Smokey’s BBQ is another Upper County gem that is well-worth the trip.

I almost made this just an Instagram post of drool-inducing pictures of succulent meat but then I decided that I have more that I want to say about Smokey’s BBQ than is appropriate for Instagram.

At their very cool location in South Cle Elum, adjacent to the train museum in the old train depot on the Iron Horse trail, Smokey’s offers BBQ that is pretty standard and dang delicious. We had a family meal for 2-3 people plus some garlic fries and it fed four adults and two kids for lunch. It included ribs, chicken, and another meat of your choice–we opted for the brisket–as well as two sides. It was all very, very good and is the kind of dining experience where you’ve barely even tasted your food before you’re trying to figure out when you can return.

Family Feast for 2-3. Brisket, chicken, ribs, cornbread, mac and cheese, red beans and rice. 

What I want to say about Smokey’s is something that relates to my recent critical review of another establishment. In that review (I’m being intentionally vague but it’s easy to find), I urged all restaurants to make an effort to not include bad food on their menu, even if it’s something that they really want to serve. Smokey’s clearly understands this and I’ll explain why.

After seeing their menu online I was so excited that fried chicken is listed as their Sunday special. Fried chicken isn’t something I eat often but I like it enough that it’s one of several things that I learned to make for myself after not being able to find a good option in Kittitas County. I was disappointed when the cashier told me that they didn’t have fried chicken today but I was so glad that she explained why. It turns out they just released the new menu, including the fried chicken, but then decided that the batter recipe isn’t as good as they want it to be. So, get this: they decided not to serve it until it was up to their high standards. I appreciate that dedication to quality and I can’t wait to get my hands on the fried chicken that lives up to the rest of Smokey’s menu and their strong reputation.

I look forward to getting back to Smokey’s and enjoying that big patio on another gorgeous sunny day. It’s a really special place and I’m so glad to have finally tried it. One last note. If like me you ate at the ill-fated and short-lived Ellensburg location and weren’t particularly impressed, I implore you to head up to South Cle Elum and give them another chance.  

Smokey’s Bar-B-Que, 801 Milwaukee Ave, South Cle Elum, WA 98943.

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