If you haven’t been to The Smoke Point BBQ & Provisions yet, you are missing out on incredible food at a relaxed and friendly BBQ joint. Just off the main drag in San Juan Bautista, the little converted house with the lighted front patio offers a fine dining experience, while maintaining all the trappings of an outdoor BBQ. This is family–friendly dining at its best.
Owner Jarad Gallagher is the driving force behind this one-of-a-kind BBQ place. A third-generation chef, Jarad trained at the Cordon Bleu school in Paris, France and has received a Michelin Star. He wanted to give back to the community he is so fond of. It started when he bought a ranch in Hollister for the family horses. Just down the road, he and his family have enjoyed many dining experiences in the community of San Juan Bautista. Jarad’s journey in the culinary world has had him working as a chef in some of the finest restaurants on six continents! He wanted to share his knowledge and expertise with this community that he so enjoys.
That opportunity came when he purchased the site of the former Matxain Etxea Basque Restaurant at 206 4th Street. Of all the possibilities for a restaurant, Jarad felt that “A barbecue made sense.” On November 11, 2020 in the midst of uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, Smoke Point opened to the public. In the early days they mostly did take out. Jarad says, “We went through four or five different iterations as we adapted to Covid.” They now have full indoor dining as well as a front and back patio area. The future includes a full remodel inside and outside, hopefully in the Spring of 2022. A bar and live music are also future possibilities. Jarad feels that Smoke Point could “Add some significance to San Juan Bautista for years to come.”
“In the culinary world, barbecue is the only true American cuisine.”
Looking at the food on the menu you will find the standard barbecue faire including smoked and grilled meats, salads, sides, and desserts. But at Smoke Point, Jarad and his crew have gone beyond just the basics. They’ve worked hard to find the best methods to prepare these staples and develop the flavor. Their motto is ‘meat so good you don’t need the sauce.’ Sauces they do have though—all five are served at every table. Jarad reminds us that “In the culinary world, barbecue is the only true American cuisine.” It was in that spirit that he decided to add another American favorite: a Whiskey Bar menu.
Good food is not the only recipe for a family-friendly barbecue. A welcoming staff really makes a difference. Working at the restaurant are Jarad’s sister, brother-in-law, mother and nephew along with about fourteen other employees. Jarad’s actual day job is overseeing restaurant and banquet facilities for a hotel chain on the west coast from Portland to Los Angeles, so he must rely on his family and staff to keep everything running smoothly at Smoke Point.This can be seen in the staff’s high level of customer service–something that each and every one of them buys off on. My brother and I experienced that service firsthand on our recent visit to Smoke Point. Jarad’s nephew Zach was the chef that night. He came out to talk to us about what he was preparing and offered some menu suggestions. Zach was quite friendly, and answered all of our questions patiently. Jarad believes many restaurants make their customers feel like the restaurant is doing them a favor to serve them. “That will never happen at Smoke Point,” he concluded.
The future will bring a sweeping remodel, but next up for Smoke Point is their Thanksgiving meal, which was very popular their first year. You can order their turkey dinner online for pickup on Thanksgiving Day between 12 and 4 PM. Reservations only dinner will take place between 5 and 8 PM that day.
This unique barbecue experience is something you just have to experience for yourself! Not ready to brave dining out just yet? Smoke Point has online ordering that you can prepay and pick up. Visit their website for more information and to order: www.thesmokepoint.com