Ask the typical Angelino what they know about Santa Clarita and ‘ridiculous bbq’ likely won’t be anywhere near the list of things that come to mind. But ask anyone who’s been to Southern Smoke, and they’ll likely start to salivate at the very mention of the name. Yes, pit masters, home grillers, smoker enthusiasts and fans of all things American comfort food, you’ve got a solid reason to venture up north to get your hands on what the local community has treasured since day one.
Southern Smoke is appropriately located smack in the middle of downtown Newhall, a cute little strip that plays home to the ‘Walk of the Western Stars.’ And if John Wayne was still around, you bet he’d be a regular. A massive menu that covers all things brisket, tri-tip, ribs, sausage and chicken, each dripping with succulent flavor and made all the more better with nearly a dozen creative bbq sauces. One of the biggest challenges is choosing which smoker-born masterpiece to focus on, and that doesn’t even account for Southern Smoke’s artful selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads, seafood dishes and even chicken ‘n’ waffles.
Let’s backtrack a second though, and talk about Southern Hospitality. Where else in LA are you going to find a place this good that starts you off with complimentary hush puppies and what seems like crack-infused honey butter? Oh, and if you really can’t decide what to order, they’ll bring out a complimentary meat sampler to give you a taste of four top-sellers. Does this now make it even harder to decide? Absolutely, but that’s a first-world problem most guests are happy to deal with.
In the end, those beef ribs are hard to beat, ordered with extra Jack Daniel’s bbq sauce that caramelizes with the heat for added sweetness. It’s a coin-toss with their two briskets, one firmer with more smoky flavor, the other juicier with decadent consistency. Served with a 5-cheese blend mac ‘n’ cheese, hearty mashed potatoes or a dozen other side options.
If it’s burgers you’re after, Southern Smoke’s creations are as creative as they are delicious. You can’t go wrong with the bacon blue cheese, nor the Kansas City. And if you’re feeling adventurous, the PB&J may be up your alley. Yes, it’s exactly as it sounds. To go the extra mile, order just a smidge of the ‘53’ bbq sauce…it ranks 6 million on the Scolville scale, which means it’s spiciness level borders boiling-lava hot. Wash it down with one of the many craft beers on tap, or perhaps a nice wine or soju cocktail.
Dessert is a bonus round if you have the room. The deep-fried bread pudding is as rich as you’d imagine, served with delectable bourbon vanilla sauce and bourbon maple syrup. The monster cookie is your classic cast-iron pizookie, and the Texas canoli gets a gold star for creativity by deep-frying cheesecake wrapped in phyllo dough.
There’s a good reason why there’s an hour-long wait at Southern Smoke most nights. Come prepared; it’s well worth-it.
Southern Smoke BBQ and Brewhouse is located at 24255 Main St, Santa Clarita, CA 91321. Open 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Tue – Thur, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Fri, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m. Sat, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sun. Closed Mon. Avg. out-the-door price for split appetizer, entrée, side and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$40/person. For more information call (661) 888-4585, [or (661) 505-7192 if from a Sprint cell phone] or visit Southern Smoke online.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.