SALEM – A belly busting BLT, state fair style Fried Twinkies, a twister of tastiness referred to as The Meat Tornado, smoked meat sandwiches, and one smokin’ lady. It seems a little piece of the South has come to the North Shore at Smokin’ Bettys.
Located in Salem, Massachusetts, Smokin’ Betty’s is the barbecue inspired brainchild of restaurateur Steve Feldmann. He has brought us places like Flying Saucer Pizza Company and Gulu Gulu Café, and decided to pay homage to his late mother with his latest restaurant installment.
“I found some old photographs of her when she was 18, and to be perfectly honest, she was just a smoking hot babe. I used to tease her about it. When we decided to open this place up and we were looking for plays on words… She was this smoking hot babe, and we’re smoking meat, and it just kind of came together.”
One wall is filled with old photographs of Smokin’ Betty. The rest of the decor is a mish mash of Southern Charm, backwoods animals and arcade games, along with some Christmas lights to give the space a fun feel.
The menu mirrors the vibe, with all of your favorite southern comfort foods. There are addictive Hush Puppies spiked with sweet corn, Vidalia Onion Dip served with crackers, enormous Jerk Smoked Chicken Wings, and Fried Green Tomatoes that make Texas transplant, and Betty’s regular, Zeke think of home.
“The fried green tomatoes are outstanding and the remoulade that comes with the fried green tomatoes are outstanding. It’s like tasting home. Fried green tomatoes were one of those things I grew up on.”
If your family comes in with a more powerful hunger, Smokin’ Betty’s Meat Tornado will blow you away.
“Brisket, ribs, pulled pork, chicken, sausages. Of course the sides, you got beans, mac and cheese. It’s a ton of food! I believe it is a tornado of meat,” Steve laughed.
Smokin’ Betty’s also soars when it comes to sandwiches, with a flavorful pulled pork topped with creamy slaw, and a messy yet marvelous Smoked Brisket Reuben.
“There’s just so much flavor. Your mouth is not big enough to handle this thing,” Steve declared. “It’s one of those great meals that is absolutely disgustingly filthy as you’re eating it, but it’s so much fun to eat.”
There is an over-the-top Smoked Pork Belly BLT served on thick cut Texas Toast, and the Smoked Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich that’s topped with crispy chicken skin for added crunch.
“It’s a nice spicy chicken. They actually take the skin off and fry the skin separately, so it’s almost like having crispy chips on top of the chicken. The skin becomes a condiment on the meal.”
With portions as big as they are, it is hard to imagine you would have room for dessert, but if you do, there are carnival concoctions like the Fried Twinkie, or a version of Strawberry Shortcake made with Smokin’ Betty’s cornbread.
“Our cornbread’s fantastic. It’s real cornbread. It’s made in-house. It’s so tasty. And personally I really love strawberry shortcake and it was like the best of both worlds.”
For a light bite to end your meal, there is always watermelon, a favorite of Steve’s 5-year-old daughter.
With a vibe like this, it isn’t uncommon to want to stay all night long dining and drinking with old friends and new at Smokin’ Betty’s.
“We felt that there was definitely a need for this kind of establishment in Salem. So far, so good!”
You can find Smokin’ Betty’s at 94 Lafayette Street in Salem, and online at smokinbettysbbq.com.
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