I have traveled down Hwy. 257 south a thousand times in my life, passing Smoakies Bar-B-Que each time as I travel into Cordele on my way to I-75. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have never stopped. Maybe it’s because I always stopped at AB’s in Hawkinsville, Scott’s in Cochran, or waited until Tifton or Valdosta to eat ‘cue. My wife has been on me to try this “cute little place outside of Cordele” for quite some time. It just so worked out that she and I could meet there earlier this week, and I will not make the mistake of waiting so long to dine there again.
Smoakies Bar-B-Que, referred to simply as Smoakies from here on out, is a small block building in the middle of nowhere outside of Cordele, GA on Hwy. 257. On the outside of this block building is a mural of a tree with a bear in it. There’s a rough parking lot with a billboard outside announcing you’ve arrived. If you’re not a native, it’s probably an easy place to cruise on past. That’s probably the main reason I’ve never stopped before. The smokehouse is out back and you’re greeted by two palm trees in big pots as you enter. There’s also a Pepsi machine outside, though I’m not really sure why. As I sat in the parking lot, or whatever you call it, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of folks pulling in and out. I thought to myself that we must be in for a treat.
The service at Smoakies was absolutely top notch. As soon as we walked in, a man, presumably the son of the original owner, greeted my wife and I and told us to have a seat. What stuck out to me was that this gentleman was wearing a starched white shirt and a tie, along with his blue jeans. He was a very gracious host, very kind and eager to serve. We had tea on our table instantly. He also mentioned that his mom makes a fresh batch of banana pudding every morning. I told him to go ahead and plan on bringing us out a large portion after we had the ‘cue. It seems that this is a multi-generational business, completely family run. I don’t know this to be fact, but that was the assumption I made.
After glancing at the menu, we ordered. I had the usual- sandwich, stew and slaw, while my wife opted for a plate of pulled pork, onion rings and stew. Lucky for me, I got to eat most of hers after I finished mine.
So…on to the meal. The food was brought out really quickly. The tea was just good ol’ South Georgia sweet tea. It wasn’t overly sweet, but just right. They offered a wide variety of sauces- a mild vinegar based, a mild mustard based, rib sauce and chicken sauce, both a little hotter. I had to try them all and decided that I liked the mild vinegar based the best. Purely personal preference; my wife liked the mustard based a lot.
The sandwich was very good. They did not have any sauce on their meat, which I like. Don’t mess with the meat, let the patrons do that. It was moist, tender, and very good. The sandwich was plenty for me, and I didn’t even order the large. I topped it off with a touch of the vinegar based bbq sauce and couldn’t put it down. While it wasn’t the absolute best bbq I’ve ever had, it definitely ranks up near the top. The meat was very fresh and seemed like it had just been pulled. Again, I reiterate that it was very tender. On my personal scale of 1-5, I give it a 4.5. Simply put, it was good.
The stew was almost as good as I’ve had. My wife raved on and on about it. I told her she could rank it, and she began by giving it a 5! I talked her down a little, because it’s hard to beat Mrs. Gayle’s stew, which is the only perfect 5 I’ve ever had, so she conceded and gave it a 4.5. I probably would have given it a 4.25, but that’s being picky. It was a stewy stew, mixed well and very consistent. I could have eaten more, given the chance.
I was also very impressed with the slaw. Slaw, when done right, can really compliment a bbq meal. This slaw was done well. It wasn’t runny, nor was it too thick. I’ll judge their slaw on a comparative basis- though it wasn’t as good as their ‘que nor their stew, it was as good as any slaw I can remember at a bbq joint. That said, I’ll gladly give their stew a 4.75, a really strong rating! It was the perfect complement to a sandwich, stew and tea.
After demolishing my plate and cleaning up my wife’s, our gracious host brought out the banana pudding. I am here to tell you, that was possibly the best banana pudding I have ever had (sorry, grandma.) You could tell that this gentlemen’s mother puts a little extra love and care into her desserts. It was simply outstanding. I rarely give out a perfect rating for anything, but this fine lady deserves a 5 of 5 for her banana pudding. If you are ever in the area, even if you’re not hungry, do yourself a favor and stop in for a bowl of her banana pudding. You’ll thank me later. I could go on and on about how good her pudding was, but you get the point.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable visit to a quaint little barbecue joint in rural South Georgia. The atmosphere was excellent, exactly what you envision when thinking about a small ‘cue joint in rural Georgia. Small block building, family run business, a dozen tables inside, it was ideal. Smoakies gets my overwhelming approval, and I strongly encourage you to make a stop by if you’re ever outside of Cordele. It’s not 2 miles away from I-75, Exit 102, so you don’t have to travel too far off the beaten path. However, it seems as if you’re in the middle of nowhere when you arrive. The service was perfect, and you could tell without a doubt that you were in the South. I can’t wait for my next chance to stop at Smoakies Bar-B-Que. Do yourself the favor and drop in when you can.