It’s a risky business transitioning from a food truck to a fixed address. There’s always something a little renegade about the truck; we’re willing to forgive the absence of (some) niceties, the obligation to sit (or stand) in surroundings that are frequently less than tranquil. And then there’s the immediacy of having your plate or wrap handed down to you from the window — often from the cook him (or her)self. This is how Smoke Shack made its enviable barbecue reputation, operating out of a truck at the intersection of Nacogdoches and Loop 410. It’s still there and it’s still good. But inevitably, there’s also the urge to settle down. Smoke Shack’s owners found a place to do just that on Broadway near the Witte, taking over the former location of a Mexican restaurant.. There are light fixtures fashioned from Mason jars and even BBQ grills. And there are lines. For the most part, Smoke Shack II manages to deal with them, and any delays seem to be tolerated by a midday audience blending families (with remarkably well-behaved kids) and other diners apparently not in much of a hurry. Also, for the most part the barbecue passes muster. The brisket is still some of the best to be had in a town lying just to the west of Texas’ true BBQ belt, moist, smoky and sporting that desirable rosy ring. The sausage is good, the pulled pork less so — though it, too, has improved from the early days. The outstanding ribs are meaty, tender and sweetly glazed. The sauce also sports a little sweetness. But we would go to Smoke Shack for the fried okra alone, were smitten by the cheesy-chunky mashed potatoes and found the vinegar slaw with crumbled feta oddly appealing. Sandwiches, sliders and fried chicken justify the Southern Kitchen part of the name — that and the okra.
Now with two locations in ’09, one can rotate to both.