By Susan L. Wright
Smokeshack Barbecue, the family-owned and run barbecue restaurant that started out in Ormond Beach, has moved to a more central location on West International Speedway Boulevard, but the food has stayed the same.
Fleming K. Whited and his wife, Cindy, and daughter, Whitney, are still every bit as much involved in every detail of the food and the service.
Mr. Whited, who moved from Tennessee years ago to practice law in the Daytona Beach area, brought along his passion for good, home-style barbecue, throwing big parties for friends and family, and whole school teams as his children progressed through school.
As the children got older, the couple turned their love for barbecue into a hobby, entering contests for the best barbecue in a variety of categories all over the country -- and winning prizes for his recipes.
Eventually, though, he got tired of the travel and the hassle and decided to open a restaurant where they could treat customers the way they'd been treating their friends for years. He is the chief barbecue cook, she's in charge of desserts and they both are adamant they don't cut corners on their food.
He's developed his own recipes over the years, makes all his own sauces -- except for the ketchup -- and rubs, and most dishes are cooked from scratch.
Unlike most barbecue chains and other barbecue places, he is careful to hand cut the meat, removing all the fat.
He still practices law, but goes into the restaurant every night to start cooking the brisket, which cooks slowly for 14 hours, and comes in early in the morning to get everything ready to serve.
The menu includes all the classic barbecue specialties, from pulled pork to spare ribs, brisket to chicken, plus a few variations such as Chimi-Q, a flour tortilla filled with pulled pork, baked beans, cole slaw, shredded cheese and sauce.
Recently on a visit to the new location, opposite Daytona International Speedway, which should be perfect for attracting race crowds and all kinds of other business from the businesses and colleges nearby, three of us had a chance to sample the classics from the menu.
Starting with pulled porknachos -- a basketful of freshly made potato nachos covered in tender pulled pork with melted cheese -- and moving to platters of brisket, ribs and chicken with an assortment of very Southern and very tasty sides, the meal called for slowly savoring every bite. The sides included collard greens, wonderfully tender corn bites that looked like mini beignets, baked beans piqued with bits of peppers, fresh and crunchy cole slaw, and savory sweet potato fries. Bliss.
The dry-rubbed ribs were tender and falling off the bone, the brisket looked like well-done steak, but was as tender as butter, and the chicken was meaty, no fat and with rub on all sides for great flavor.
While the portions were generous and none of us could quite finish our food, we also couldn't resist tastes of the story book Southern desserts -- buttermilk pie Mr. Whited said was like Southern crème brulee in a crust, without the brulee, and a warm, cozy peach cobbler topped off with vanilla ice cream.
There's also a full bar that includes a moonshine drink (just 80 proof, not the strength of legends) and a row of big screen TVs showing sports at the bar. The day we were there, the U.S. was losing to Germany.
The décor is sophisticated country style -- all vivid reds, yellows and blacks, the seating includes tables and booths, and the prices are comparable to other restaurants in the area.
Smokeshack BBQ is in Suite 201, 1808 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach. Call (386) 386-673-7427 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.