A dark blue truck on the side of the road in Dublin has a message for customers, who often line up oustide to wait for a plate of food: “Life’s too short to eat bad BBQ.”
Holy Smokes BBQ is so popular, in fact, that the owners are moving from their quaint food truck to a permanent restaurant space in less than a month.
Videographer Jenna Eason and I drove from Macon to Dublin to try the food and review the barbecue joint for #FoodieFriday by Positively 478.
There technically isn’t an appetizer section on the Holy Smokes menu, but if you are hungry and want a snack before your meal, there are plenty of options.
We tried a mini order of the smoked chicken nachos for $4.75. The dish starts with a base of round tortilla chips and is topped with a heaping pile of smoked chicken. Jalapeno peppers are added next, and the dish is finished off with cheese and a drizzle of barbecue sauce.
The chicken was juicy and had lots of flavor, and the chips were crispy. The flavors mix really well overall. Guests could also split a quesadilla or order individual tacos to serve as a meal starter.
Smoked meats are the focal point of the Holy Smokes menu, and guests have the option to make their own plates, which come with two sides.
- A two-meat plate costs $12.
- A three-meat plate costs $14.50.
- If you’re really hungry or want to try a variety, a four-meat plate costs $16.75.
We ordered a three-meat plate with brisket, ribs and burnt ends. Then we added a two-meat plate and got more ribs and pulled pork.
Holy Smokes started as a competition cooking team, so the meats are cooked by using recipes that helped the owners win food competitions.
The ribs are seasoned with the competition rub and it’s easy to tell that they are smoked with care. They didn’t fall off the bone but had just the right pull to them, proving they were perfectly cooked.
The pulled pork is seasoned just right and doesn’t overpower you with a salty flavor, Jenna said. The brisket and burnt ends were flavorful, juicy, and tender. Each bite was one to be savored.
Burnt ends are cuts from the fatty part of the brisket rather than the flat section where most of the meat is sliced. It’s rendered down, and Holy Smokes’ burnt ends melt in your mouth.
Holy Smokes also serves a variety of barbecue sauces, including a traditional, vinegar-based sauce, a Carolina mustard sauce and Mrs. Griffin’s, a local favorite from Macon.
We also tried a selection of sides: baked beans, loaded potato salad, Brunswick stew and coleslaw. The mayonnaise-based loaded potato salad was the standout. The texture was creamy, and it was one of the best potato salads I’ve ever had — and I usually prefer a mustard base.
There are a few dessert options on the Holy Smokes menu, but we both chose to try the banana pudding.
It was the perfect end to the meal, and the pudding had a unique, fluffy texture. I quickly devoured my portion, as it was too tasty to savor each bite.
Long story short: Don’t pass up dessert at Holy Smokes. It’s worth the calories.
More on Holy Smokes BBQ and the move:
Holy Smokes started as a husband and wife who wanted to take their barbecue recipes to reality TV.
Dionn and Gary Lanton have won multiple barbecue grand championship competitions and competed on “BBQ Pitmasters,” where they took home the top prize.
The food truck gave the Lantons the opportunity to experiment. Now they’re ready for a full-blown restaurant.
Gary Lanton says that preparing good smoked barbecue is similar to the process of making craft beer:
- Pay attention to the small details.
- Treat every customer like the judge of a cooking competition, where you have to hook skeptics on the first bite.
“We really tried to bring everything over that we learned in competition world over to this and make it really good. We just don’t cut corners,” he said. “This is what you would call a craft barbecue.”
Holy Smokes BBQ’s new location is at 1100 Hillcrest Parkway, in the Kroger shopping center in Dublin.
Gary says the new restaurant will give them more space and get customers out of the heat in summer months. The recipes will not change.
The Lantons are hopeful they can add more regulars at their new restaurant.
“If I can get someone to come by and try it, I can make them a customer,” Gary said. “It is never hit or miss.”