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Smokey Joes in Teaneck

Am I the only who was not impressed at all by Smokey Joes and will not be going back...

Maybe it was a bad night...but I felt that the place pretty much stunk.

The service wasn't great, even though it wasn't too busy. The host was the only nice part of the place. He was eager to seat us right away. The server didn't seem to care what was going on and took forever for water, to take our order, etc....

The cornbread wasn't fresh. We ordered buffalo wings as an appetizer and they didn't have the sour cream sauce for it. The buffalo wings didn't taste any different than anywhere else.

My husband got the BBQ brisket sandwich. It was awful. The brisket was sliced paper thin and dried out and over doused with an awful sweet BBQ sauce. It was enedible.
My Portabello burger had no flavor. The fries were coldish. The sliced burger veggies that it came with looked as it had been transferred from someone elses plate.

It's really too bad. I was hoping this novelty restaurant would turn into a "go-to" place.

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  1. BS"D

    As with any restaurant, you'll find a spectrum of opinion. There have been negatives and positives written here in the past. It's pretty much been covered. I think the general concensus , though, has been that service was pretty good, so unless things have deteriorated fast, you probably just caught the server on an "off day". As far as the barbecue, as to the food, it looks like either you like it or you don't, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt that it's consistent in terms of taste. I will say that brisket is difficult to smoke in such a way that the collagen breaks down without the meat getting somewhat dry, and you can find dry brisket in any nonkosher BBQ joint as well, even those known for their excellent brisket. And one of the past criticisms of SJ has been the sweet sauce, though it has also been one of the things that some people like best. But aside from BBQ, SJ does a variety. Good things have been written about the brisket chili, good things have been written about their burger, about their chicken mole.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ganeden

      If you go to their website you can send them comments about the food, of course they only seem to post the good comments but I'm sure they are reading the bad as well:

      http://www.smokeyjoesbbq.com/menus.php

    2. I'm sorry you had a bad experience there. Frankly, I think most reviewers are so dissapointed how far downhill Dougies has gone, that anything better by comparison is considered great. Perhaps Joe's is experiencing a similar slide... Let's hope not. The owner is usually there, and you really should tactfully give him your feedback under the premise he'll try to make it up to you, and perhaps be more vigilant with quality control.

      1. I went a few months ago and we were quite diassappointed. Th eportions especially left a lot to be desired. A tiny bowl of the "special" cole slaw could not have had more than two forkfuls, a small piece of cornbread, etc. I ordered a "large" order of ribs, was quite surprised when I received four small bony pieces. What would a regular order be? The meat was definitely over rated, way over rated. I have made homemade pulled beef sandwiches that are way better than anything we had there.

        1. We walked in tonight (Sunday) at about 5 PM. We were two people with no reservations. One table was occupied. Someone asked us how many we were and asked us to wait a moment. About two minutes later, someone approached us and asked us if we had reservations. When we said no he said very loudly that they were completely booked and could not seat us that night and then proceeded to warmly greet the people behind us. Needless to say this left a really bad taste in our mouths-- we would have sat at the counter had they offered it to us, or even waited a few minutes to see if there were cancellations. I've never eaten anywhere that wouldn't seat you, even they have to make you wait a long time. I'm not sure I want to go back and try it.

          6 Replies
          1. re: curly0114

            in all fairness, Sunday night is every restaurants busiest night,
            and most probably they booked a party or two, so despite
            being empty when you arrived, I'm sure they had a business
            reason to turn you away, however distressing it may be.
            fortunately there are many Kosher places on that block,
            so I'm sure this didn't upset your dinner plans very much.

            1. re: Joe Berger

              I totally understand this. BUt there was something very off-putting about the way he told us that both my husband and I noticed. We were more bothered by this than the fact that they had no room.

              1. re: curly0114

                We too were at the restaurant last night (Sunday) as a party of six. As expected it was crowded B"H, and while we had reservations we did have to wait. I'm a regular restaurant frequenter - this week alone it was three. (Four of us don't live anywhere near Bergen County). Over the years you can write books about restaurants, their service, food, atmosphere and even their rest rooms. The proprietor Smokey Joe went out of his way, over and above the norm to make us feel comfortable and welcome with some appetizers. The service was good - the food was good, only one 'wish I ordered something else'. This guy will make it bacause he truly knows how to treat people. Kol H'Kovod. There will always be unhappy people, some justified and some not. I'm sure if you went in during the week you can have any table you wanted and be seated immediately. Be thankful you have such a wonderful, certainly change of pace - clean and good food with reasonable prices right in your backyard. Ata boy Joe ! .

                1. re: RichardGee

                  All I meant to say is that he could have handled the situation in a much nicer way. He could have called us aside and told us that he had no room, or told us to come back at 9:00, instead he basically shouted it in our faces, in front of others too, in a way that said "we don't really care about your business," That just left a bad taste in our mouths about the place. I also am a regular restaurant frequenter and have never experienced this. Restaurants always try to accommodate our party of two somehow, and this gives us the choice of whether we want to stay or not.

                  I am also surprised that after my experience Sunday your party was made to wait. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of turning away people without reservations?

                  I probably will go back and try it (I live in Teaneck) just to see for myself if it is worth all the hype.

                  1. re: curly0114

                    I hear you. That kind of treatment is not tolerable. If and when you do go back, and you should - during your meal you should call him over and call the incident to his attention - you'd be remiss not to. As far as our reservations, there was a party with 'nudgie' kids, the poor children were hungry and cranky too. So we accommodated. No one wants to listen to kids screaming.

                    Tonight we're off to Highland Park.

                    1. re: RichardGee

                      For those Chowhounders, who are not satisfied with Smokey Joes, you have the opportunity to air your grievances by emailing them at

                      smokey@smokeyjoesbbq.com

                      They do respond.

          2. So here's what I don't understand. Their website says they're glatt kosher. Yet their menu features chicken wings with sour cream sauce. Huh? You got your meat and your dairy together on the same table? And they serve ribs. Uh, what sort of ribs? The menu says they serve a half rack and a full rack -- so they can't be serving beef ribs, because it would take a big crew o'hungry folks to polish off a rack of beef ribs. So -- lamb ribs? Deer ribs?

            'splain, please?

            2 Replies
            1. re: ozhead

              The sour cream is fake, pareve stuff, a la Tofutti. There's a little starred note at the bottom of the menu explaining this, at least in real life.

              1. re: ozhead

                And, yes, the ribs are beef. I don't know how they come so small either.

              2. See the earlier posts on this! I agree with you. Very average. I don't know how they are staying in biz.

                1. Our family ordered take out from Smokey Joes last night.
                  I got the taco salad, which was basically Romain lettuce, a piece of squishy tomato, and some cucumber served in a fried tortilla shell with pieces of corn sprinkled over it and strips of dried up rubbery beef on top. ick. We also got a chicken burrito, which wasn't that great, a guacamole burger witch was drowning in guacamole, the wings which were not at all interesting, and some guacamole and chips. The chips were fried flour tortillas, which is odd since usually Mexican style restaurants serve corn chips, plus they were super greasy. Sort of like eating fried won ton chips at a Chinese place. The guacamole was good, and the tiny little thing of fresh salsa was good, but the rest was mediocre at best. I don't know about the service or decor, but the food was not so good, and if you are actually looking for Tex-Mex, you will not find it here.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lilsysweety

                    From what I recall of authentic Mexican restaurants, fried flour tortillas are authentic and corn chips are not. I actually love Smokey Joe's chips, salsa, and guacamole. When my family has ordered out from Smokey's, the food has always been consistently good and flavorful, especially the smoked chicken. We recently ate in the restaurant and the hamburger I had wasn't as good as the first hamburger I had there in the summer. But overall, it's still a good restaurant with good service--at least in my experience.

                    1. re: teachermom

                      WOW!
                      I had no idea that Chowhound had become so intolerant. I simply gave my food review of a restaurant. If y'all don't agree thats fine. My main problem with Smokeys is the same as with most kosher restaurants. They serve food that is so dumbed down to the bland American palate that it removes all trace of authentic seasoning. It's boring for a food lover to find yet another watered down kosher restaurant.

                      1. re: lilsysweety

                        BS"D

                        "My main problem with Smokeys is the same as with most kosher restaurants. They serve food that is so dumbed down to the bland American palate that it removes all trace of authentic seasoning. It's boring for a food lover to find yet another watered down kosher restaurant."

                        Without in any way commenting on Smokey Joe's, I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment you expressed in general concerning kosher food. It occurs in a big way in the nonkosher market as well. The only difference is that there are so many nonJews, enough obviously prefer distinctive food to have created a cottage industry for it, small in comparison to the total amount of food out there, but quite visible. It costs a lot of money to establish a restaurant, so proprietors tend to try to hedge their bets by going for the average in terms of taste, aroma, texture and price in a given cuisine. Average, though, never stands out. I'm afraid it's probably too small a market to realistically hope to have the best examples of any cuisine be kosher.

                  2. I was there last week for the first time and had a great experience. The waitress was attentive, got all our orders exactly right, offered helpful suggestions when asked, and told us ahead of time what the kitchen was out of. The food came quickly and all at the same time and cooked as ordered, and everyone enjoyed what they ordered. The portions were not especially huge but certainly not small, and the desserts were pretty large. It was such a good experience that I almost have to wonder if all the negative commenters even went to the same restaurant I did.

                    1. I ate @ SJ this week, and I found the experience great, I started with the Chili A++++ then I had the ribs and chicken THIS WAS REAL BBQ not the junk the other kosher restaurants call "BBQ". I was so impressed I bought two containers of dry rub to try at home (note it works great on meat a bit too strong for chicken cutlets use sparingly) all in all I would definitely recommend the experience.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: kosher4life

                        I had a great experience at Smokey Joe's erev Shavuot. I had the guacamole burger and the meat itself was absolutely delicious, as was the guacamole. The fries were also excellent. My husband got the sampler platter and talked about the ribs all through Shavuot. We were very impressed by the food and found the service to be excellent as well (granted, there was no one there). We will definitely be going back even though we live nowhere near Teaneck! My only regrets are that we didn't order any appetizers and that we didn't realize that one could purchase the dry rub to go. YUM!

                      2. Okay--I FINALLY had a chance to go to Smokey Joe's last weekend with my wife and son. We were at a birthday party 2 blocks away in Teaneck and it was all Milchigs...

                        With the 9 days coming up it was good to enjoy some fleishigs... (By the way-they have a specially modified menu for the 9 days including fish-so if you need a break-it's worth the trip...)

                        Now for full disclosure, Joe of Smokey Joe's and I were college suite mates and I've known him for over 20 years...

                        That said--if I didn't like the food, I would keep my opinion completely to myself...however...here is what I wrote (edited slightly) to Joe after enjoying dinner there last Sunday:
                        --------------------------------

                        Love the BBQ. You do it right and I was proud to enjoy it!

                        Having tried treif BBQ in hundreds of cities and locations throughout this country-and world (South Africa, Israel, Egypt) and especially Texas, I know it was the real deal. The brisket, ribs & chicken were awesome. I'm not a big BBQ Chicken fan, but yours kicked it.

                        I love your rub-your creation! We've kept a kosher home since marriage and I've become shomer kashruth: love that you didn't go overboard with the salt in the rub-makes smoking kosher meat easy! I made steaks this week (mock filet (chuck tender) & minute) with the rub and it was delicious. I plan to smoke a gold tip roast (3 lbs.) that will be crusted in the rub to create a nice bark in the smoker. [My wife & son] loved the food too. I love that your chicken strips for kids was fresh!

                        ---------------------------

                        The food was outstanding. It was the real deal for BBQ. I have 2 smokers in my backyard in addition to my grill. I know how smoked meat and ribs should taste and how they need to be prepared. I can tell you that it's authentic.

                        The price is very fair for kosher fleishigs and the portions just right.

                        The corn bread is amongst my favorite. I love chunks of corn. The size is right-didn't want to fill up!

                        We had the chicken wings (Ari's which are less spicy) we loved. The carnitas (meat open tacos) were okay but I'd order more entrees next time instead. We like to try a bit of everything so we mixed it up between appetizers and entrees.

                        The service was very attentive and the food was served hot and fast.

                        The dessert was to DIE for. The apple cobbler and the chocolate mousse were amazing--I can't believe they weren't milchig!

                        We even made a play date with the couple who sat across from us. They came from more southern New Jersey (we came from Long Island) and had their daughter and son with them. They enjoyed it very much as well.

                        Again, if I didn't like it, I'd post nothing at all. Buy some of the rub--put it on steak or chicken or ribs-well worth it!

                        Did I mention my wife is a South African born Texan and knows BBQ and Braai? She loved it and thought it was authentic and delicious as well.

                        Michael

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: mickster

                          Don't shoot the messengers on this thread. The kosher consumers who don't live in the area need to know this. There isn't a restaurant in Teaneck worth spending any real money on. The Five Towns places beat them hands down. So, if you're forced to eat out there, so be it. Otherwise, be aware that it's not worth the trip. It's time Teaneck got a decent restaurant with consistently good food at reasonable prices.

                          1. re: cappucino

                            I have to be honest with you, as someone who lives in the Five Towns I have to disagree. What do we have in the Five Towns that "Beats them Hands down"? I am kind of tired of the stuff we have here as it is all the same.

                            I am curious as to what you think we have that rocks your world?

                            1. re: HungryJew

                              BS"D

                              I don't know what's inthe 5 towns now, but 10 years ago, it was mostly pretty mediocre. I ate at 1 decent restaurant, Annie Chan's, which evidently is no longer in existence under the same name. I even had friends in Cedarhurst who owned a restaurant, and I wasn't impressed. Maybe things have changed in a few years, but to my recollection, Cedarhurst and Teaneck were pretty much head to head in the culinary world. At this point, I couldn't say, as I'm out in California pretty much for the duration.

                              1. re: HungryJew

                                I guess I am just always missing the Shmulka Bernstein/Lou G. Seigel/Ratners/Delicious Dairy/Essex on Coney (more recently) experience. I want a decent deli that is always, always, always dependably good and reasonably priced with big portions and good cole slaw/crunchy pickles. A tongue and hot corned beef sandwich that just rocks and will have an appropriate size of bread to hold it. Real, consistently yummy steak fries to go with it. Crunchy (not soggy) schnitzel. Dairy-wise just normal Heimish Milchig good food that always comes out of the kitchen the same way. How about a real tuna on white with an egg cream and some boiled potato pirogen with fried onions. Okay, I know I'm in the minority, but I can't remember the last time I walked out of a restaurant not feeling ripped off and I can't remember the last time I entered one not worrying whether the food would actually taste good and be properly portioned for the price. I have been going to King David off and on for 20 years. I guess you guys don't like that stuff, but Teaneck doesn't have it. Their deli is not what it should be. Their pasta place is not what it should be. Their barbeque places are not what they should be. I remember the week Dougies opened its flagship store in Manhattan. It was damn good. And it was dependably good for a long time. I just want to be happy and well-fed if I'm going to throw down so much hard-earned money. Okay. I'll stop now.

                                1. re: cappucino

                                  Cappuciono,

                                  I understand what you are yearning for, but the truth is, those are long gone and the Kosher Pallet has moved on. People were tired of those foods, service went down and those places closed up You have been going to King David on and off for 20 years, so you yourself should know firsthand how downhill that place has gone. You can't get a 10 foot tall sandwich anymore...they give you 2 pieces of bread with 4 slices of meat on it. Maybe we look at the treif delis and see them piling on the meat....we will never get that anymore.

                                  For years people were satisfied with a good deli....get some Kishka , and hush puppy on the side, maybe some chicken a la king and they were happy. But people move on. I believe that is the reason why you think Dougies was so good. Dougies was always garbage.....but it was new, it was different, it was something we never really had before.
                                  maybe this is why we like smokey joes.....The kosher consumer has never really experienced something like that.

                                  I hear what you are yearning for but it is not to be had.

                                  1. re: HungryJew

                                    I guess, if I have to put aside the old fashioned deli with huge portions, I wish to at least get consistently good food which is not the case in Teaneck. I had a pretty good meal a few months ago at King David--no, not like days of old--but I stand by my assertion that it's still better than anything I've gotten in Teaneck in the last 3 years. I have eclectic taste in food. I can appreciate upscale French or Italian, but Sushi is getting old and there are some things that are just classic and should remain so.

                                  2. re: cappucino

                                    You lost me at "tuna on white." Feh.

                                2. re: cappucino

                                  Outside of that Falafel place on Central Ave. and Cho-sen Village (or whichever Cho-sen it is), the Five Towns is pretty desolate for foodies. I'd argue that Great Neck has it beat.

                                  I'd also argue that other than the price, you wouldn't know Smokey Joe's is kosher. Unfortunately that's the case in terms of price with almost all fleishig restaurants...considering what I paid for lunch at Mr. Broadway and Kosher Delight, I'd say Smokey Joe's is a bargain!

                                  So I'll stand by the food rating and say until you get to the level of Prime Grill or Solo then it competes with Colbeh, Abigael's, La Marais and Tevere.

                                  That is mainly due to the cuisine, not the quality because BBQ--no matter how well prepared, is not haute cuisine.

                                  I agree with Hungry Jew below.

                                  Michael

                                  1. re: mickster

                                    Other than Sushi Metsuyan and Chosen, the meat choices in the Five Towns are mediocre. I am still trying to figure out why there is a need for 3 expensive dairy/fish restaurants in the 5 Towns

                                    1. re: moonlightgraham

                                      Same reason why we need 5 pizza stores within 2 miles.

                                  2. re: cappucino

                                    I am not too familiar with Five Towns but I am familiar with Teaneck. I am a ride leader with the 5BBC, and all my rides either go to a kosher eatery or are Bring Your Own (there are other frum/kosher riders but I'm the only one who's a leader thus far). Thus far, I've lead 3 groups to the Persian Grill on W. Englewood. Each time, service is a bit slow but the food is excellent. Most of the riders are either Jews who are non-observant/kosher or non-Jews. Everyone likes the food. The prices aren't terrible. As for noise and so on, we don't really care -- we're at least 8 people if not more. In the warm weather, we do take out and go to the nearby park a block away to eat outdoors at the picnic table.

                                    I have another ride to W. Englewood coming up March 8th.
                                    Smokey Joes is interesting its a question of seating capacity. I expect the weather will not welcome eating out in the park so I need a place that I can swarm with 15-20 people. I know that if our group descends on Persian Grill at 11:30 am they can seat us all. Not at the same table but even in the big treif diners a full spring training ride group will splinter into 2-3 groups.

                                    The 5bbc has a motto: we ride to eat! That's unofficial but it is often accurate.

                                    Those interested in where I've gone with folks and where we're going next, check out my blog at http://danahudes.blogspot.com

                                    1. re: cappucino

                                      Are you saying NY Five town prices are reasonable?

                                      1. re: E2K

                                        I can't compare to Teaneck as I've never eaten in the restaurants there, but comparing 5 towns restaurants to Brooklyn I'd have to say 5 towns restaurants are more reasonable

                                      2. re: cappucino

                                        I don't know...I love Burger Bar in Cedarhurst. I like Cho-sen for Chinese (Great Neck is better) but Smokey Joe's is better than either. Don't even talk to me about King David-they have gone so far downhill in the last few years it's disgusting...

                                        Some of the new Asian Fusion places are very good but again, I love Smokey Joe's over them.

                                    2. Though the ambiance is different- I happen to like Carlos and Gabby's in Lawrence better than Smokey Joe's. (Let's see what happens when C & G opens up in its new location)

                                      The cornbread and onion jam was nice- Chocolate chicken mole was okay. I was looking for flavor and a kick. The guacamole was sweet without a sharp flavor.

                                      My friend liked the bbq brisket.

                                      1. I totally disagree with your most disappointing experience. I was at Smokeys last evening with a group of women and we all enjoyed our dinner! The food was great! We all had different dishes, from the veggie burger to fish. Of course with brisket inbetween!
                                        All 4 of us could not wait till today to order lunch from them!! Which once again turned out wonderful! DEFINETLY give it another try!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: jod115

                                          I agree that smokin Joe's sucks. I have been there twice and dissapointed both times. The food is o.k. but the portions were ridiculously small both times (even the rice) and both times it took way too long to get our food. I will not be going back.

                                          1. re: azna29

                                            We went last nite for my bday. Arrived around 8, and waited about 15 minutes for a table in the main room, where the band plays on Saturday. I would agree with the theme that this place is a mixed bag. For starters, we had the Buffalo style wings. I haven't had wings this good in a restaurant since I went to school there. We also ordered a combo platter and ribs. The ribs were great, the chicken was very good, but the brisket was tough. The sauces are very good. Lastly, either our waiter was too busy or his mind was elsewhere, as we had to keep flagging him down for the simplest things. So all in all, it was fun to try something unusual for kosher, but things could definitely improve.

                                        2. Timing seems to be key for the smoked items @ Joes (or anywhere, really) . THink about it ... properly smoked brisket takes hours and hours. So if you're looking forward to great, juicy, smoked brisket..realize that it may be been cooked overnight on Thursday into Friday morning. They are not smoking on Friday afternoon, Saturday, or even Sunday morning for Sunday lunch/dinner. Save this for mid week !
                                          Better bet on Sunday is the smoked chicken - as noted previously, very good, or the chili burger which is the "best" according to teen son. when in doubt - especially for items like chili - ask for a little taste. Joe's also has an interesting catering menu - which makes for a nice change when doing "take out" for parties or a crowd.