Archive | Restaurant Review RSS feed for this section

Smiley Guys Smokehouse

11 Aug
Smiley Guys sign

Sign over Smiley Guy’s kitchen

I have a confession: We love Smiley Guys Smokehouse.

Heading into Smiley Guys.

Heading in to Smiley Guys.

We go there every chance we get, which isn’t nearly often enough because it is 40 miles away in Grass Valley California.  We were in Grass Valley last night for the Nevada County Fair (best county fair ever!) and stopped by Smiley Guy’s on the way to grab some dinner.  BBQ is better than fair food any day.

The menu has a good variety of meat choices – including tri-tip and tempeh, which we don’t often see at BBQ joints.  They dry smoke all the meats with a robust pellet mixture.  If you like smoke, you’re gonna get it here.  First you choose your meat,  then your pick how you want it served – sandwich, salad, or  platter.  You can also buy meat by weight.   Oooh, and the sides!!  In my opinion this is what sets them apart from other local joints.  Everything is home made and the portions are large.  Hand-cut fries – yum!  And the home made sweet potato chips are great too.  We haven’t had a side yet here that we haven’t loved.

Honestly – we have really enjoyed everything we have tried here over the years.  It is hard to decide what to order because you have to pick between trying something new and something you already know you love.

HOT!!! wings.

HOT!!! wings.

Last night we started off with some hot wings.  The menu has a few “small plates”, and this was our first time trying any of them.  These may be the best wings I have ever eaten!!! They make their own hot wing sauce and it is HOT!  It includes a variety of peppers, including habaneros, and they have done a great job making it spicy without making it bitter.  And its also not super vinegary like many sauces are.  Its just perfect.  But be warned – its hot.  You’ll want some ranch for dipping and a cold beverage to douse the fire.

Plate o' Pork

Plate o’ Pork

Allen decided to go straight for the meat and pass the sides.  He ordered a half pound of the pulled pork and topped it with their homemade Texas BBQ sauce.  Tender, moist, hand pulled and delicious.  I stole a few bites and dunked it in some of the very tasty Memphis sauce.  This is good stuff.

Pulled pork sandwich and slaw.

Pulled pork sandwich and slaw.

If you can’t tell by know, I live with some pulled pork lovin’ boys.  Jake ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of slaw.  Same juicy, smoky pork on a freshly sliced french roll.  He topped it with the Anja sauce, which he describes as a mild sweet bbq sauce.  Like all the other sides, the slaw is made in store.  Its crunchy with a mild sauce and a bit of celery seed.  The slaw may be my least favorite thing on the menu, but its still pretty good (I think Allen’s spicy slaw creations have spoiled me).

Worlds Best Cobb Salad

Worlds Best Cobb Salad

Right now they have a cobb salad on special.  I love cobb salads, so I had to try it.  A fresh mix of spring greens are topped with tons of blue cheese, smoked chicken, bacon, avocado, eggs, tomatoes and onions.  I topped it with their delicious homemade ranch dressing.  The smokey chicken pairs perfectly with the blue cheese.  This was the best cobb salad I’ve ever had!  And the portion was huge – you could easily split it with another person, throw in a small plate appetizer and have a very full meal.  I really hope they make this a permanent menu item.

A few more important things to note.  The service is great.  Even though its a causal dining experience where you order at a counter, the staff stopped by to see if we were happy with our food and answered all my questions about how they run their smoker and make their wing sauce.  The also have a big selection of beers, including lots of northern California microbreweries.  Allen loves that they have North Coast Brewing’s Scrimshaw pilsner on tap.  Its yet another thing that keeps bringing us back.

Who needs fair games?

Who needs fair games?

Besides great food, they also have a fun atmosphere.  With a pool table and darts, its a great place to hang out on a Saturday night.  Heck, I almost didn’t want to leave to go to the fair.

I can’t say enough good things about Smiley Guys.  We have eaten there at least five times now and always walk away full and happy.  Find a reason to drive up to Grass Valley and “get yer belly full”.  You’ll be glad you did.

Pork Plundering!!!

9 Aug

20130808_120114

There has been a pig-napping in Auburn!  Super Porky, the mascot of the local BBQ joint, the Flying Pig, was stolen over the weekend.  The local newspaper, local radio station, and a Sacramento TV station have all reported about Porky’s disappearance.  The owners have even placed posters around town and offered a reward for his safe return (I think they are paying in pulled pork).

Flying Pig

Flying Pig

Being a good BBQ hunter, I thought it was best for me to visit the crime scene. I stopped by during lunch to offer my investigative services and grab some lunch.  Well, ok, I just stopped by to grab some lunch, but I did ask a few questions. The Flying Pig is a family owned business that has been operating for about a year and a half.  Their menu is centered around the “Central Texas Market Style” servings of their meats: brisket, pulled pork, ribs, turkey, and polish sausage.  Market style means they sell the meat by the pound, and you can order portions ranging from a quarter of a pound to 40 pounds.  All meat comes with a serving of corn bread.  They also offer a number of sandwiches featuring their smoked meats and three sides: potato salad, coleslaw, and beans.  Lastly,   they serve three kinds of dessert:  pineapple upside-down cake, fruit cobbler and banana pudding.

Pulled Pork Lunch

Pulled Pork Lunch

In honor of Porky, I ordered some pulled pork and a side of coleslaw.  I really liked how I could order as much meat as I wanted, depending on how hungry I was.  Today I ordered ⅓ a pound, which was just right for lunch.  The meat came pre-sauced, but bottles of extra sauce are available on each table.  They only have one sauce here – a red sauce which is lightly sweet and tangy, with a bit of spice.  It was really good – I even dipped my corn bread in it!  The coleslaw is made with a chipotle aioli. At first the flavor seemed a little bland, but the heat kinda snuck up on me and by the end I was really digging it.  The best part, all of that food was just over $6 – about the cost of a fast food combo, but way better!

Rib Special

Rib Special

On the way out, I noticed that Thursdays is their rib special – half a rack for $7.49.  Why didn’t I see that before I ordered?!?!  Oh well, a reason to come back with Mr. BBQHunter.

And I will be back.  This is the best BBQ in Auburn, hands down.  And the best part, the people that own it are super friendly and do a lot for the community – its the kind of local business we like to support.  And hopefully, they’ll find their pig soon.  On the bright side, the theft has resulted in lots of free advertising, and I hope it brings them many new customers.

Restuarant Review – Bam Dazy BBQ

3 Aug

We were running some errands in town and decided to grab some food at Bam Dazy BBQ in Auburn.

Bam Dazy BBQ

Bam Dazy BBQ

I was a little worried when only one other car was in the parking lot at 5:30 on a Saturday night.  I also couldn’t smell any smoke and the bbq outside didnt look like it had seen fire in quite some time.

The menu consisted of platters and sandwiches featuring ribs, pulled pork, brisket and chicken.  The had a variety of sides, including cole slaw, potato salad, fries, onion rings, beans and macaroni and cheese.  The full menu can be viewed on the Bam Dazy website.  I ordered the brisket platter with cole slaw and sweet potato fries.  Allen orded the pulled pork sandwich with macaroni and cheese.  And Jake ordered the pulled pork melt with fries.

Sauce choices.

Sauce choices.

While we waiting for our food, we sampled the sauces provided at each table.  The Hog Sauce was sweet and didn’t have much in the way of spice.  The Southern Heat was spicy and tangy – kind of like a Carolina style sauce.  And the black berry was kinda gross – this sweet, fruity syrup might work on vanilla ice cream, but I didn’t want it near meat.

Brisket platter

Brisket platter

I was really disappointed in my platter.  The brisket was very dry and lacked flavor – no sign of any rub and zero smoke flavor. I poured on the Southern Heat sauce, which made the meat a bit better, but it still wasn’t great.   I was looking forward to the sweet potato fries, as Yelp reviews raved about them.  But they were disappointing too, as they were under-cooked and mushy.  The slaw was probably the best thing on the platter, but the sauce seemed to be little more than mayo with some celery salt.

Allen had eaten half his pulled pork sandwich by the time I was done photographing my food, so I didn’t bother with a photo.  His pork was also very dry and lacked smokiness.  He said the mac n cheese was “decent” but reminded him of the Stouffers brand I used to make.

Pulled Pork Melt

Pulled Pork Melt

I thought Jake’s sandwich was pretty gross, but he said it was “just ok”.  He didn’t like it well enough to eat more than half of it, which I think says something when an active, teenage boy passes on food.  The sandwich had the same dry tasteless pulled pork, swiss cheese, slaw and a spicy pineapple sauce.  Jake thought the pineapple sauce didn’t go well with the slaw and wishes he had asked for the slaw to be left off the sandwich.  I didn’t see or taste any sign of the cheese, which was probably best because I don’t think it would have meshed well with the pineapple sauce.  Jake did manage to eat all the fries, which he thought were pretty good.

As we were walking back to the car, Allen said the simple review would be “Don’t Bother.”  I really wanted to like this place – we love to support local businesses and wish we had a really great BBQ place near home.  But Bam Dazy isn’t it.  In the end, I wished we had saved our time and money and grabbed a take out burger on the drive home instead.

Lunch at Sierra Grill Smokehouse

30 Jul
Sierra Grill

Sierra Grill

Jake and I were kicking around Auburn today and decided to grab lunch at the Sierra Grill Smokehouse at 2515 Grass Valley Highway.  Allen and I had eaten here years ago when it was under a different owner and hadn’t been impressed enough to return.  But over the past few weeks I had heard some good things about the food and decided it was time to give the Sierra Grill a second chance.

It was “Taco Tuesday” with a special of 4 tacos for $5, your choice of pork, beef or chicken.  The dinning room was pretty full for 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, and most folks around us were eating the taco special – so they must be pretty good. I’m assuming they are made with the smoked pork, brisket or chicken that is available for their other lunch items.

The menu had lots of options with their smoked meats: sandwiches, salads, stuffed potatoes, and platters.  They also offer burgers, steaks, and ribs as well as lots of appetizer choices.  Jake and I decided to pass on the tacos and go for more traditional BBQ house menu items.  I purchased the Sierra Salad and Jake got one of the stuffed potatoes.

20130730_132317

Sierra Salad with brisket

The Sierra Salad is a chopped salad topped with your your choice of smoked brisket, chicken, or pulled pork. It also has corn, black beans, crunchy tortillas, tomatoes, and avocado. It comes with an ample portion of homemade ranch dressing that is made using their barbecue sauce. It was yummy and paired great with the smokiness of the brisket.

20130730_132323

Baked potato stuffed with pulled pork

Jake got a giant baked potato with pulled pork. It was huge! It was stuffed with a full serving of pork with bbq sauce, smothered with gooey cheddar cheese, and topped with chives.  Just eating the insides was enough for a meal, but the skin may have been the best part. The skin had been brushed with butter and spices, making it a little crispy and very tasty.

Overall, this was a great lunch and much better than my first experience. My only complaint is I wished the smoke was a little heavier. They use a pellet fed smoker with a mix apple and oak. The subtle taste probably works well for most of their customers, but I would have liked a bit more.  I will go back though.  The salad was killer and a great treat for a workday lunch.

%d bloggers like this: