It’s the smell that hits you first, as you walk just into Smokehouse on Main.
That heady scent of smoking meat mixes perfectly with the rustic brick, wood and wrought iron dining room, where there’s always blues playing and people enjoying some seriously delicious barbecue.
You can take a seat at one of a dozen at the bar, where there are 24 craft beers on tap and a long wine list, or slide into one of the comfortable booth/table hybrids. If it’s particularly nice weather, there’s also a patio that’s prime for people watching as they make their way around this busy section of Old Town Newhall.
Like the Beastie Boys song, “Low and slow is the tempo” to Smokehouse on Main’s signature meats. Unlike grilling, which is fast and produces a sear, smoking takes hours and creates decadent texture and flavor.
Smokehouse on Main offers single- to triple-combo plates ($15 to $36) featuring brisket, pulled pork, chicken, tri tip, beef or pork ribs and Texas hot links.
The brisket ($19) is heavenly, better than any that I’ve had across these United States (and I’ve traveled the country twice, including Texas). It’s a fork-tender, savory flavor bomb. They’ll ask if you want it lean or fatty. By all means, choose the latter, which adds an extra layer of richness. (If you’re gonna do barbecue, I say, go all out).
Texas hot links are snappy, spicy and succulent, while the smoky meat on ribs and chicken practically falls off the bone. And the tri tip is tender.
It’s not just the smoker that makes the barbecue here extra special, according to owner Cherie McGraham.
“Our rubs hold the juice inside while flavoring the meat,” she said.
Six barbecue sauces made in house, many with a regional flair, are placed on the table to enhance the meat including Georgia Mustard, East Carolina Vinegar Pepper, and California or Kansas City barbecue. (Bottles of sauce are available for purchase at $7 each).
Beyond barbecue, there are sandwiches ($12 to $16), salads ($6 to $15), and burgers ($14.50 to $18.50) on the menu. The Kansas City Burger ($14.50) has a bit of sweet crunch from coleslaw that mingles deliciously with the thick, juicy, single-grind brisket patty, sharp melted cheddar and tangy barbecue sauce.
Most items are served your choice of a side or two, from the sharp and creamy Macaroni n’ Cheese and silky collard greens, both infused with bits of bacon and/or Andouille sausage. Other standouts include chunky red-skinned garlic mashed potatoes and perfectly crispy fries or barrel tots.
McGraham, who took over the former Southern Smoke in July, has kept the original menu largely intact, but added a few extra items, such as grilled asparagus, seasonal vegetables, and a stellar street style roasted corn with garlic butter and all the fixins’.
“I love veggies,” she said.
McGraham also loves people, which is why she became a restauranteur for the first time after 17 years in the real estate business.
“It’s like meeting friends every time I sit someone at a table. It feels like everyone’s coming to my home to hang out and have a great meal,” she said.
Soon, people will be coming to lounge and listen to live music when McGraham expands Smokehouse on Main with a second venue right next store that will feature two bars, a late-night grub menu, and a stage to showcase rock and blues bands until 1 a.m.
“It’s going to be an extension of the restaurant and great for large parties,” she said. “I want this to be the place that everyone comes to after going to the movies or the theater.”
Smokehouse on Main, 24255 Main Street, Newhall. Open Monday to Thursday, 11 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 10 pm, and Sunday 9 am to 9 pm (Sunday brunch served 9 am to noon). Catering available. For more information, call (661) 888-4585 or visit www.smokehouseonmain.com.