420 Smokehouse - it's not what you think. They might have a misleading name, but the only smoke coming out of here is from the on-site log-burning smoker. Located in the heart of Cabbagetown, 420 Smokehouse offers authentic, marinated for days, slow-smoked BBQ. They boast a a secret recipe of dry spices that sets their rub above their competitors.
Remarkably cozy, the 420 has wood tables throughout, with booth seating along their Parliament street window sporting colourful embroidered pillows. A large bar in the centre is the focus of the room, next to the chalkboard menu demonstrating the day's specials. The eclectic decor is simultaneously confusing and enchanting, like the framed photo on the wall of an elephant trunk photobombing a man on the street. Another showcases different types of fish. On the afternoon that I visited, 80's pop music and the long restaurant was empty apart from one regular chatting with the hostess about their recent travels.
The menu consists of chicken, ribs, sandwiches, and seafood. Highlights like pulled pork nachos and macaroni smoked cheese are necessary starters. The smoked meat sandwich is what inspired 420's creation, and may be the best you can get west of Montreal. Food here is done right, without cutting too many corners and sacrificing food quality. To drink they have a few beers on tap like Big Rock Chocolate Stout, Wellington Dark Ale and Trailhead Lager, and Amsterdam Blonde and Big Wheel. They also include a small selection of tall boys (Big Rig and Side Launch Wheat) and red and white wines ($6.75/glass to $39.50/bottle).
The smoked chicken dinner I ordered (qtr $12, half $17) had dark, crispy skin and juicy insides. They warn that it could take twenty minutes (it took less) for it to be ready, which is easily dealt with by ordering an appetizer or drinks. It is served with kale salad and aligot, a combination of mashed potatoes and cheese. The sautéed kale is on a bed of very caramelized, sweet onions and cranberry compote. The 420 burger ($14) too was a mouth-watering combination of house-cured bacon, smoked cheddar on an 8 ounce lightly smoked patty, soft bun and a side of fries or salad.
I would return for their dessert alone. The made-from-scratch and in-house 'turtle' cheesecake ($7) was a giant, mouth-watering slab topped with different chunks of nuts. There was a custard layer that glued the topping to the creamy base. The smiling woman who served it to me said it was made in-house earlier that day. Service was casual and friendly, like a family restaurant should be, with a palpable pride for what they do.
Overall, if you find yourself in Cabbagetown the 420 Smokehouse is well worth a visit. Located just a cool 20 minute walk away from Yonge and Dundas square, escaping the bustling core and chain restaurants to eat some BBQ done right in a comfortable, family-owned hideaway will be one of your better ideas.