Smokemade Meats + Eats attracts hordes of barbecue fans to Curry Ford West | Orlando

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Is there any better barbecue in this city than the smoked meats and food at Smokemade Meats + Eats? No. No, there isn't. Pound for pound, nobody does it better than pit maestro Tyler Brunache. His regional barbecue style is centered on Central Texas, where beef, sausage, and sauce-less proteins dominate, just as the Lone Star State's barbecue gods intended. And that also means keeping the seasonings to a minimum, allowing the flavor of the meat (smoked over Florida oak) to speak for itself.

“Eat me!” said the brisket ($17) when I first laid eyes on its bark-like curves. Or maybe it was the echoes of the lady I cut off as I pulled into the restaurant's narrow parking lot. In any case, I ate it, and as the mother of Matthew McConaughey, this brisket was all clear, all clear, all clear. In fact, on that first visit, I had no choice but to order the brisket since they had run out of pretty much everything else. Just like the legendary barbecue joints in Texas, people line up as early as 8 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays outside the Hourglass District smokehouse, which is only open on weekends.

“Our ribs and turkey usually sell out first,” Brunache says, and since it was 4 p.m. on a Saturday, I expected a thin menu. So I was grateful to enjoy the fatty, 16-hour smoked brisket, simply seasoned with salt, pepper and Lawry's, with a zesty-flavored tomato-zucchini salad ($4) and a superb coleslaw with Dijon sauce ($4), crisply seasoned with kale and red onion.

click to enlarge Smokemade Meats + Eats attracts hordes of barbecue fans to Curry Ford West

My next visit was on a Friday at 2pm and the selection wasn't so meager, although they were already out of ribs, turkey and pulled pork. My buddy and I weren't worried, but the dry-brined half chicken ($13) we ordered clearly did. Over hot coals, to be exact. The resulting smoky juiciness left us both in awe of that damn cackle.

Next came the double-smoked Hot Gut sausage ($5), whose innards were seasoned with cumin and turmeric, among other things. Brunache recommended we try it with the chili flake-infused vinegar sauce, and it was a hit. The second time I had it, I actually really enjoyed the spicy, mustardy house sauce with the brisket.

Of the sides we were able to get, we were lucky enough to snag cheddar grits ($4) as well as pinto beans ($4)—the beans' thick, chili-like texture and sugar-free flavor will please any Texas barbecue purist. Brunache also offered a Friday lunch special—brisket cheesesteak ($18) on an Olde Hearth hoagie bun—that we couldn't pass up. And yes, it was great. It reheated well in the oven the next day, too.

Also on our tray were four slices of yeast white bread, which Brunache's team bakes fresh daily. “This bread reminds me of my childhood,” my wife said, tears in her eyes, on my third visit to the restaurant. “My grandmother always baked bread like this.” We came that Saturday afternoon to eat another specialty dish—Black Angus beef ribs ($45 for 1.25 pounds). They're rubbed with a mixture of black pepper, salt, garlic and onion powder before being smoked for 10 hours in a 1,000-gallon Primitive Pit smoker in the backyard. Then it rests for 10 hours before being sliced ​​to order. Needless to say, the charred hunk of brontosaurus was simply incredible (and paired well with a side potato salad with jalapeños and dill).

click to enlarge Smokemade Meats + Eats attracts hordes of barbecue fans to Curry Ford West

I have to say that on each of my visits, I have been unable to resist the lure of the banana pudding ($6). Like almost everything here, it is made from scratch. Although other desserts such as bread pudding ($6) and gooey butter cake ($6) are also offered, I will probably order the banana pudding again. Unless it sells out.

Still, it's all great stuff. But Brunache is a humble guy, and he's quick to acknowledge the influence that Goldee's Barbecue in Fort Worth has had on his success. “I can't put into words what they've meant to my barbecue journey,” he says of the highly acclaimed establishment where he performed. “I'm so grateful for the opportunity to spend time with these guys.” In fact, Smokemade Meats + Eats can be considered the Florida offshoot of the James Beard Award-nominated restaurant that Texas monthly voted the best barbecue joint in the state.

That might explain why he was out of ribs, turkey, and pulled pork on this third visit. Granted, I had all three when Brunache showed up at East End Market with his smaller smoker shortly after the pandemic. But a brick-and-mortar operation is a whole different caliber that he and his crew are still trying to tame. I can't say when the man sleeps. But there's no doubt that Brunache's rapid rise to fame and the consistent lines at his barbecue are knocking the competition out of the running.

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Anna Harden

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