Review: Smoke City Char Bar, DTLA

If you like Texas smoked BBQ, head to Smoke City Char Bar. I had the most outrageous meal at this popular eatery. A local favorite, Smoke City Char Bar offers an eclectic assortment of meats, salads, sandwiches and delicious sides, all with its own signature slant.

Dining Room, Smoke City Char Bar; All photos by Richard Bilow; courtesy of ETG;

The appetizers and sides alone will set your taste buds alive. My husband Richard (ETG co-founder and photographer) loves his protein, while I tend to choose a lot more vegetables in addition to some meat dishes. He was in heaven, but once I tasted this smoked to perfection magic, he had a contender to deal with. I was immediately a fan of Smoke City Char Bar.

We ordered one appetizer – Crisp Fried Smoked Pork Belly, with several sides. The pork belly was amazing. It was beautifully presented on a bed of baby arugula greens over creamy Burrata cheese, heirloom tomatoes, with balsamic gastrique. If you love bacon you will love this dish. Crunchy and chewy, it was filled with flavor.

Crisp Fried Smoked Pork Belly; Skillet Cornbread

The Cornbread for two was so buttery, with a crisp edge and moist inside. I was told it was made with freshly grilled shucked corn – so tasty.

Texas style BBQ

We chose two entrees to share. The Beef Tri-Tip and the Baby Back Ribs. The Tri-Tip, smoked with Cherry and Mesquite, was incredible. It was so tender and delicious. It came with four sauces – Harissa Molasses, Cayenne Honey, Mustard Seed – Apple Cider, and Soy Ginger.

My husband, the meat connoisseur, pointed out that it was best without any additional sauce. He was right. It was infused with flavor and delicious just as is. Still, I love the varied tastes of all those sauces. It felt like I had the benefit of tasting four entrees at one dinner. The Tri-Tip was a perfect pairing with the Argentinian Malbec (Septima Mendoza), a full-bodied red wine with notes of plum and blackberry.

Beef Tri-Tip with four scrumptious sauces

Our second entree arrived at the table. The Baby Back Ribs are smoked with Cherry and Mesquite for over six hours. The meat was so tender that it literally fell off the bone, and the rub was glorious. The Elote Street Corn was an engaging companion to the ribs, as the spice of the pork ribs and the sweetness of the corn intermingled to elevate the flavors of both. A generous coating of crumbled Cotija cheese helped make the corn a highlight of our meal for sure.

The Baby Back Rib, Elote Street Corn

Southern Sides

Additional sides were all spectacular as well. My favorite was the Burnt Ends Mac & Cheese. It included chunks of Smoke City Char Bar’s famous brisket. I could have just eaten this for dinner alone, but instead I took some home and enjoyed it the next day. I cannot forget to mention the Collard Greens, as they were exceptional. They don’t typically photograph well, but trust me, they were an integral part of my meal. I especially loved the back-handed spice that suddenly hit you – so good.

Glorious Desserts

Strawberry shortcake is the restaurant’s most popular dessert. However I could not resist trying the S’More, which was not yet on the menu. Each side of the crisp graham cracker was slathered with delicious melted chocolate to complement the generous amount of toasted marshmallow inside. This was among the best s’mores I’ve ever tasted!

Once you discover Smoke City Char Bar, you’ll wanna go back again and again. With two happy hours, an early and a late night one, why wait? You can also find selected items from their menu at the Arrowlodge Tap Room just down the street.

For additional info about this gem of a restaurant, see the Smoke City Char Bar website at

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