Lunchtime in Louisville. Sometimes, I’m (sadly) so busy that I’m looking for convenience as much as quality. If I can figure out my neighborhood in a strange city, I turn to Urbanspoon to see what’s recommended. I was staying between the airport and the University of Louisville and with little time for lunch, I read about an eccentric place minutes from my hotel. That’s how I found Smoketown USA. It’s a restaurant, but it’s also a store. Basically everything is for sale: the chair you’re in, the table you’re at, the salt and pepper shakers you’re using. Nothing matches, and that’s part of the charm of eating inside a yard sale.
But I’m here for the food. Liza’s a kind woman who recommends the ribs. What portion? The rib basket ($8.95) will do, she says. It comes with three ribs (eyeing the half and full slabs on the menu, I wonder if that will be enough), two sides, and cornbread (jalapeno, thanks). No baked beans here, but Tex-Mex pintos are find. Liza then says I’ve got to try the mixed greens, and brings me a small dish. They’re great, and include black-eyed peas and tomatoes.
As my plate arrives and I pull out my camera to shoot some photos, the owner walks in and notices me, saying, “You one of those food writers? I’m Eric Gould, the redneck Jewish massage therapist.” Interesting character, as you can guess. He chats with me while I’m eating, and notices I’m having a rough time with one of the ribs. “Too bad you got a tough one,” he says, but doesn’t offer to replace it. Luckily, after a couple of bites it got better – much better: succulent, tender, and very meaty. I’m happy. Eric says he wants to franchise the business and then sell in ten years. Stick to the “stick-to-your-ribs” ribs, and he’s got a chance.