Last stop in Cowtown before heading back to Oil City. A quick yelp search by fellow travel buddy @alyssahindle yielded not many options, and so again, to the rescue, another recommendation by @karbuthnot24. I really sought to satisfy a serious ‘cue craving, appropriate, given that the Calgary Stampede was in town, and well… when it comes to beef, apparently you can’t beat Alberta Beef.After a bit of navigational confusion, turns out that Holy Smoke BBQ, @karbuthnot24’s hole in the wall grail, was only a few blocks from our mapped route hope. With no line outside, or inside, I was a little bit apprehensive, as I’m used to the 2-hour wait of Phil’s BBQ in San Diego, CA.
Entering, I was half expecting either a bearded summer-santa with a gruff voice named Bubba, or perhaps a rough-around-the-edges Paula Deen type restauranteur. Surprisingly, I was greeted by a few, friendly Filipino faces, who, on cue, fired up the Tagalog. Yes, I get that a lot, and no, I don’t speak Tagalog.
The place, like the menu, is quite small, a bit like a sandwich shop or deli. The wonderful smell of hickory smoked meat, mopped with any number of spicy barbecue sauces, and unmistakable smell of burnt sugar/tomato of the charred ends was a welcomed bouquet of aroma.
Without hesitation, I asked what the house-favorite was. Between the two of us were ravenously hungry, yet eager to get on the road. So we went with a Chopped beef Brisket ($8.99) and a Smoked chicken ($8.99), with sides of coleslaw and potato salad. Washed down with some sweet tea ($1.99) and homemade lemonade ($2.49)
As we awaited our order, we were directed to the massive line-up of various sauces. Yes, I wanted to try them all, but we settled on about half a dozen varieties to sample.
In a word, delectable! The brisket, while oft overdone in any place not-Texas, was nice and moist, with a few burnt ends thrown in for measure, and topped with tangy coleslaw that wasn’t overwhelmingly mayo’d. Great texture, wonderful smoke penetration, and just enough fat to keep it interesting.
Even the kaiser rolls had a nice, slightly crusty exterior, beautifully spongy interior yet still held it’s integrity to perform it’s meat-delivering duties. Lightly buttered, it yielded a perfect meat-to-bun ratio; something that is overlooked in a good sandwich.
The smoked chicken, again, one of those dishes generally overcooked to dryness, truly delivered. If the chicken is brined properly, it will tend to absorb and retain the juices that keep the meat succulent, even to the last bite. What’s the problem, not saucy enough? Pile on one of the 17 custom made sauces, ranging from cloyingly sweet molasses mop juice, or the lip smacking, throat-burning-in-the-best-way spicy mama sauce.
This…. This place is true-blue-BBQ. Not to be missed if you’re in the aptly named Cow Town, AB. Seriously. Don’t. Miss. This. Place. Please….
One of the highest honors I can give a place, and not many on this blog for these discerning palates.
A+, my good lads!