The next stop on our WRNL Eats tour from this past summer is at Des Moines staple Smokey D's BBQ. Located off Interstate 80 on 2nd St, Smokey D's is probably the most well known BBQ establishment in town and has been in existence since 2006 when owners Darren and Sherry Warth started BBQing out of a trailer in their driveway. Former owner Shad Kirton split off to found Kue'd Smokehouse, but Smokey D's remains a solid contributor to the Des Moines BBQ scene with food that made them famous on the BBQ competition circuit.
Our experience here was more conventional as Darren couldn't join us, but the management in his stead treated us great and got us set up with The Whole Pit, which was more than enough to feed the entire crew.
One thing that always sticks out about Smokey D's is their garlic bread, and it didn't disappoint on this trip. Soft with the right amount of butter and garlic, it's a great complement to the massive amount of meat that was being consumed. The potato casserole knocked it out of the park—a little bit of spice and a breadcrumb top to add some texture. The fries were surprisingly addictive as well with garlic salt, paprika, and a few other herbs. The mac 'n cheese was made up of fat elbows in a thick creamy sauce of multiple cheeses and also a touch of sour cream, which added a great tang.
The hands down winner on this stop were the burnt ends, which hit the mark with their perfect tenderness mixed with a nice char on the outside. The ribs were slightly better than Kue'd in how they were cooked, but left a little bit to be desired on the flavor.
The brisket, while flavorful, did not appear to be a popular meat that day as we felt that it had been on the warmer too long and lost some of its appeal after sitting on the platter for a few minutes. While flavorful, it missed the mark on tenderness which was largely driven by its temperature.
Smokey D's doesn't have a wide range of sauce options, mainly focusing on a tangy/mild sauce and a spicy one, but what is there is good. The tangy/mild sauce has enough sweetness to it to help add some moisture to meats when necessary, but isn't so sweet it overpowers the smoke flavor of the meat and leaves you wanting some more. The fiery sauce is exactly what most BBQ people look for when saucing and adds just enough heat to hang out in your mouth, but allow you to come back for more.
Our trip to Smokey D's was enjoyable, and not just for the ginger kid who kept his face pressed up against the glass to watch us, but for the wide assortment of food that was made available to us. You can't go wrong with a lot of the meat here and we would recommend a trip for the burnt ends alone. Everything else is just a nice addition to an already solid menu.