2 Saucy Nuggets of Barbecue News

This platter from Whatcha Smokin’ will keep even the biggest BBQ beast full: brisket, pork, chicken and tempting sides.

Writer: Karla Walsh

Smoker season at home is still months away, but you can get your fix of brisket, burnt ends and beyond at two barbecue spots that are are rocking new owners and refreshed menus.

Dive into something new at King Smoke Texas Barbecue. The newly renovated and refreshed brand is located in the former Unrvld BBQ space (3701 E.P. True Parkway, #400, West Des Moines). Joe McConville, chef/partner with the hospitality group Dark Side of the Spoon, and his team partnered with Dre Jackson, one of the Unrvld owners who lives in Texas. “He worked with us on the meat preparations while we revamped the sides and sauces,” McConville told dsm.

They gave the interior a face-lift, rebranded and opened as King Smoke last fall. Brisket and spare ribs are the specialty, but the pulled pork, sausage and chicken are also stars, McConville promises. “We smoke all our meats fresh each day and when we’re out, we’re out,” he says. “The process is as much about what isn’t on the meat as what is. It’s all about the balance of meat, smoke with minimal seasoning.”

Just be sure to save enough stomach real estate for a fun road trip about 45 minutes northwest of the metro. Gwen Page (who you might remember from her time as one of the founding owners of the downtown Fong’s Pizza location) and Texas native Sean Stratton are the new co-owners of Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ + Brew in Luther (403 Iowa Ave.). In March 2021, the opportunity fell onto Page’s plate to take over. Whatcha Smokin’ 2.0 maintains co-founder Steve Perlowski as head pitmaster, and Amadeio Zarnegar is the “kitchen coach,” Page says.

As far as what to order, choose from the menu full of “unique Central Texas-style barbecue that is fresh pit to plate,” Page says. She recommends the brisket (take your pick from fatty or lean), ideally in the form of poutine with gravy and Picket Fence Creamery cheese curds. Don’t skip oatmeal cream pie for dessert.

Find King Smoke Texas BBQ online at kingsmoketexasbbq.com and facebook.com/kingsmoketexasbbq and follow them on Instagram @kingsmoketexasbbq. Follow Whatcha Smokin’ online at whatchasmokinbbq.comfacebook.com/whatchasmokinbbq and on Instagram @whatchasmokinbbqbrew.

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