We’re happy to say that now it’s here, bringing BARBEQUE to the good people on the West Side of Downtown Disney! Let’s take a look at this new hangout!
With the addition of The Smokehouse, House of Blues is practically a mini-complex! Everything that was previously part of House of Blues still exists: from Crossroads (the Table Service restaurant) to the box office and performance venue, and the merchandise store.
Coming from Cirque du Soleil, you’ll find Crossroads first on your left. Next comes the outdoor bar and new courtyard for The Smokehouse, then the venue, and finally the box office (tickets) and retail location. The Smokehouse juts out a bit in front of the courtyard.
Amid the assortment of artwork and wonderfully random sculptures in the outside area, The Smokehouse itself is rather simple, yet keeps with the rustic theme and feel of the area with its “tin” structure.
The sign on top tells you everything you need to know!
Guests are welcome to enjoy the ample seating in the courtyard behind the beautiful wrought-iron gates. It’s a great spot in the daytime, but I’m really looking forward to enjoying it in the evening when all the lights shine.
You’ll enjoy a bit more of the cool, unique art that this space is known for back here as well.
But the best part is, you may have the chance to enjoy live music during your meal! On the first day, musicians performed from 3:00 – 5:00 pm, and 6:00 – 11:00 pm to celebrate the opening.
Hours will vary, but boy, it is pretty terrific when it happens.
There is just something about sitting outside on a gorgeous, slightly breezy Florida afternoon and eating barbeque to the tune of Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” that just screams “vacation memories!” More simply put: this is just a GREAT space, and I can easily picture enjoying more time here.
I said “barbeque,” didn’t I? Well then, let’s have at it!
The menu is simple: you have your choice of five main entrees: a Pulled Pork or Chicken Sandwich, Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich, St. Louis Ribs – Half Rack, or a Smoked Turkey Leg. (There’s also a Hot Dog available, in case someone in your party is “traditional BBQ”-averse).
Sides are what you’d expect: Potato Chips, Cole Slaw, and Baked Beans. There is also a small assortment of sweets available (candy, cookies, brownies), which I thought was a nice touch for anyone looking for an easy snack for their Downtown Disney stroll (though we’d probably recommend you head on over to Cookes of Dublin and score a doh bar instead — just sayin’).
Oh… and we’ll be back to check out Happy Hour, for sure 😉 !
Onto the food! First up: the Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich.
The description is a “slow smoked beef brisket topped with smoked tomato BBQ sauce on a brioche bun.” You’ll notice that my sauce was actually served on the side (this was not by request, just how it came). Fine by me, as I like having some control over the amount of sauce on my sandwich.
What impressed me right away was the texture of brisket. It was super tender – not at all tough, which I’ve unfortunately experienced with brisket before. I was happily surprised!
My second favorite part was the brioche bun. It was really soft with just a slightly grilled, buttery flavor. It was also quite light, so I didn’t feel entirely stuffed with bread and could enjoy more of the brisket. (All three sandwiches on the menu are served on the brioche bun.)
What was lacking to me was the smoky flavor I was hoping for. I just didn’t catch it. The meat tasted fresh and good, but I was looking for something more in that regard.
Next, get those moist towelettes ready, ‘cuz you’re gonna need ‘em!
How ‘bout a Half Rack of St Louis Ribs?
I kid you not: the minute I picked up that first rib, the meat just fell off the bone. LOVE that. For the second time in a row, I was wowed by how juicy and tender the meat was.
The ribs are topped with a generous amount of smoked tomato BBQ sauce. This sauce was much thicker than the sauce I received on the side with the brisket, to help it stick to the ribs.
However, I preferred the lighter sauce that came with the brisket, so I’m glad I had some to dip for two reasons. One, the brisket sauce tasted more like a traditional BBQ, whereas the sauce on the Ribs had an emphasis on the tomato flavor. Second, there is more meat on those bones than you think when you see the dish, so I was happy to have some extra sauce on hand. You can request an extra side of sauce at the ordering station, if you like.
The meat here is seriously good. Still, I’ll say it again: I was craving more of a smoky flavor with the ribs as well.
I think some folks will be happy to know that there is now a place to grab a Smoked Turkey Leg in Downtown Disney! I placed my very first ever Turkey Leg order at The Smokehouse, and I gotta say, this was the surprise of the bunch because it really delivered that smoky taste I was searching for!
I don’t think this one is quite as big as the Jumbo Turkey Legs served in the Parks, but it’s PLENTY huge. The skin was deliciously crispy, and the meat was steaming hot, juicy, and flavorful. The words of many came back to me: “For turkey… it sorta tastes like bacon!”
You’ll still likely never catch me strolling around Disney World, Turkey Leg in hand. After the meat on top, I’m pretty much done. But if you’re on the Turkey Leg Fence, The Smokehouse might be a good place to try one, thanks to its slightly lower price point than you’ll find in the Parks.
Just a note: for now, The Smokehouse is not on the Disney Dining Plan. This is subject to change, however; it is so new that contracts have not yet been negotiated.
I’m really glad The Smokehouse has arrived on the West Side. The food is casual and fun with quality ingredients. But what will bring me back is the atmosphere. The outdoor seating area enhanced with live music elevates The Smokehouse from a nice place to grab a quick bite before a show to an experience that can stand on its own.
Are you excited about this addition to the Downtown Disney food scene? Please let us know with a comment!