People lovetheir barbecue, even here in California, a state that doesn’t have the reputation or history other parts of the country have. Conversely, because there isn’t a specific style attached to California the way there is to say, Kansas City, cooks have a greater sense of freedom to experiment with ingredients and technique. Mark Brown, a former techie and competitive barbecuer, is now co-owner of the recently opened Smoke ‘N Wings smokehouse. Though this is his first restaurant venture, barbecuing has been a longtime hobby of his.

“I steal from the best,” Brown explains, referring to his lack of commitment to one specific regional barbecue style. His pork is done Georgian style, while his brisket is more Texas style, and the sweet, tangy and spicy sauce is in a style that’s a little bit of everything.

Brown was originally brought on as a consultant back when Smoke ‘N Wings was called Wings Dip about six months ago. Due to a family emergency, the restaurant was open only a short time, recently reopening as Smoke ‘N Wings, with Brown at the helm.

The menu’s a little different than it was in the Wings Dip days: no more steak sandwiches and soul food. The menu has been trimmed down to feature barbecue and wings exclusively.

Smoke N’ Wings is a tiny restaurant with a handful of tables and an ultra-casual vibe. When I went in, I wanted to get a good sense of their different meats, so I tried the Smoked Meat Combo, which comes with three different meats, a cornbread muffin and one side for $15.95. I chose the tri-tip, brisket and pulled pork.

The meat was succulent, though not rich in flavor. The brisket was my personal favorite. All of the meats tasted better once I dipped them in the in-house barbecue sauce. The complexities of flavors in the sauce complement the basic, juicy flavors of the meat.

The wings are baked in an oven at a high temperature for five minutes. This keeps the chicken from shrinking, so the wings are a little bigger than normal. They are given a light tempura batter and quick-fried in oil, then tossed in their flavors before being finished off in a wok. I chose the in-house specialty of garlic and butter. A six piece is $7.95. Ten pieces are $12.49. These were some of the best wings I’d ever had. They come with fries. The wings and fries share the same space on the plate, so there’s plenty of garlic and butter on the fries, which is a good thing.

Smoke ‘N Wings also serves sandwiches. I had a brisket sandwich for $8.95. That brisket was even better as a sandwich.

Smoke ‘N Wings
916 Meridian Ave., San Jose,  408.298.2326