looks like a shack. Duh. That’s why the owners Joe and Angie Sorge
named it Smoke Shack. We knew we were in the right neighborhood when
we got out of the car and detected the sweet smell of a hard-working
Inside the Smoke
Shack dim lighting and a low ceiling put us somewhere south of
Tennessee, anywhere but Milwaukee’s Third Ward. Communal tables made
from recycled wood covered with plexiglass and soft-colored barn-wood
walls, add southern charm to the Shack. There’s also a side deck for
summertime dining and people watching on Milwaukee Street.
We ordered from
the Sammich menu — Carolina Pulled Pork and Pulled Chicken —
because what’s not to love when something smells that good. As she
set down our plates, our server says, "Try the Carolina Gold on
the sweet potato fries. It’s my favorite." That’s when I gave
myself permission to play with my food and eat with my fingers.
The smoked meat,
chicken, pork, and beef brisket are served sans sauce; customers add
their sauce of choice. With four to choose from, I made four puddles
on my plate and used those fingers to dip, mix and experiment with the
pulled pork as well as the fries. Both Kansas City and House BBQ came
off as slightly sweet and smoky, followed by a mild cayenne kick, as
did the tomato-based Texas BBQ. Carolina Gold has a strong
mustard-vinegar flavor. We passed on the Kick-24 Habanero, afraid it
would overpower the other flavors. And the sweet potato fries? I
happily soaked them in the House BBQ.
than smoked meat at the shack. As co-owner Angie Sorge is a
vegetarian, customers will note a Roasted Portobello Sammich and BBQ
Seitan, tofu-like, served with House BBQ, arugula and red onion. Our
neighbor at the communal table loved her Fried Tomato Salad, another
veggie choice. Items on the menu are marked with symbols to denote
veggie, gluten-free or things with nuts. A number by the meat tells
how many hours it spent in the smoker; the winner is brisket at 14.
pack in dessert even after our server lovingly described the
house-made pecan pie served with a dollop of whiskey-cinnamon ice
cream from the Purple Door.
fork-free meal, I needed a wet wipe, and that’s how I finished,
sated from a pile of well-sauced pork just pulled from the smoker.
332 N. Milwaukee St.