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News! and Review: The Smokehouse at House of Blues Opens in Orlando’s Downtown Disney

Last week we let you know that The Smokehouse, a Counter Service location at Downtown Disney’s House of Blues, was “Coming Soon.”

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!

Welcome to The Smokehouse!

Welcome to The Smokehouse!

Atmosphere

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.

The Smokehouse across from Disney Quest

The Smokehouse across from Disney Quest

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.

Left to right: end of The Smokehouse, the venue, and the box office

Left to right: end of The Smokehouse, the venue, and the box office

Side view of The Smokehouse from the box office

Side view of The Smokehouse from the box office

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 building

The building

The sign on top tells you everything you need to know!

BBQ!

BBQ!

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.

Wrought-Iron entrance into the courtyard

Wrought-Iron entrance into the courtyard

Seating... love the lights!

Seating… love the lights!

Courtyard seating

Courtyard seating

You’ll enjoy a bit more of the cool, unique art that this space is known for back here as well.

Artwork

Artwork

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.

Live music

Live music

Enjoy the tunes!

Enjoy the tunes!

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.

Eats

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).

The Smokehouse Menu

The Smokehouse Menu

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.

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw

Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich with House-made Cole Slaw

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!

Brisket close-up

Brisket close-up

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.)

Brioche Bun

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!

A must!

A must!

How ‘bout a Half Rack of St Louis Ribs?

St. Louis Ribs – Half Rack

St. Louis Ribs – Half Rack

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.

St. Louis Ribs close-up

St. Louis Ribs close-up

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.

BBQ sauce on the side

BBQ sauce on the side

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!

Smoked Turkey Leg

Smoked Turkey Leg

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!”

Smoked Turkey Leg

Smoked Turkey Leg

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.

The Smokehouse

The Smokehouse

Overall

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!

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24 Comments

  1. Lala says:

    Ribs should not actually fall off the bone. They should be tender enough to pull off fairly easily. Ribs that fall off the bone like that generally indicates that they have been boiled – a cardinal sin of real BBQ.
    Between that and the fact you stated they lacked smoke flavor, my guess is that they are indeed boiled.

  2. Alan says:

    This is a welcomed addition to the Westside. Let’s hope the food lives up to the vibe of the House of Blues. I wonder if Aaron Sanchez is involved with this menu?

  3. Frank says:

    Did I miss the hours of operation??
    Thx.
    Frank

  4. On the plus side for the lack of smoke flavor, I can’t stand the taste of the fake liquid smoke additive that some places use. I would rather the smoke flavor be less intense and natural than have the taste of a smoke-flavored additive.

  5. Jeff says:

    I just commented on the blueberry cupcake post that preceded this one and mentioned how photographs can make food seem smaller. On that note, my first thought was how small the portions looked here. I’d probably be ordering what you did, the brisket sandwich, ribs, and for me personally, the pulled pork sandwich rather than the turkey leg. The side cups also look small, and I see you had at least two cups of slaw it seems. I’d probably do a couple cups of beans myself. So now my total bill for barbeque would be $38.95 plus tax just for myself, never mind my wife. I know Disney pricing is always higher than the outside world, and I’m comfortable with that. However, for that price for something such as barbeque (I can get some really good quality barbecue at home in Atlanta for less than $70 for my wife and I, including tax and tip), I’d rather do an all you can eat buffet for that price. I really hope the portions are bigger than they appear.

    I’ve posted in the past, it would be really helpful if reviewers, myself included, would pose some common object next to foods to show relative size that readers at home could comprehend. I’ve done it on occasion, and I know it’s a pain, but it’s so helpful to realize what we’re getting for our money.

  6. Becca Porter says:

    Lala, I totally agree about the ribs. Plus, I way prefer them unsauced, and just dry rubbed.

    Liquid smoke is real smoke though. It’s just distilled smoke. Not that you need it on real smoked BBQ.

  7. John says:

    Sounds good – but still sounds like Disney needs a “real” BBQ place. The smoke is what makes the BBQ – not the sauce., IMHO. And as for ribs falling off the bone, I’ve never boiled a rack of ribs in my life and just about every batch I slow smoke in my home smoker “falls off the bone”. Now if only the temperature would poke it’s head up a bit in my neck of the woods, I’m starting to feel like smoking a batch of something.

  8. Eric says:

    The sandwich looks tiny when compaired to the ramikins of cole slaw and bbq sauce and the wet wipe package. Also the ribs, if thats a half a slab then that animal was tiny.

  9. Jenna says:

    St. Louis-style barbecue is mostly direct grilling with no smoke flavor, so the saucy, non-smoky ribs are true to that distinct style of barbecue. It’s a regional variation, not a lack of authenticity.

  10. Corey says:

    Did they spell barbeque that way on purpose? (BARBQUE)???

  11. Chris says:

    Actually ribs that fall of the bone generally have been slow cooked for many hours not boiled as Lala has stated. So these ribs are probably cooked all day and they look yummy. Will have to try when my family gets down there.

  12. Thanks, Becca. That makes sense, regarding Liquid Smoke. I guess it’s just a little intense for me as an additive/flavoring.

    Re: Turkey legs. The turkey legs have that bacon-like flavor due to brine injections.

  13. Wendy says:

    I didn’t see Alan Sanchez’s name in conjunction with The Smokehouse (his name appears on signs specifically in front of Crossroads), but I’ll see what I can find out!

    Hours are flexible this week with the start-up. I’m going to stop by again on my next DTD trip later this week to see what’s been established, and will keep you posted :).

    Jeff – just checked out your photo! I remember once using a Ruler app to find out the size of an item ;), but I think your idea of the common object is an improvement over that!

  14. Essie says:

    I like BBQ and we have an excellent one close to my home. DTD has too many favorite eating places already for me, so with a good place near home I probably will skip this place in favor of EOS and the WPE.

  15. Hayden says:

    This looks so delicious! I can not wait to try the bbq sandwich!

  16. Angelina says:

    I soooooo want bbq for dinner now!!!!!

  17. Grace says:

    @Lala – that just isn’t true. I make ribs in the oven. I braise them. I set them atop sliced onions and pour a bottle of beer over them. The liquid doesn’t touch the meat, it’s below the meat around the onions (one bottle of beer for three slabs, so it’s not much liquid). I cover tightly with foil and cook long and slow for three hours. The meat falls off the bone and hasn’t been boiled at all. In fact, the time I did try boiling them they were sooooo tough and dry. We finish our oven braised ribs out on the grill to get the nice last minute char on the bbq sauce. Anyway, I like my meat fall off the bone personally, so this sounds good to me.

  18. Eeyore says:

    Not excited about this. No vegetarian options. And vegetarian BBQ options DO exist.

  19. Marc says:

    Grace — another technique I use a lot is to fake-smoke my ribs by rubbing them with a rub mix and wrapping them dry in aluminum foil in the oven at 200 degrees for five hours or so. Then do a quick sear with either the broil function and some sauce or on the grill outside (also with a some sauce). I would like to try your braising idea, though!

  20. Maureen says:

    My husband makes the best ribs ever-so tender they fall off the bone-and he never has boiled them. I think he does a dry rub, out on the Traeger grill, then into the oven on slow heat. Not sure of the times, all I know is I never order them out, because I have never had any that compare to his!

    I love a pulled pork sandwich, and would definitely give that a try-if I could pull myself away from the Wolfgang Puck’s pizza :)

  21. Lala says:

    I stand by what I say. You can research real BBQ and see what I say is true. I have had family members with BBQ restaurants in the KCMO/StL areas my whole life. And what I say is true about the boiling and falling off the bone. That is the quick way to tender, but also boils out all the flavor of the meat. You rib meat should not fall off the bones completely by itself. It should almost be at that point, and easy to PULL off the bone. I would not put Disney above using the shortcuts of boiling and liquid smoke. It would be much cheaper and faster. And while Liquid Smoke may be technically “real”, it is a poor substitute for actual smoking.

  22. Wendy says:

    A follow-up on the hours :)… Opening will be 11:30 am daily, and closing will be around 10:00 (I think the loose terminology for the close is because it may stay open later depending on if there are any shows/special events in the venue on any given day).

  23. Christie Zizo says:

    4Rivers here in Central Florida DOES NOT boil their ribs and the meat falls off the bone. Perhaps its the way the smoking process is, I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with the way things are done in KC. Everyone has a different process.

    There are other places to get barbecue at Disney. Flame Tree at AK is actually slightly cheaper and the portions are decent. I’d rather see some other things at DTD. The pics and prices don’t impress me at all.

    Christie

  24. Roger Lovell says:

    we were there on the 20th march .watching the guy in the pic with the guitar
    does anybody know who this is please ??

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