Smolik’s Smokehouse

501 E San Patricio Ave
Mathis, TX 77954

Phone: (361) 547-5494
Hours: M 9-2, Tue-Thur 9-7, F-Sat 9-8
Website: www.smolikssmokehouse.com
Twitter: @SmoliksKG
Facebook: www.facebook.com/smolikssmokehouse

Opened 1989
Pitmaster Mike Smolik
Method Gas-fired Rotisserie with Mesquite

TMBBQ Rating: 3.25

TMBBQ Buzz

Comments from our joint finder app.
Brisket is really good and tender! Has great smoky flavor. This place also has a butcher!
Nathaniel Cox @ Vincek’s Smokehouse, 2014-08-31 18:30:40
The hunt for the best barbecue continues with the second joint today. This is a small victory as I have always wanted to hit more than one restaurant on the Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ establishments in a single day. Billy's Old Fashion Barbecue happens to be number 9. I have a hair less than four years to visit the other 41 before the list is updated. I have my work cut out for me as these places are as far at 500 miles from home. I wasn't hungry when we rolled into Jasper, but I was here to eat barbecue. I knew I wanted brisket and when we found the dilapidated restaurant, I knew we were going to experience some magic. I chose the sliced brisket sandwich. I wasn't expecting this monstrosity as it was quite large. Topped with pickles and onions, this sauce soaked sandwich was perfect. I only wish I had ordered the sauce on the side. The sauce was decent, but I came for the meat. The sliced brisket was very nice. It was juicy and the fat was rendered beautifully. It was a bit toothsome, but it certainly wasn't tough. I had forgotten to ask for untrimmed meat, so I was pleased when I saw that the crusty bark was intact. The meat had a mild flavor. Not too much smoke, and it wasn't overpowered with seasoning. It was a simple, beefy masterpiece. At only 2 1/2 hours from home, I can see myself loading up the family for a nice meaty adventure. This is easily a 4.0/5.0. Well done, Texas Monthly. This BBQ doesn't disappoint.
Theodore Luoma @ Billy’s Old Fashion BBQ, 2014-08-31 01:12:51
It has been a few months since I was able to hunt for some good Texas BBQ. It is a bit of a tradition that my oldest daughter, Alli, and I enjoy. I'm not a hunter, so we aren't likely to go kill deer as we spend time together, but we have our own game we like to track down. We decided to have lunch at the Hitch-N-Post in Livingston, TX. It's 3 1/2 hours from home so we had time to work up an appetite. We both ordered untrimmed fatty brisket which in my estimation, is the best tasting meat. I usually try the sausage as well, but we are planning an early supper at another BBQ place and I don't want to gorge myself. The brisket, though cooked, could probably have used another four hours in the smoker to completely render the fat and make the meat fork tender. I actually had to use a knife to cut the meat. There was a beautiful smoke ring and a decent crust, but I was hoping for a denser crust. Then again, this ain't Lockhart. The beans were good, but they were punched up canned beans. The potato salad probably came from Brookshire Brothers, but I came for the meat. The sides are just a bonus. Apparently, the proprietor has a policy to give free cake to first time customers. He was a really nice BBQ enthusiast as he asked if I had tried Snow's in Lexington. Then he started showing me pictures of BBQ joints on his phone. The ambience was a schlockfest with old tricycles dangling from the ceiling and tiki umbrellas reminiscent of Gilligan's Island. It was enjoyable soaking it in while I soaked up sauce with my bread. The food was good. I would rate it a 3.0/5.0, but with the outstanding service and friendly atmosphere, I rate it a solid 3.5. Hitch-N-Post is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Theodore Luoma @ Hitch-N-Post BBQ, 2014-08-30 18:24:06
It has been a few months since I was able to hunt for some good Texas BBQ. It is a bit of a tradition that my oldest daughter, Alli, and I enjoy. I'm not a hunter, so we aren't likely to go kill deer as we spend time together, but we have our own game we like to track down. We decided to have lunch at the Hitch-N-Post in Livingston, TX. It's 3 1/2 hours from home so we had time to work up an appetite. We both ordered untrimmed fatty brisket which in my estimation, is the best tasting meat. I usually try the sausage as well, but we are planning an early supper at another BBQ place and I don't want to gorge myself. The brisket, though cooked, could probably have used another four hours in the smoker to completely render the fat and make the meat fork tender. I actually had to use a knife to cut the meat. There was a beautiful smoke ring and a decent crust, but I was hoping for a denser crust. Then again, this ain't Lockhart. The beans were good, but they were punched up canned beans. The potato salad probably came from Brookshire Brothers, but I came for the meat. The sides are just a bonus. Apparently, the proprietor has a policy to give free cake to first time customers. He was a really nice BBQ enthusiast as he asked if I had tried Snow's in Lexington. Then he started showing me pictures of BBQ joints on his phone. The ambience was a schlockfest with old tricycles dangling from the ceiling and tiki umbrellas reminiscent of Gilligan's Island. It was enjoyable soaking it in while I soaked up sauce with my bread. The food was good. I would rate it a 3.0/5.0, but with the outstanding service and friendly atmosphere, I rate it a solid 3.5. Hitch-N-Post is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Theodore Luoma @ Hitch-N-Post BBQ, 2014-08-30 18:24:05
Third in line pound of lean got two ends and a sausage PERFECTION worth the drive ft worth good food good folks
doug_wallace @ Louie Mueller Barbecue, 2014-08-30 15:38:00
Loved that there was no wait unlike that other place on East 6th. Fatty brisket was as advertised. Pepper on crust was perfect. Jalapeño sausage was okay. Loved the cheesy squash - my new favorite side. No beef ribs today sadly. Drank the BBQ sauce too; very good stuff.
Rahul Yaratha @ John Mueller Meat Co., 2014-08-29 16:44:19
Brisket was moist, but tough. Needed more smoke. Spare ribs were ok.
mrb @ Rudy’s Bar-B-Q, 2014-08-27 02:53:29
Stopped at Rudy's at Leon Springs. Not good. Brisket was moist but tough. Ribs were fair.
mrb @ , 2014-08-27 02:47:40
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Review

August 20, 2013

Always seeking a route away from the interstate, I found myself driving the back way into Mathis, Texas on FM 666. When I saw that the state had failed to skip that number when naming farm-to-market roads I just had to take it. It was a humorous detour until I was a few miles south of town and smoke covered the road. There was a grass fire and the smoke was so thick I could barely see the road. Safely on the other side I saw a firetruck screaming toward the scene. There was no need to call 9-1-1, but I kept my eye on the rearview for any glimpse of the Devil.

The Market

The original Smolik’s building in Karnes City

This thirty-eight mile stretch of South Texas asphalt ends in Mathis where it changes names to San Patricio Avenue. Along that street in the middle of town is Smolik’s Smokehouse. Owner Gail Smolik says the town doesn’t embrace the ominous number of the road that connects them to towns like Bishop and Banquette (pronounced Ban-ketty). Gail and her husband Mike came back here to her hometown of Mathis to open this location of Smolik’s in 1989. It was the southern most outpost of the the Smolik’s family chain that started in 1928* with the opening of the first Smolik’s in Karnes City by William H. Smolik**. His son George took over the original location, but sold it in 1992. Another son Erwin “Big John” Smolik branched out to Kenedy. That location closed upon Big John’s death in 2011. The Smolik’s in Cuero was started by the other son Bill Smolik. After Bill passed in 2007 his son David took over, and it’s still operated by David’s wife Camille.

Smolik's 01

 

Mike Smolik is also Bill’s son, and he’s going strong here in Mathis. There are plans for second Smolik’s location to open later this year out closer to the interstate. Gail says the walls will be decorated with murals showing the history of Mathis and of the Smolik family. A big part of that history revolves around the family’s Czech sausage recipe, and there’s a reason. It’s fantastic. Beef and pork is mixed with black pepper and plenty of garlic, then smoked over hickory. The casing have a great snap and the links are ridiculously juicy without being oily. Over a century of sausage makers in the family will get you results like this. When I asked the staff what in particular made this a Czech a sausage, the reply was sly. “A Czech made it.”

Smolik's 04

Also smoked over hickory is the excellent jerky found in the meat case. In fact there are two sides to the joint. To the right of the register is the barbecue line, and on the left is a whole case of meats, sausages, jerky and even house made kolaches.

Smolik's 03

The rest of the menu is smoked in a Southern Pride with mesquite. The brisket was average at best. It was smoky, but dry and undercooked. The pork spare ribs are a much better option. A well formed bark has some sweetness to it while the meat beneath is nice and tender. Paired with a side of their meaty stewed cabbage, these would make a great meal on their own. A special of beef ribs caught my eye, but at $12.50 for the plate I assumed that meant beef back ribs. Instead, I got the last giant beef short rib of the day. That’s quite a value. The meat had a great blend of simple seasoning and smoke. It would have been a great beef rib if left in the smoker for another couple of hours. It was impossible to pull apart and I needed all of my jaw strength to cut through the unrendered collagen. I brought it home and simmered it with beer and chili powder for a few hours to make one heck of a leftover Frito pie.

Smolik's 02

The Smoliks are no doubt an important family in the history of Texas barbecue. Mike and Gail are carrying on those Czech traditions with pride, but the next generation is a question mark. They all have professions outside of barbecue, but Gail Smolik has hope. The grandchildren, she said, have shown some interest. They’re still very young, but hopefully those murals at the new place will teach them the importance of their family’s traditions. That sausage recipe is too good to squander.

*Gail Smolik noted that the year 1918 had been reported often for the opening of the first Smolik’s in Karnes City, but she’s certain that the original store opened in 1928. Curiously, their website also uses the 1918 date.

** See Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue for more family history and the family sauce recipe.

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