Holy Smoke

Smoking is allowed at this Cockeysville ’cue joint.

By Mike Unger - February 2016

Review: Smoke

Smoking is allowed at this Cockeysville ’cue joint.

By Mike Unger - February 2016

The Boss Dawg pulled pork and bacon-glaze sandwich. -Photography by Scott Suchman

A few bites into my first meal at Smoke, the latest restaurant to stick its snout into Baltimore’s barbecue renaissance, I was struck by a somewhat radical thought: Josh White’s new Cockeysville barbecue joint might be the area’s most innovative.

My epiphany was sparked by what I was savoring at the time: a bacon-wrapped stuffed date, one of Smoke’s signature items. Slabs of thick, house-cured bacon engulf the fruit and blue cheese, then are drizzled with honey and slid onto wooden skewers, from which I removed them as quickly as possible to pop into my mouth. They are among the best things I’ve eaten in recent memory. After the initial bite, each one seemed to almost caramelize, releasing a subtly sweet flavor that makes them ideal as a snack (the category in which they’re listed on the menu, $8 for two skewers of four) or even dessert.

Turns out I wasn’t overreacting—the rest of our meal was equally original and tasty. Tossed in house-made hot sauce, the plump chicken wings ($9 for eight) are hickory-smoked then charred. With its combination of aged sharp cheddar, mild cheddar, and smoked gouda, the mac and cheese lives perilously close to—but does not cross—the line of too rich. That’s exactly where the dish should reside.

Smoke offers seven sandwiches, including smoked-then-fried bologna ($8) and a fried green BLT ($9) you’d be hard-pressed to find on other menus. We tried the Boss Dawg ($14), a heaping helping of pulled pork, bacon, crispy onions, pickles (made in-house), cheddar cheese, jalapeño-bacon glaze, and coleslaw somehow stuffed between a grilled bun. White doesn’t serve most of his ’cue slopped with sauce, so we ate half of the sandwich dry, then slathered on some of his house-made jalapeño-pineapple barbecue sauce. Both versions were crunchy, smoky, meaty, and messy—in other words, delicious.

Platters come with a small helping of slaw, plus either mac and cheese or smoked beans. The Lazy Yardbird ($14) is a massive half chicken brined with sweet tea then covered with a magnificent rub. The skin pops with crunch while the meat explodes with juiciness. Dryness can be an issue when smoking chicken, but not at Smoke. Smoke is a small but sleek fast-casual restaurant. So grab your sweetie, your bestie, your buddy, your honey, or go it alone and head to Smoke.





You May Also Like


Food & Drink

Chef Cindy Wolf Talks James Beard, Julia Child, and Home Cooking

The Charleston co-owner and executive chef joins the podcast to talk about her illustrious career in food.

Food & Drink

Review: Moby Dick House of Kabob

Real-deal kabobs at Moby Dick are memorably delicious.

Food & Drink

The Reign of Spain

Fifty years after its opening, Restaurante Tio Pepe endures.


Food & Drink

How to Avoid Holiday Stress Eating

Advice from a nutritionist on how to combat poor eating habits this time of year.

On The Town

Celebrate Ravens Playoff Run at These Bars and Tailgates

Drink specials and purple parties happening this wild-card weekend.

In Good Taste

Donna's Cafe To Close in The Village of Cross Keys

The beloved restaurant serves its final meal this Sunday.

The Boss Dawg pulled pork and bacon-glaze sandwich. -Photography by Scott Suchman

Connect With Us

Most Read


Baltimore Museum of Art Has Rare “Sold Out” Day, Thanks to John Waters: Hundreds line up to see the Waters retrospective before it closes.

Women Legislators Emerge in Record Numbers: Nonprofit Emerge Maryland identifies and trains women seeking political office in the state—and it’s working.

Tavern Talk: The White Oak Tavern delights in Ellicott City.

Season of Suck: Fifty years ago, the Colts, O’s, and Bullets all fell to upstarts from New York when it mattered most.

Why Baltimore Restaurant Week Feels More Important Than Ever: Despite recent closures, industry looks forward to starting 2019 on a high note.