A barbecue joint serving downtown Dayton, Al’s Smokehouse is a casual dining concept in the midst of the central business district that has some of the longest hours of any place downtown. While many restaurants around town stay open for lunch or dinner on weekdays, Al’s is open lunch to midnight on weekdays, and stays out until 5 am weekends. Al’s makes breakfast foods for the early birds and barbecue dishes for the night owl.
The barbecue menu offers a number of classics; ribs and chicken as well as the sides to match. The ribs were good, but they weren’t as smoked as i had hoped they would be, more like they were slow-cooked until the meat was tender, but they really lacked a bark or a smokey flavor. They’re served with bread, but that’s kind of hard to work with, considering the ribs are served with the bone-in, and so a rib sandwich would be very hard to make.
The side dishes aren’t great. The green beans are good, but they also look and taste very much like they are just out of a can. The macaroni and cheese is better, it’s got some pepper and spices in it, but it’s also lacking something that makes barbecue mac and cheese good. Maybe it could be smoked? I did enjoy the barbecue sauce I tried, which has been liberally applied to the ribs. It is a sweet-vinegar combo that seems to be very popular in these parts, and it adds just a tad of spice, which is nice.
The atmosphere is pretty plain, actually. There wasn’t a lot to see as I sat down for a meal, and though a few people did come and go, it seemed pretty quiet. Sad to say I didn’t get to visit later in the day when more people may have been around, but the day was relatively calm at the smokehouse.
All told, the place had a good idea and some decent meat to back it up, but I wasn’t a fan of the sides and that made a big difference. Though other factors seemed to have doomed Al’s Smokehouse, I’m really sad to have seen it gone. Downtown lacks a spot with an eye on barbecue, and even with all the great food trucks passing through, there’s just nothing that beats an old-fashioned smoker. I hope to see this location open for business again some time soon.