Smoke Signals serves southern BBQ standards cooked in a smoker behind the restaurant. The casual Dundas West destination is hip and minimal rather than rustic. The walls are a concrete grey and giant slabby wooden tables create a communal feel with a polished style.
For $38 you can get a platter for two with two meats and a choice of three sides. Two cuts of fatty, moist brisket are prepared Texas style, the best and simplest way, simple salt and pepper ratios allowing the beef fat to become the main flavour vehicle, smoked for thirteen hours. For our other meat we choose ribs, and add a jalapeno cheddar sausage ($6 a link).
The sausage is made with wonderfully vinegary and spicy house pickled jalapenos, and the gooey cheddar adds creaminess. The ribs are done with a Memphis dry rub, smoked for around four to six hours. The barque on top is smoky and flavourful, but the lean ribs aren't tender enough to quite fall off the bone.
The owner admits to having OCD when it comes to mac n' cheese ($8) and it shows, noodles perfectly al dente, sauce perfectly thick and cheesy, and a crackly baked top layer. The sauce is a rich full cream bechamel made with smoked Gouda and Old Bay for punch, with delicate panko crumbs on top.
Frito pie ($8) is an Austin late night classic, layers of corn chips, brisket, chili, smoked cheddar, crema, jalapeno and green onion. The raw jalapeno is really spicy but I feel like it balances the smoky cheddar and rich, heavy chili.
They've also got a pulled jackfruit sandwich ($10) for the herbivores in your party. The smoked jackfruit is paired with jerk spice making it savoury and spicy. It's topped with a coleslaw ($5) which looks familiar with shredded red and green cabbage and carrot, but tastes surprising with Asian flavours of pineapple and mint.
To round it all off you can even get one of their rotating desserts like this sugary, buttery pecan pie.
Like most BBQ joints the booze focus is on beer and whisky, with a house lager done by Great Lakes ($6.50).
Photos by Jesse Milns