Dinner – Smoke City Char Bar – February 10, 2023 – Downtown Los Angeles

I went to their grand opening party and knew I had to ask for a proper tasting. Well, I’m here to say that I was not disappointed and the next time you’re craving authentic BBQ, Smoke City Char Bar is your new destination BBQ restaurant.

The project is the work of group Cathedral Hill Associates, who operate restaurants in the greater Seattle area, up in Mill Valley, and Bay Area-based owner Ki Yong Choi. Smoke City Char Bar will have its 1-year anniversary at the end of March.

Their staff is very seasoned, you’ve got Steve Grunkemeyer, their general manager, Brandt – their head server, and the Ray Liotta look-alike server, Barry. Chef George Huynh, who worked for the An family, known for Crustacean in Beverly Hills, and many other restaurants, and for Michael Reed, as well as Poppy and Seed. You will be in good hands when you dine at this very fun establishment.

Here’s What I tried:

Handcrafted Cocktails:

Traditional Grey Goose Martini served cold in an artisan martini glass, just perfect.

Salvador’s Sangria, with their house red or white mixed with fresh berries and smoked watermelon. The smoked watermelon is what makes this cocktail so remarkable.

The Mamba, with Woodinville Rye, Mint, Blackberries, and Lime. For the Rye drinker this is the one for you! Oh, and did I mention that this cocktail is an homage to Kobe Bryant, well the name says it all.

The Brona Lisa, Selva Ray Chocolate Run, Rumchata, Korbel Brandy and Cool Whip. Its kind of like a bumped-up coffee martini, just a bit stronger.

Valid, Frida, Tito’s Vodka, Peach Puree, Lemon, Agave, and Mint Soda. I loved this drink, totally in my wheelhouse.

Hush, Francis, Their Feisty Mule with Xicaru Mexcal, Lime, Pina, and House made Ginger Beer. This cocktail is another one that was very delightful for my tastebuds.


Hickory Smoked Watermelon, with diced Bermuda Onion, arugula, fresh mint leaves, crispy ginger, feta cheese, and Balsamic gastrique. This appetizer is a complete palate cleanser, it is very invigorating.

Char Bar Smokehouse nachos with, smokehouse chili, cheddar, and jack cheese, scallion, and avocado crema. This really is a fiesta in your mouth, its spicy and creamy, with lovely corn, and tortilla bites, a wonderful appetizer!

Burnt End Mac & Cheese Bites, with crisp fried jalapeno dip. The presentation of this dish is so refreshing, it really makes you want to dive in.

Smoked Meats:

Baby Back Ribs, hands down my favorite, smoked for 10 hours total, it is just the best.

Bone-In Half Chicken, with its crispy skin, and delicious flavor profile, a great chicken dish.

Brisket, this is cooked for 16-18 hours, and it is so tender and moist, wow.

Salmon, great seasonings and flavor, for the fish lover you’ve got to try this.

Artisan Salads:

California Cobb with baby kale, chopped butter lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, Gorgonzola, hard boiled egg, cucumber, avocado, and breakfast radish.   The smoked big pieces of turkey is what makes this salad so amazing.

Classic Caesar Salad with, baby romaine, baby kale, brioche crouton, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. They added a piece of salmon to this salad which made it really a complete meal.

The Sauces:

Harissa Molasses, Their Signature Sauce, Soy Ginger, Cayenne Honey, and Mustard Seed-Apple Cider. Every sauce is made from scratch and each one has very distinct flavor profiles that are unique and delicious.

Shareable Sides:

Napa Cabbage Slaw, Truffle French Fries, Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread, Smoke City Baked Beans, Charred Brussel Sprouts, Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, Elote Street Corn, Smoke House Chili, and Southern Style Collard Greens. Every side dish is great, my favorites were the Smoke City Baked Beans, the Yukon Mashed Potatoes, and Elote Street Corn.  They are very filling, and for vegans many of them are the perfect dishes for restricted diets.


Classic Italian Tiramisu, brandy-soaked lady fingers, coffee liqueur mousse, and cocoa powder. This is just wonderful, for your tiramisu lovers it’s a must have.

Smores, what a wonderful idea, served with graham crackers, the burnt top is just the best.

Strawberry Shortcake, my favorite dessert, served with vanilla ice cream. I can’t even describe it, but you just must try it.


Complicated Chardonnay – Monterey, this wine is so perfect with the salmon, and the salads. It’s got enough minerals and citrus to be a nice addition to these dishes.

L’ Age D’ – Chardonnay – Russian River. This was the better of the two Chardonnays for me, I just loved it with any of the light BBQ dishes.

Seaglass – Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara. A perfect wine, that paired nicely with the Mac & Cheese, chicken, or the ribs.

Septima – Malbec – Argentina, this wine needs to be sipped with the brisket, hands down a great pairing.

Smoke City Char Bar is at the back of the Aliso development in the Arts District, with plenty of patio seating, you just know in the summer this patio will be rocking.

Smoke City Char Bar’s, Southern style with L.A. aesthetics is certified by the restaurant’s design concept by Mary Dalinger. The interior designer looked to the Arts District in creating the space, which is brought to life by custom ribbon lighting made from recycled resin, and a locally-made sculpture that hangs over the dining room, its design is defined by steel and cement. The marble tables and gray chairs and banquets add a nice warmth to the overall interior. Tall roll-up windows are very industrial, and with the 4 flat screen TVs you can watch any game from any vantage point. The old road signs add to its rustic charm. Pendant lights and a touch of drought-tolerant landscaping finish off the look. It is truly a masterpiece in design, and the music they play is pretty much ambient which melts into the overall cool vibe.

Smoke City’s menu options boost the Chef’s favorite dishes as a kid; sweet “elote” inspired corn and family gatherings every weekend loaded with hearty plates of St. Louis style BBQ made heavier with grandma’s cornbread. Chef Williams can be found slow cooking up to 500 lbs of craft-smoked meats over a 12-16 hour period at the base of the Aliso apartments. He pulls his recipes from Texas, California, and is super creative in every aspect of his delicious fare, there are even vegan and vegetarian options available. Smoke City Char Bar’s savory delicacies are all locally sourced, most of their produce is from Nature’s produce and local farmers. A native Angeleno, seasoned traveler, and Howard University mathematician. Chef Omari has been on The Food Network’s, “Cut Throat Kitchen” and later, “Chopped” about eight years ago. Back then, Sous Chef Williams worked with Executive Chef Michael Reed (currently of Poppy & Rose) at Wolfgang Puck and later at the Standard Hotel in West Hollywood. Williams credits Reed as a master of all trades, he first showed him the ways of a fine-dining kitchen. The two became best friends and continued to work side by side for over a decade. In the years that followed, Chef Williams had become his own boss, catering healthy meals for private clientele while spending weekends donating his time and talents to feed the unhoused. Then came Smoke City Char Bar, which is an opportunity of a lifetime – to man his own kitchen in the Arts District of Downtown LA.

So, whatever the occasion, Smoke City Char Bar is innovative and will make anyone want to rethink how great BBQ is!!

*Parking is free for two hours from the adjacent Aliso Garage with validation.

*Note some content was taken off of their website.

Smoke City Char Bar

899 Traction Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90013



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