Reviewed by Stacy Fisher
Before opening Smokin’ Mo’s Bar-B-Que Smokehouse in Chico 13 years ago with his wife Jill, proprietor Scott McLeod wanted to discover what good barbecue was all about, and began a journey across several southern states, swinging through the barbecue belt and visiting scores of barbecue establishments.
The experience paid off for the couple’s business, Scott says, inspiring a number of award-winning homemade recipes, which includes a variety of rib plates, tri-tip, pulled pork sandwiches, shredded BBQ beef, chicken dishes, baked BBQ beans, onion rings, potato salad, and coleslaw. “All of our Southern-style dishes are made from family recipes that make all our meals special,” Scott shares, adding that he orders only the best meats and pork he can find. The eatery also offers 1/3 lb. ground beef burgers and grilled chicken, as well as a variety of salads and BBQ garden burgers for vegetarian customers.
My taste buds were standing on end in anticipation as I explored the menu before choosing the BBQ Rib Combo. I looked forward to savoring a variety of different barbecue flavors in one meal. The combo arrives with six ribs smothered in three varieties of sauce, each flavor applied to two ribs apiece. The sauces taste distinctly different from each other, promising patrons a gastronomic treat.
The order includes a side of pinto beans, kidney beans, and baked beans combined in a brown sugar paste, as well as fresh crisp coleslaw. A golden brown cornbread muffin with a wonderful cinnamon honey butter spread is also part of the meal. The fresh potato salad that’s also included comes from Scott’s mother-in-law’s secret recipe.
Lunch was delivered quickly along with an additional order of abundantly portioned fresh garlic fries.
I gathered plenty of napkins and dived in.
The mouth-watering meal featured two Saint Louis-style ribs covered in a sassy Carolina brown sugar molasses; the middle two ribs were topped with what’s called “Philthy Phil’s” mustard-vinegar sauce, a zesty and popular recipe in the South; and finally two more ribs slathered in Smokin’ Mo’s original Memphis-style recipe, a traditional tomato-based barbecue sauce that’s as distinctive as it is exceptional.
The authentic Southern-method of barbecue cooking uses hickory to slow-cook the beef, pork, or fowl, Scott says. I feasted enthusiastically, sampling each type of rib in turn. The juicy meat was tender and slid off the bone to delight the appetite. Deciding which sauce was my favorite was difficult, as all three flavors enchanted the palate and contributed to the culinary experience as a whole.
“The key for us is to keep our menu simple, but consistent in quality,” Scott explains. “People know that when they come into our restaurant they’re going to get the best food we can deliver.”
A majority of Smokin’ Mo’s customers are families, as well as college kids and business people who come during the day or evening for a memorable dining experience that’s reasonably priced. The restaurant offers student specials seven days a week that include a choice of shredded pork, chicken or beef sandwiches, with homemade potato chips and a soda.
“Our shredded pork sandwich is one of our most popular orders. We place coleslaw on top of it, which at first people thought was crazy, but has become one of our most popular entrées.
” Smokin’ Mo’s offers catering, take-out, and delivery, too. “We do quite a number of weddings, parties, and corporate events,” Scott adds.
There’s also an outside patio for patrons who may want to eat in the open air.
The operation is family-owned, “and that means we want our reputation to be second to none. We create a great environment for our employees, while at the same time try to make our customers feel like part of the family while providing a unique dining experience.
” Smokin’ Mo’s Bar-B-Que is located at 131 Broadway in Chico, CA 95928. Phone 530-891-6677 for takeout orders or to enquire about catering, party orders, or serving special events. The restaurant is open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until 9 p.m.