94 E Water St.
Chillicothe, OH 45601
A historic joint in downtown Chillicothe, Old Canal Smokehouse is a historic building that sits in a historic town and offers a casual atmosphere with some great Midwestern barbecue. In spite of all of the years that this building has, the smokehouse has a very approachable, friendly appeal. It’s a small-town hangout with some good barbecue, and there’s a reason this spot is known outside of town. It’s a nice representation of the appeal that drives Chillicothe; casual in spite of its many stories.
Old Canal Smokehouse has a menu of barbecue – and good stuff too. The food might be best described as Kansas City Style, where everything is smoked and the sauce is a very sweet, molasses-based sauce. Sauce comes on the side, with a sweet and a sweet-and-spicy (not too hot) iteration. Some of the things to try:
- Barbecue ribs: Definitely one of the best things on the menu! The ribs are smoked and served up with a thick ‘bark’ of smoked and crispy outside, but a very fall-off-the-bone soft inside. Though it might be considered overcooked, it’s exactly what people like.
- Beef brisket: Smoked brisket — which also features a nice bark — sliced and served with onion and pepper. The brisket isn’t as smoked but it is good with that sweet-and-spicy sauce.
- Sweet potato tater tots: An interesting side dish unique to here, these tots are small but crispy and served with a creamy and very-sweet white sauce, a bit like icing. Delicious.
- Mac and cheese: Topped with buttered crumbs and baked in a dish, this mac and cheese is a little crunchy, though a bit greasy. Still good.
- Corn pudding: A simple delight, this creamy corn pudding is not too sweet, but still really good. A pleasant side dish with that heavy smoked meat.
The restaurant has a nice historic feel, though it can be a bit more crowded, especially in the winter when that expansive patio has to be covered. Still, any time you come out, expect a line, and maybe a long one, to eat here. It remains a very popular local spot for a meal, whether it’s a big group of people or a date or something of that nature. The patio especially has something of a sports bar feel, which is nice.
All told, this is a familiar and very friendly spot — it’s a credit to Chillicothe to see such a historic spot like this survive so long. Give it a try.
- The barbecue is the best item on the menu, and of that, I am very partial to the barbecued ribs.
- Barbecue sauce is served on the side and comes in either sweet or sweet-and-spicy, which is not too spicy. Each is pretty good, to your preference.
- Want to save money or have a lighter appetite? Some of the platters can be shared for a $2-per-person up-charge. Get a rack of ribs, or a big meat and split the sides for cheaper.