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May 15, 2007 05:14 AM

Smokey Joe's, Teaneck NJ

I recently ate at SJs. Consensus was, if you like shoe-leather, you'll like the brisket.

We first asked the waitress if there were a place we could buy beer nearby, as they don't have a liquor license. She replied to the effect of, "I don't know, I don't drink beer."

We then ordered the corn soup, which was good, but was really garlic soup, not corn soup. The "carnitos" appetizers were tasty, but serviced on some type of rice cracker, not anything "tex" or "mex."

We ordered a burrito. Last I checked, burritos were not served on "wraps." This was tasty, but it really wasn't a burrito--more like some shish kabob meat with a little rice and refried beans.

The ribs and brisket were really dry, and, according to my Tex-Mex raised non-kosher keeping companion--could in no sense be called BBQ.

The "BBQ" chicken was quite tasty; I would recommend that.

For dessert, we ordered coffee and pie. The waitress didn't tell us there was no coffee (!); she just didn't bring it and then we asked. When the owner came over to ask how things were, we mentioned we were disappointed there was no coffee. He looked confused. He said "they do have coffees. We serve coffee. Um, sometimes have problems with that." He seemed to be as baffled as we were that there was no coffee. Why they couldn't brew another pot was beyond us (there were plenty of patrons who looked like they would enjoy some coffee).

Re the pecan pie: as my companion said, he had never met one he didn't like. til now.

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  1. BS"D

    Wow. It hardly seems like the same place I went to. While the picture painted by Wuchess reflects food far better than I was served, you, Tomby, are painting a picture of food far worse than I was served. I suspect that most diners will have a food experience somewhere between these extremes, and my experience with service, like most of those described, was quite good.

    Contrary to the statements attributed to Tomby's friend, the brisket and ribs and chicken are indeed BBQ. Each of these meats has a light smoke on it. Maybe the smoke could be more pronounced, but especially for a commercial establishment, going out on a limb to make a statement, in this case with heavy smoke, may not be a good idea, in that more people will appreciate a lighter smoke. And liberal use of a smokey sauce is also in keeping with the likes of most people- witness the amount of smoke flavored commercial BBQ sauce being sold these days. After all, if the name of the game is to make money, then appealing to the masses is in keeping with that desired result. So granted, it's not BBQ which makes a statement, but it's definitely BBQ. It may not be my cup of tea, nor Tomby's nor Tomby's friend's, but I think that chances are, people who go there will have a positive experience with the service and enjoy the food and the experience.

    4 Replies
    1. re: ganeden

      We ordered out from Smokey Joe's on Mother's Day, and were blown away by how good the food was, not to mention reasonable. We ordered one of their family packages, which was enough to feed our family of 6 with leftovers and we had:
      cornbread (delicious)
      really authentic tasting salsa, guacamole and chips
      mashed potatoes, smashed style with lots of garlic
      a whole BBQ chicken, which was really well-seasoned and very moist and tender
      a pound of brisket, which was not dry and leathery at all

      Smokey Joe's seems not to be afraid to introduce the kosher consumer to jalapeno and chipotle peppers and authentic spices. I give them a lot of credit for that! They were also incredibly friendly and when I picked up my order, one of the owners said that if I had any problems with the order or any suggestions I should call and let them know. They seem eager to create a really good restaurant. We loved the food and will most certainly go back to eat in as well as to order out.

      1. re: teachermom

        I wish that the Five Towns had a place like Smokey Joe's. I would rather have a restaurant like Smokey Joe's than another Israeli restaurant, pizza place, or even Subway (yes, even Subway).

        1. re: jeterfan

          What about carlos and gabbys cantina, or whatever it was called. Is that already not in existence?

          1. re: hindyg

            If Carlos and Gabby's had the option of cooking food on a open grill (like Mideastern restaurants do), I would be ok with it. They cook their food on a regular grill. Therefore, the food cooks in its own grease or fat. I find food more appealing if it is cooked in a way (like rotisserie or barbecue) that allows tha fat to drip off the meat into a separate area.

    2. Really, i really enjoyed myself there, the brisket was pretty tender, and the chicken was AMAZING!!!!!

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          1. I used to work down the street from Smokey Joe's and I used to go there often for lunch. I was not raised keeping kosher and I've had all sorts of authentic tex-mex in the past. Smokey Joe's offers THE BEST KOSHER MEXICAN FOOD in the NY/NJ metro area. (And yes, I've been to "the other kosher mexican place" in the five towns). Everything at Smokey Joe's is made fresh and in-house. This includes fabulous salsa, guacamole, homemade taco shells, on the "mex" side - and on the "tex" side, mouthwatering chili and the only kosher smoked ribs around.

            Everything on the menu can be made to various levels of spiciness. Joe himself is a very nice guy who will customize your order in any way he can to make you happy.

            Check it out - start with the tacos on your first visit, and then branch out and try the rest of the menu on subsequent visits.

            3 Replies
            1. re: arken42

              "THE BEST KOSHER MEXICAN FOOD in the NY/NJ" SO you agree the brisket is like shoe leather. I see it hasn't improved.

              1. re: tomby

                I was just there this past weekend and had another pleasant experience. Food was delicious and portions were generous. Service was friendly and helpful. They treat kids well too.

                I don't understand why Dougie's had a line out the door but SJ's had empty tables. The quality of the food and service is much better at SJ's. Eventually more people will realize this and the crowd will shift.

                1. re: morris

                  I have been waiting to go to Smokey Joe's since it opened and I finally got to go last week and I could not have been more dissapointed in a place.

                  I wont bore everyone with a thesis size comment but here are the main points.

                  For a place that "boasts" the only kosher wood fired smoke pit, I found the food to be completely lacking in any smoke whatsoever, to the point where I would question the authenticity of the BBQ claim. There is no way the brisket I tasted was smoked, nore the ribs or the chicken. The brisket and ribs tasted like they were cooked in a steamer and the chicken had not flavor at all.

                  When the food did finally arrive (we were some of the few in the place at the time but typically, the service was untrained and very sloppy) I can not tell you how dissapointed I was when I saw all three of my meat items ( sampler plate) slathered with some sort of sauce.

                  I was expecting real BBQ and it was no where to be found.

                  P.S. The best part of the meal was the free fountain soda refills!