(SPOT.ph) It’s been three years since Holy Smokes opened the doors that lead to the holy grail of Texas-style barbecue in the once-sleepy Poblacion neighborhood. From their beginnings as a cafeteria-style, self-service casual barbecue eatery, their latest incarnation is a full-service restaurant with a DJ set-up every Friday and Saturday right beside the bar.
“It’s really about the community [in Poblacion] and our relationship with each other that keeps all of us going here,” shares co-owner Maisa Acosta.
“After three years, what I noticed in the Poblacion area is that it’s sustainable to have a bar more than just a restaurant,” adds Juano Gutierrez, co-owner and resident pitmaster. Cocktails are now part of the regular menu, so if you’re thinking of starting your evening right, why not have the Old Fashioned (P330) with bourbon, maple syrup, bitters, orange slice brulee while waiting for your meal?
If whiskey isn’t your thing, throw caution to the wind and get yourself a Hickey (P280)—not on your neck—but with gin, orange liqueur, lemon, lime, bitters, egg white, and oregano for a smooth-yet-sharp start to your night.
Eating the USDA Beef Ribs with Mustard Herb Butter (P3,200) may make you feel like you’ve just won the rodeo. They're prepared sous vide—of course—in brisket fat, then they’re finished on the grill with mustard herb butter and served with truffle potatoes and roasted garlic, because why would you have it any other way?
For the meat-lovers who want to sit down for a set meal with no frills, the Solo Wagyu Brisket (P700) served with plain or garlic rice, coleslaw, and pickles evokes everything cowboy. Smoked in a mixture of santol, sampaloc, and caimito wood for hours on low heat, the finished product is full-flavored, juicy—it's meat done right. But pasta lovers aren’t going to feel left out here: The Marsala Mushroom Cream Pasta (P380) is fusilli, marsala wine, light cream, shiitake mushrooms, and parmesan. Pair with Purple Rain (P300) cocktail with gin, blueberry, lemon, and mint leaves as its refreshing partner for each creamy and umami-filled bite.
A new addition to the menu are the handmade pies (P120/piece, P650/box of six, P1,250/box of 12) that flaunt a crunchy and flaky pastry crust. Choose from the Brisket Empanada with Mango Habanero Jam with chopped smoked brisket, bell peppers and onion, or the Chorizo Empanada with Truffle Honey filled with homemade chorizo, mashed potato, and goat cheese—good luck having just one of these things. Enjoy the empanada flavor-explosion with the Hanky Panky (P350), made of Jameson whiskey, orange, lime, pomegranate, rosemary, and cinnamon, tickling your taste buds for the food yet to come.
Holy Smokes is also known for side dishes that can hold their own; a great example is the rustic Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Salad (P450) with lettuce, arugula, prosciutto, grilled peaches, goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, and honey balsamic dressing. Those who aren’t all that into veggies might suddenly become converts with their Roasted Broccoli Salad (P250): broccoli, lemon ranch dressing, and cranberry is a refreshing take on salad, without the leafiness that can be off-putting for some.
The Grilled Prawns with Old Bay Butter, Lemon and Spices (P520) may be off-menu, but it's certainly on point. This is has all the depth and richness that the ribs have thanks to the butter and old bay, with some bright tang from the lemon. Pairing it with the tequila-based cocktail Rosy Cheeks (P330) with orange liqueur, watermelon, and spices will give you some serious American Southern comfort-food summer vibes.
After three years in the Poblacion food scene, Holy Smokes stays true to the smoked meat tradition that first inspired it, and while they’re not going to budge, we still insist you head there, stat.
Holy Smokes is at 5834 Matilde Street corner Jacobo Street, Poblacion, Makati City.
Photos by Majoy Siason