Combining two of our great loves — barbecue and tacos — will automatically get you noticed. But if the brisket isn’t tender and the tacos aren’t on-point, we’re out. Since Smokin’ Q’s opened in 2017 among a crowded field of barbecue joints, chef and partner Zachary Ladner has delighted us with his Tex-Mex approach to smoking meats.
A Texas native, Ladner pairs his traditional Central Texas barbecue — meat-focused, served on metal trays and with sauce on the side — with approachable Tex-Mex dishes such as street corn, guacamole and house-made tortillas.
While you can order combo platters ($16-$24) of pulled pork, jalapeno sausage and Texas-style spare pork ribs, the brisket remains the lone star here.
“It’s a labor of love,” he says. “It’s very easy to undercook a brisket, and it’s very easy to overcook a brisket, but it’s not easy at all to cook it to where it’s just right.”
Cooked slow and low with a mix of 50 percent oak, 25 percent ash and 25 percent hickory on a Southern Pride smoker and rubbed with a blend of salt, pepper, paprika, coriander, cinnamon and a little bit of chipotle pepper and cumin, the meat arrives fall-apart-tender.
If brisket is the soul of Smokin’ Q’s, the tacos are the heart. Ladner experiments with 14 different options, such as the Polish taco ($10), a mashup of sausage, coleslaw, french fries and barbeque sauce.
“I love tacos, that’s my favorite food,” he says. “I think that it’s just such a great vehicle for a lot of things.”
718 SOM Center Road, Mayfield Village, 440-646-0429, smokinqbbq.com
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