell the smoker from my house,” Trapani said.
Back to those favorites. The waffle fries, unique to beachfront restaurant menus, are topped with fresh bacon bits, green onion, cheddar cheese and pulled pork drizzled with secret white sauce and BBQ sauce. Dorm-bound Stanislaus borders are among Bay Fries biggest fans, Trapani said.
Brisket Bay Queso, another popular locally named starter, combines chopped brisket with queso, crisply tortilla chips with a dusting of spices.
Brisket is a special treat to smoked meat fans and at Smokin’ Jo’s it is served in slices on the Train Bridge sandwich (delicious, especially the burnt ends), on meat plates sliced with two sides, by the half or full pound and as an accent to BBQ nachos, another rising star on the menu.
You can also have it on Grace’s Barbecue Soft Tacos, which I did, along with one tortilla filled with that tasty pulled pork. The tacos are topped with mango pineapple slaw for sweetness and a spicy blend of sriracha, fresh jalapeño slices and just bit of BBQ sauce. There’s a lot going on in this serving and it’s all good.
If you want to eat at Smokin’ Jo’s you have options on where to sit to enjoy your food. Outside there are tables with umbrellas for shade, you can share a spot at a picnic table or eat inside Buoy’s. Wherever you land, the servers will deliver your order to you, along with Smokin’ Jo’s spicy vinegar and sweet and spicy sauces. (Plus napkins for sauced up fingers and faces.)
Next time, I’m going for the sausage, which comes on a stick as a starter, as a Salt Water Slaw Dog on a bun (two per order) and on a meat plate.
“The sausage is amazing, very flavorful, not all that fatty and with a crisp casing,” Trapani said. It comes from a Mississippi family owned producer with a long reputation. On weekends, you can try alligator sausage, but order early. It sells out quickly.
Smokin’ Jo’s recently added fried dill pickles to the starter lineup after customers asked for them. “We do it with crinkled Kosher dills served with our white secret sauce. The Koshers are crispier and more flavorful,” Trapani said.
Great news for ham fans. Smokin’ Jo’s will be smoking 10-pound spiral hams for every holiday, starting with Easter this year. If you missed the special order, you can get smoky slices for a short time in old fashioned ham sandwich with melted cheese served on bread toasted on the griddle.
Smokin’ Jo’s also does catering. Look for a ribbon cutting Saturday, April 28 at 4 p.m.