Location: Bloomington, Indiana
If you’ve never been to Smokin’ Jack’s before, it’s important to remember seven words - “don’t judge a book by its cover.” From the outside, the restaurant isn’t the most visually appealing establishment. In my opinion though, the character of a restaurant is much more important. Smokin’ Jack’s has a reputation as a hometown favorite. From the perspective of a college student, it isn’t your “typical college town restaurant.” Most of the customers walking in the doors are not college students, but I think this adds to the charm of the place. Smokin’ Jack’s is one of those classic hole-in-the-wall establishments that may be hard to find, but offers some of the best food in town. I would put Smokin’ Jack’s in an elite group of hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Bloomington including the Azteca Market, Lucky Express, and Wee Willie’s (Note: be on the lookout for future blog posts about these places!).
During my visit to Smokin’ Jack’s this weekend, I was accompanied with two of my roommates. The special for the day was a pulled pork sandwich with one side for $6. I ordered the special with macaroni and cheese as the side and my roommates ordered a full rack of ribs to share, along with a side of potato salad and green beans. I’ve had the ribs at Smokin’ Jack’s before, and they are amazing, but I was equally impressed with the pulled pork sandwich. It comes with pickles and onion (I think the pickles are a great compliment, however I don’t really care for the onion) and the macaroni was a perfect side for the sandwich. My roommates said they would prefer baby back ribs to the type of ribs Smokin’ Jacks has to offer because baby back ribs are smaller and not as tender, but it’s all a matter of personal preference!
In summary, I think Smokin’ Jacks is a place all residents of Bloomington should try at least once in their life. The food is great, the staff is friendly, and its a nice change of pace from most restaurants near campus. If you find yourself at Smokin’ Jacks, I would recommend the ribs or the pulled pork. But before you walk in, just remember - “don’t judge a book by its cover.”