Where There's Smoke ...

You have to dress appropriately to eat barbecue at lunch. Well, for that matter, dinner too. Recently, I decided to give a new place a try that involved wearing something where sauce would complement my ensemble.

I pulled into a strip center on Metcalf and had no trouble parking in front of Smokey’s on the Boulevard — odd name because it’s not on Southwest nor College boulevards.

I had invited Tastebud but didn’t, as of yet, spot him trolling around, lost and pitiful. Pretty soon he called and whined, “I’m lost.” I hung up.

Owners Rob and Jason Harris did the greetings while I sat, schmoozed awhile, then decided on sampling various standards.

“Why not go all out,” said Rob, obviously thrilled to showcase his son’s culinary prowess. “Let us fix you up: ribs and brisket, pulled pork, turkey, sausage and all the required sides” (slaw, beans, potato salad, etc.).

What could I say? It was rather late for lunch in this part of the universe. As I continued to chat with Rob and chef/son Jason, Tastebud finally arrived, unapologetic. He’s from Missouri, apparently unacquainted with anything farther south than 103rd Street.

I quickly learned as I surveyed the room — decorated simply with a vibrant mural of hotrods painted on the walls — that Rob, who once built police cars and still loves cars for that matter, is a generous man.

My order came out with so many cuts and sides, I was (you’ll pardon me) in hog heaven.

“Outstanding,” I said, extending kudos to Jason. “You’re how old?” I asked, immersed in brisket. He blushed.

I continued to shake my head in awe of this youngster mastering the pit. There wasn’t a misstep in the bounty.

Succulent ribs and charred shards of burnt ends are my gauge for any BBQ joint, and both hit the mark. The brisket was lean and tender. The turkey and sausage, perfect-o. The sides handcrafted by Jason were deliberately customized. (Slab of ribs, $15.99; burnt ends, $9.99; turkey, brisket or sausage sandwich, $5.49)

“Love the slaw’s sour/sweet marinade you’ve managed ... and the potato salad — your recipe?” I asked.

“Mine, mine and mine,” he beamed.

“Not the beans,” Dad muscled in.

“It’s true, he’s responsible,” said Jason.

Beans are beans in my book. Let me stick to mac ‘n cheese, slaw or potato salad and be happy. But I do admit these beans, drowning in molasses and brown sugar with slivers of brisket, are highly recommended. (Sides, $2 to $3.99)

Tastebud finally got into the groove, adding, “Could we try some rings and fries?”

Wasn’t there a spread enough for a kingdom already in front of us? The nerve. Luckily, I was far too full to continue.

I found out Rob’s wife, Mandy, who also works at the restaurant, is an EMT. Jason had some previous culinary experience and Dad thought the idea of opening a BBQ joint would be quite an adventure.

Bold move in this town.

The Harrises are learning, but they’ve got the touch of smoke down to a fine art. I told them to pick up the phone and ask Guy Fieri to stop by.

I think he’d happily oblige. 

Smokey’s on the Boulevard
14521 Metcalf Ave.
Overland Park, Kan.
(913) 897-7427
Drive-thru available

Gloria Gale is an Overland Park-based food writer. “On the Menu” is not a restaurant
review, it is a summary of dining out in Johnson County and the metro area. 

photos: Steve Puppe