HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >


Caribbean BBQ in Stillwater, MN

Just yesterday a new spot opened in Stillwater that needs to be on your list should your travels take you east. It's called Smalley's Barbeque and PIRATE BAR! I am all over the bar as they have the largest RUM selection I have seen besides my own. Available by the pour, or 'walk the plank' and select three. Topping the list at $50 is the 25-year old English Harbour from Antigua. I recommend Zaya, neat with a side of rocks. Mount Gay Extra Old and Ron Maltusalem Gran Reserva are also winners and the price points on these are perfect for exploration. Arrrrrrgh!

Food...I was told that the jerk is a recipe direct from the jerk-masters in Jamaica. I did the half chicken, It was very solid, allbeit a bit sweeter than I like. They also roast and smoke using imported pimenton wood. Kewl! Sides included a spicy slaw and perhaps the most satisfying mac and cheese I have ever had.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for the heads up dellwood. I've been waiting for this. Coincidentally I'm doing some hard labor on my land over in Wisconsin this weekend so it might be a handy stop. I'll be sure to add to the report if I make it.

    1. Just to clarify this is in MN.

      This sounds like a tourist trap and one I'd gladly fall into. Arrggghhh indeed.


      Mary FKA shepirate

      1. It should be noted that Smalley's is the latest Restraunt from the folks behind La Belle Vie and Solara. It should be very, very good: http://www.startribune.com/entertainm...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Danny

          I stopped in to check it out on Monday and had the Blackbeard (blackberry mojito) and it was delicious! I'm not much of a sweet drink drinker but it was pretty darn tasty. I had the chips with queso and salsa and was equally impressed but Chowhounds beware, the stuff is HOT! The mac n' cheese was really good, they offer tiny sides of a number of things for about $4. Overall, I'd say so far so good, but they will definitely have to expand their menu offerings to survive the winter months in Stillwater. May I suggest adding a few entrees that do not involve bbq or jerk sauce? It's great, don't get me wrong, I just feel like they're not catering to a wide enough audience right now.

          1. re: Stillwater Girl

            "May I suggest adding a few entrees that do not involve bbq or jerk sauce? It's great, don't get me wrong, I just feel like they're not catering to a wide enough audience right now."

            I completely and enthusiastically disagree. No disrespect, but reading about their FOCUS (see the Star Trib article above about pimento wood/backyard/etc.) made me 100 times more excited about the place. I am sick of the seemingly mandated requirement that restaurants of every stripe have to have walleye or salmon or some dumbed down entry-level food to try and "cater to a wide audience".

            A BBQ place should sell BBQ and do a darned (stonger word omitted) good job of it.

            Catering to a wide audience results in the Cheesecake Factory and Americanized Asian places. I completely applaud a place like this or Punch or Big Daddy's BBQ or the Nook or Kopplin's that has a clear identity, puts their best and most focused product on the table and blows you away with it.

        2. shiver me timbers. jerk over pimento wood in stillwater. that sounds, absolutely, freaking, FANTASTIC!!!!

          1. We ate there last night. I food was good (small portions) and tasty. Service was off-key. Maybe because it was still too new. Our server forgot the extra jerk sauce and did not give me an itemized bill. She also forgot some other items. She was nice but that only goes so far. Some other server brought us the wrong food and then we told him we did not order this. It has potential though. But what is up with the new young servers now? It seems like they can't remember things in detail. I hate when they do this memory thing when they take your order. And then it get screwed up. Maybe if they wrote it down, they would not have this problem. The whole memory game does not impress me especially when they forget stuff. And they wonder why they did not get a good tip. And if they don't like it at that restaurant, they just switch restaurants. Maybe it is hard to get good servers now?

            And everyone complains about the economy. Maybe some servers should appreciate a JOB. Sorry, I had to vent.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mikecho

              Don't you think that the owners sometimes make that decision to present a certain ambiance? You're right, it takes some practice to be able to do that, and some people aren't suited to it. Good to hear multiple people are finding the food good. Did others think the jerk seasoning is too sweet? And what's with mac & cheese at a bbq joint??

              And if you need some help getting into pirate mode, here's some resources:

              How to Talk Like a Pirate:

              Glossary for the Official British TLAP Day:

            2. Had dinner at Smalley's last night and mostly loved it. I had the pork shoulder, my wife had chicken. We had crab cakes for the appetizer. We had sweet potatoes, mac and cheese, baked beans, and corn bread for our sides. We loved all of it but the shoulder. It was very dull flavored compared to everything else. The sauces helped (and their jerk sauces are divine, but sweet as previously noted (Not a problem for me)) but will definitely venture to brisket and ribs next time.

              As to the comments regarding adding something other than bbq and jerk sauced items... HELL NO! The place is what it is, if you want something else, go THERE for it. Here's to hoping for Smalley's great success and limited menu.

              1. A dissenting opinion - here's the cross post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/526669

                1. Couldn't believe they weren't open today. Rode the bikes for fathers day over there, and it looked like they'd closed the place down. Had to settle for generic bar food. I had been there Sat night with some buddies, and it was pretty crowded, so I figured they would be open.

                  I had the brisket on Sat night with the sweet potatoes and cornbread. Sweet potatoes were ok, but I thought the cornbread was fantastic.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mech_e

                    Bummer! I was thinking of going there next Sunday, because the Mpls-St.Paul magazine's listing for Smalley's says that it's open on Sundays. Guess not, though.

                    Does anyone know if they have a web site? Yeah, I could call, but telephones are so last century...


                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Ummm, had a really nice dinner there on Sunday night, June 15. Lots of people there. Maybe they were just closed for lunch.

                      Hua Gung

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        So I tried calling Smalley's for their hours, and it sounds like they have the same ambivalence for telephones that I have. Their message is really confusing - recited really fast in a stupid pirate accent, and I had to call twice to get it all.

                        So it sounds like they do only dinner during the week, and lunch on weekends only. It also sounds like they're closed on Saturday evenings - or maybe it's bar only/no dining - but that can't be right!

                        Anyway, I created a places link and typed in the lunch and dinner hours that I heard. If anyone has the real story, feel free to update my info.


                        Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque
                        423 Main Street S, Stillwater, MN

                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                          Smalley's returned my call, and a very nice person explained the dining hours - dinner only for now (Sun-Thurs 5-10, Fri-Sat 5-11), plus a happy hour on weekdays from 4-5 (limited appetizers and tidbits). The bar is open later (standard bar hours, I think).

                          They're working on adding lunch hours in the near future, but have nothing definite now.

                          So I've updated the Places link with this info.


                    2. We got to Smalley's on Sunday night. I liked it a lot.

                      I had the chicken & brisket combo with medium jerk sauce. Mr. Tastebud had the pork combo (ribs, shoulder, and half a hot link) with BBQ sauce. We shared tastes, of course (that was in our wedding vows!). My favorite was the jerk chicken - moist and juicy, with very flavorful skin. It was even better with a drop of the hottest jerk sauce (there are bottles of each sauce at the table). Mr. Tastebud liked the pork shoulder best - I thought it was boring, but he loved it.

                      I'm not sure I'd drive out from the Twin Cities to eat at Smalley's, but it's a nice option when you're there.

                      The only negatives for me: It's very noisy - there are three levels that are open all the way up, with all hard surfaces and loud music. And it feels like a corporate restaurant, which surprises me given the association with Solera and La Belle Vie. But I can overlook that because the food is good.


                      P.S. Stillwater Girl - thanks for the tip about the blackberry mojito. It was delicious! And you're right, it's also quite sweet - it would make a good dessert.