This is Dave--he has a brewery.
This is Daniel--he has a noodle shop.
One day Dave and Daniel got together and threw around some ideas about opening a restaurant attached to Dave's new brewery in Dogpatch. I'm sure it was something like--"Hey, I brew beer and you cook food, let's combine those and see what we come up with." And VIOLA! The idea came to fruition and they opened a place called Smokestack--a combination brewery and smoke house where beer and meat merge.
Behind this unassuming door along a stretch of 3rd street in Dogpatch that already hosts Serpentine, Hard Knox, etc., sits the latest in a line of smoked meat barbecue joints that have recently popped around town. Meat--it's the new thing. It's a large industrial space with the bar along one side and the kitchen along the other.
I talked the SO into trying the place out and it is a good thing as the layout is a little confusing and you kind of need a couple folks to do the following: 1 needs to get food, 1 needs to get the beers and 1 needs to scope out and snag a place to sit. Logistics wise I'd say it's something that needs to be worked out as I watched folks come in the door who hadn't been there before and they looked around a bit confused about what to do. I sent the SO off to get the beer while I looked over the larger chalkboard menu attached to a pole.
The menu only helped a little so I spent time going back and forth between where the meat was and the side dishes were to try and decide what to get. Meat is served by the pound here which seems like it could get pricey. The place was starting to fill up so I sucked it up and here's what I ordered:
1/2 pound brisket, 1/2 pound sausage, macaroni salad, grilled corn, Parker House rolls and a strawberry tart. This is what $50 worth of food looks like, which in the grand scheme of food in San Francisco isn't all that bad for 2 people (beer will add another $10). Plus, it was enough food to fill up both me and the SO, which is saying something as we are both big eaters.
The brisket was nicely done and served hot. A little juicy, a little fat, a little charred bark on the outside and a pleasant smokey flavor that wasn't overwhelming made this the star meat on the tray. We liked the brisket a lot and I'll say it is one of the better ones in town. They have sauces on the table--Memphis sweetish, South Carolina mustard vinegar and an interesting spicy kimchi barbecue one. All tasty in their own way but the brisket really was just fine on its own. The sausage was a mildly spicy affair chock full of gnarly chunks of coarse ground meat and for whatever reason I was all that fond of it. Maybe it was the texture or the array of herbs and spices in it, something about it just didn't agree with my tastebuds and I tried all of the sauces with it but neither I nor the SO were able to finish it off. I will however, recommend the kimchi sauce as it was a spicy twist on traditional sauces. But keep that in mind if you don't like the heat as it will pretty much overpower whatever you put it on.
The macaroni salad was served cold with a touch of mayo, diced red onion, finely chopped broccoli and maybe just a hint of paprika. And I really liked it more than I thought I would. It was tasty, crunchy and a perfect compliment to the brisket. It would make any picnic or barbecue cookout proud. Plus it was a pretty hefty serving size so kudos for that also. The grilled harissa corn was a daily special and we managed to snag the last one of the day. I'm a sucker for corn on the cob and this was cooked perfectly, served hot and the spicy kick was a great twist, I didn't miss butter at all. The rolls were also warm, fluffy, slightly sweet bread deliciousness. And while here I could have used some butter they went well with a slab of brisket between them.
Desserts were done by Marla Bakery and while they had some cookies, they were on the small side so I opted for the strawberry tart. It had a lovely crumbly shortbread crust that was buttery, salty and sweet all at the same time. The berries were bursting sweet and it was all covered in a fresh creme fraiche whose tang complimented the berries well. It was a great summer treat to end a meal on.
Overall I would recommend trying Smokestack if you are into beer and meat on any level. Chef Daniel Lee is smoking some nice slabs of meat and brewmeister Dave McLean is pairing it all up with over 20 beers on tap. I'm not the biggest beer aficionado and had a pale ale while there because I knew it wasn't too hoppy and wouldn't dominate any flavors of the food I got. But they have plenty to choose from so if you if like dark, amber or pale you'll definitely be able to find something to your taste.
If you go, take along some friends so you can split up the tasks and then converge on one communal dining table to enjoy all the beer and meat you can stand. It will be like a giant outdoor barbecue with all your friends--except it's inside in a large industrial space--which is why it will be loud if the place is crowded. But don't let that or the fact that you have to take the T-Line down 3rd to get there. Once you get there it will all wash away in a tidal wave of beer and smoked meat and macaroni salad and barbecue sauce and rolls and well you get the picture.