You know, given that the South is really the home of barbecue, it’s sure hard to find truly great ‘cue in Arkansas. Luckily, we have the Smoke Shack, home of well-smoked meat that is, at the minimum, pretty darn good.
The Smoke Shack Bar-B-Q, located just off the I-40 Morgan/Maumelle exit, has been around since practically the dawn of time. Or, the 70s. The rows of firewood out front, somewhat out of place in an urban restaurant’s parking lot, make promises the Smoke Shack’s food manages to keep.
Upon entering, customers are immediately greeted by an employee behind a counter ready to take your order from the fairly short menu located on the wall. The menu’s brevity is, however, a good sign. The Smoke Shack doesn’t play with burgers or salads; they just do barbecue—with a slew of sides.
I ordered the Jumbo Pulled Pork Sandwich without the bun. It came topped with coleslaw and fries and green beans as sides. Other choices on sides include fried okra, corn, pinto beans, or potato salad.
In the dining area are perhaps a dozen tables, covered in the red-checked tablecloths of a family picnic. Once my food arrived, I made my way over to the crockpots on a side table—the two choices of sauce are kept hot for each customer to add as they like. The sauces are sweet & spicy or traditional vinegar.
It may be difficult to believe from the photo of my meal, given the tower of house-made fries hovering over the meat, but let me assure readers that the amount of pork on the plate was substantial—so substantial, in fact, I had to have a little help finishing it off. The coleslaw in and of itself was fine, crisp and obviously fresh, but not loaded with any particular flavor—mixed in with the pork, it did add a nice crunch that I would miss were it not there. The meat itself was excellent—fresh, and reliant upon the quality of its smoke job for flavor. Add a little of the sweet sauce and you’ve got a plate of meat that’ll satisfy.
The Smoke Shack is also unbelievably priced—my entire plate, after tax, with a drink, was less than $8. Its unpretentious atmosphere allows for a comfortable dining experience for folks from all walks of life, from tradesmen on a lunch break, to families with children, to single folks simply seeking a good meal. If you’re on the road near the exit around lunch—or dinner—swing in to the Smoke Shack. It’s clean, the staff is always friendly, and you’ll get some pretty darn good BBQ.