True barbecue is rare to find in Southern California. For the melting pot of cultures from all over the world that we are, we’ve somehow overlooked some of the amazing regional cuisines in America. That’s not to say that there are not plenty of imitators who mass produce what is traditionally very slow cooked less desired cuts of beef or pork. We have a couple of those already who pass the “legal” definition of barbecue. But Santa Clarita has struggled to attract and keep a legitimate barbecue restaurant.
So, when word came that a new barbecue restaurant was coming to town, and opening on Main Street in Old Town Newhall, something immediately felt different. Something felt good about it. You knew that they were serious, taking a stab at what is quickly becoming one of the most desired areas for restaurants in the valley, and not an abandoned taco joint in a strip mall sandwiched between a oil change shop and a trade school for medical assistants (though, to be fair, some of the best barbecue in the South comes out of shacks at rural gas stations).
For a while, it appeared that it might be too good to be true. What was promised to be open by summer of 2015 slowly slipped away as a number of delays popped up in securing permits and utility services. Finally, a falling out between the two original partners threatened the opening of the restaurant entirely.
A few months later, there is fantastic news to report: Southern Smoke BBQ and Brewhouse is open, and it’s the real deal.
Southern Smoke has a menu full of traditional barbecue fare including brisket, pulled pork, ribs and hot link sausages. Incorporating a California favorite, they offer a Santa Maria style smoked tri-tip that is made perfectly. Each of them can be ordered on their own with a couple of delicious side dishes prepared in-house from scratch and your choice of two of their house made barbecue sauces.
Each of these is made properly according to true tradition with the brisket enjoying a great texture and is served fresh sliced and moist. The ribs are perfectly cooked to just the right doneness where you take a bite and the mark from it stays in the meat and doesn’t slide off all in one piece (the true mark of an overcooked rib).
In addition, a number of sandwiches are offered including sliders made from barbecue meats including the brisket and pulled pork. A number of burgers including a peanut butter and jelly burger and the widow maker featuring a towering stack of beef, bacon, egg and cheese round out the menu for the meat eaters.
The menu includes lighter offerings for those who might not fancy something so rich. Chicken is smoked in the massive smoker in the kitchen. Wild Alaskan salmon and scallops are among the fish options available.
Southern Smoke takes pride in offering traditional barbecue side dishes, and does a great job with them. Favorites like collard greens, fried okra, mac and cheese, barbecue beans and fried pickles are all authentic and delicious. But the one not to be missed is the hoecake. This cornbread style dish, topped with honey butter, bacon and green onions, is made from scratch when you order, so it takes about 15 minutes to come out. Do yourself a favor and order at least one for the table the moment you sit down.
Eventually, the other component of Southern Smoke BBQ and Brewhouse will come into play with over 30 beers available many from custom taps. Among them are local favorites like Wolf Creek and Pocock, but also legendary barbecue beer Shiner Bock from Texas. Several wines will also be offered to match the menu. The license to serve alcoholic beverages is slightly delayed, so they’re not currently available, but hope to be soon.
Southern Smoke is a great addition to Old Town Newhall, adding another high quality restaurant to the area that already boasts Newhall Refinery, El Trocadero, and Persia Lounge. More and more, Main Street a great place to head out to for a great lunch or dinner. But on it’s own, it is simply the best barbecue restaurant in the Santa Clarita Valley, if not in all of Northern Los Angeles County.
Editor’s Note: The author, and a number of eatSCV contributors have been the invited guests of Southern Smoke BBQ and Brewhouse for a complimentary tasting and preview. The photos and opinions in this review reflect a visit in which the author paid full price and received no discount or compensation.
*photos Copyright 2016 R.E. Photography, used with permission. All rights reserved.
Southern Smoke BBQ and Brewhouse
24255 Main Street
Santa Clarita, California
Open 7 Days, 11am – 10pm