New Smokehouse 21 Offshoot Brings Amazing BBQ to SE Morrison

The Pacific Northwest may not be famous for its barbecue, but in recent years Portland has been working to alter that view. Chef BJ Smith, in particular, has been making large strides for the city in terms of BBQ with his first venture, Smokehouse 21, and now its SE offshoot, Smokehouse Tavern. While there are other great BBQ restaurants in the city, we believe Smokehouse 21 sports the best cocktail menu of them, as well as exceptional food. 

The Tavern took over the space vacated by the defunct Light Bar, located in the same residential strip mall as the Italian joint Nostrana. It’s not spacious, but the long wooden bar fits numerous patrons, and tables for parties of all size line the opposite wall. Diners are observed by a variety of animal heads that make appropriate decor for a meat oriented restaurant.

The menu is simple, with the usual array of platters, sides and sandwiches. Smoked meat is naturally the focus, and all of it is delicious, especially the ribs, pork cheeks and brisket. The brisket burnt-ends, however, vie for the best thing on the menu. Platters are massive and come with two sides, but ordering à la carte with a side or two offers ample food for a moderate price—meat is served by 1/4 pound for $4–$5, or single item for orders such as hot links and spare ribs at around $3.

Heavily garnished deviled eggs seem to be a popular trend in Portland these days, and the Tavern’s eggs don’t fail to compete, topped with the delectable house hot-link sausages ($1.5 each). The cornbread may be bit sweet for some, but the kitchen nails it with the braised greens, serving what are probably the best in Portland. 

Beer and wine are available at Smokehouse Tavern, but you would be remiss to skip the cocktail menu, crafted by Mike Shea of Rum Club. Each drink is intended to pair well with barbecue. Classics like the Hemingway Daiquiri or Vieux Carre are well executed, but the stand outs are the original cocktails. Shea has long proved his ability to take what looks like a mess on paper and create something complex but balanced. The Second Story is no exception—a delightful concoction of rye whiskey, Punt e Mes, lime, maple syrup, Allspice Dram and Peychaud’s bitters. This is true of the Knuckle Duster as well, with Irish and Scotch Whiskeys, Benedictine, Apricot Liqueur, bitters and lemon oil.

The drinks, both classic and original, are $10. Shea’s touch here is clear, and anyone familiar with Rum Club would be able to make it out, but it’s clearly designed for a more BBQ friendly pairing.

Smokehouse Tavern is open Monday through Friday, 11 AM–12 AM, and Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM–12 AM.

Smokehouse Tavern, 1401 SE Morrison St.; 971-279-4850
 
Top image via Smokehouse Tavern, Drinks by Alex Frane

Tags: Cocktails, Food
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