Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan, located where the once-loved Asylum served up vegan brunches, is one of my favorite spots in the neighborhood. First, a couple of things to know.
Smoke and Barrel is not:
- A place to get a salad. Or any kind of vegetable, for that matter.
- A place to have a light meal.
- A place to go on a night that you’re DD.
Smoke and Barrel is:
- A place for beer. Especially anything dark, aged, and strong.
- A place for bourbon.
- A place for fatty vegan barbecue, burgers, and loaded up baked potatoes to wash your beer down with.
Most everything on the vegetarian menu is a good bet. Vegan wings with chipotle honey butter are delicious. Ask for extra butter for dipping if you’re not counting calories. Add a side of creamy mashed potatoes (secret ingredient: cream cheese) and some smoked asparagus (I lied when I said no vegetables at all) and you’re in for a heavy/heavenly meal.
Other winners include the sweet potato oat burger with pecans in the patty and the vegan ribs. I stayed away from the ribs for a while because the idea of a recreated rack of something sounded scary. It turns out it’s more like a stir-fry – soy and seitan in a sweet and spicy sauce, tossed with red and green peppers, onions, and pine nuts. At least one non-vegetarian has been known to sneak a few bites while eating their own actual ribs.
Unlike a disappointing number of cases where cheese and other flavors are promised in the grits but don’t materialize, Smoke and Barrel’s jalapeño cheddar grits (and grit cakes) deliver both.
If you’re craving something home-style, the stuffed spud with veggie chili will hit the spot and then some. It’s massive, with sour cream and butter squished into the middle, and topped with a solid multi-bean-and-corn chili and nacho cheese or, on request, shredded cheddar. Nothing you couldn’t make yourself, but would you really make it this indulgent at home?
The barbecue smoked tofu sandwich is passable, but lackluster compared to other options. While the red peppers and chipotle aioli provide a punch, the tofu itself is just too mildly seasoned. A good slathering of barbecue sauce is required to keep things interesting.
Finally, we come to the don’ts. There’s just one: tacos. Not even on Tuesdays when they are $5 (stick to Mondays instead when wings are discounted and meatless specials are on rotation). Veggie chili or smoked tofu are spooned into cold, tasteless flour tortillas and topped with no-way-it’s-homemade salsa. I’d wish these tacos on an enemy.
So now that you know, get yourself to Smoke and Barrel for (almost) all of the above!
2471 18th St NW