Smokin Joes Rib Shack

Best ribs in Jozi? | Review: Smokin’ Joe’s Rib Shack

Food coma alert! O my hatness – I have found a place so good, that I almost don’t want to share it with anyone. I almost don’t want to tell you how delicious the ribs are, and that for once, there is a true smoking hero who has planted his smoking machine firmly on Fourways ground.

None of this hipster food truck, chain store smoked meat we have come to understand as the smoking treasures from the US, no, this rib shack is the real deal.

I first heard about this little gem of an establishment in the ultimate Jozi Foodie group on Facebook, “Jozi Restaurants – The Good, the bad and the ugly”. I immediately phoned to make a booking, as everyone was raving about the deliciousness. My call wasn’t answered, but my Facebook message was answered almost instantly. I was informed that the ribs were sold out, as they had a massive influx of people all of a sudden. Hat in hand, a made a booking for a week later, and thank foodness I did!

Smokin’s Joe’s rib shack, run by Cleveland (who is straight out of Mississippi – thank you song in my head for helping me spell that), is nestled in the heart of Fourways. A stone’s throw past the Design Quarter, this humble joint is not the place to go if you are expecting marble floors for your beautiful heels, or opulence and grandeur.

No, on the contrary, this is home. No branded chairs or plates. No special serving dishes. No menacing waiters or menus. Rather, and in my humble opinion, the best ribs in Johannesburg.

Specialising in Smoked Pork Ribs, Smoked Beef Ribs, Pulled Pork and Gumbo, this little spot does what few can do nowadays…focus on good food, and good hospitality.

I asked Cleveland if he would be so kind as to grant me a few minutes and tell me a bit Smokin’ Joe’s, to which he shyly obliged. Biggups Cleve, and thank you for sparing me some time in between the rib smoking.

The ribs are fall off the bone good. Sweet, smoked and basted in a sticky basting sauce that has a bite so tiny, you wonder if the vibration on your tongue is actually your pallet applauding in delight. It was beautiful. So beautiful in fact, I took a video for you, just to show you how tender these babies are.

The sides, are included in the price… yes included. The options aren’t always the same, and depends what is available and of good quality when it comes to produce. But, the portions are of a good vaue and size. All I can say is, the dirty fries, sweet potato fries and Mac and Cheese are to die for. Other sides include beans, collard greens and many other dishes as well.

I have to say, I was so blown over by the deliciousness of it all, I ate way too much and couldn’t get to the dessert, which on Friday night was Carrot Cake. Desserts are prepared fresh, so be sure to ask when you arrive.

My boyfriend and I, each ordered half a rack of the Smoked Pork Rib, and still had some left over to take home.

Service was fantastic, and they do accept cards, just in case you were wondering. But, if I could advise, pay in cash if you can and assist this small business so that they can buy their stock fresh each day as needed, instead of having to wait for credit card payments to come through. They also offer the standard alcoholic beverage list, and if you wondering if your fav is included, give them a buzz to find out. Lorraine, the hostess who greeted and served us is beautifully eloquent woman, who not only loves the business of Smokin’ Joe’s, but as can be seen from her personality, loves people too. Friendliness all around.

Set in the grounds of The Dalberry Guesthouse property, and only open between 12 noon and 8pm, this little gem seats about 16 to 18 people max in a service. It’s a great place to watch the rugby, or for a birthday party, and I’m guessing if you want to park there for the whole afternoon, it shouldn’t be a problem either.

Cleveland mentioned that his goal is not to turn tables as quickly as possible, but rather to get to know his customers. He takes great interest in each table, and is such a humble, lovely guy, that you cannot help but want to know his back story. I am sure that the vibe of Smokin’ Joe’s is a good representation of Cleveland’s personality – light, friendly and comforting.

The best is to book in advance, as I am sure the more that words starts spreading, the busier it will become.

In a case such as this, I would never blame an eatery owner for turning away customers. On the contrary, there is much respect in understanding that Cleveland would rather serve his customers a great meal, thoughtfully prepared over hours, than serve up some slap bang meal to serve as many people in a sitting as possible.

So be warned, if you do not book, you might be turned away, but make a booking right then and there as this is an experience you do NOT want to miss.

I expect there will be some nice donga fires and blankets come winter, but one small thing I would love to see, or hear for that matter, is soft blues music all around the garden. I think it’ll just tie everything together.

Oh, and if you were wondering about prices, our bill came to R325 – that is ribs for two, three large sides, 4 glasses of wine, and two beers. You probably think that’s a type eh? Nope, true story.

Great value, amazing food, great hospitality, and good prices.

A definite must go.

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Forkin’ out


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