New barbecue restaurant makes a Texas-sized impression in Red River

SmokeHouse co-proprietor Cary Thompson changes out his smoker. He cooks his barbecue for more than 20 hours. (Photo by Jesse Moya, The Taos News)

Venture off the main drag of Red River and onto Pioneer Road, and you might be drawn in by the powerful aroma coming from SmokeHouse, a restaurant established in June 2017 by Red River residents Cary Thompson and Sadie Kelley.

“We do everything barbecue,” said Thompson, who has lived in Red River for 32 years, where he used to manage the Pit Stop food stand outside the go-kart track on Red River’s main street.

SmokeHouse, which shares a building with Black Mountain Lodge and Playhouse, a roller skating rink and arcade, is across the street from Red River’s ski lift. Picnic tables with festive red umbrellas also provide outdoor seating.

The restaurant’s mottos are “Slow and Low” and “Smoked to Perfection.” These appear to be well-earned slogans by the looks and smells of a 10-foot-tall smoker that sits outside the restaurant, where Thompson cooks up to $300 worth of meat at a time for more than 20 hours.

“I use a family secret,” Thompson said. “Once it goes into the oven, I use a beer-based liquid.”

The restaurant offers an array of smoked meals, from pulled pork to prime rib, even smoked meatloaf – all of which are menu items that have proved to be popular. The menu also offers cheeseburgers, sausage, pork chops, chicken and appetizers.

“The other day, six briskets lasted me two days,” Thompson said. “We’re killing it so far as being open three weeks.”

The restaurant also boasts daily specials, which can include the likes of breaded chicken-fried steak, all-you-can-eat spaghetti, grilled shrimp skewers with rice and smoked prime rib.

So far, there have been many glowing online reviews for the restaurant. A TripAdvisor reviewer from Fort Worth, Texas, left a review titled, “Best BBQ in Texas… in RR New Mexico?!?”

Other reviewers have called it “Red River’s best new secret.” One reviewer added, “I’ll take a gallon of BBQ sauce to go.”

While some Yelp reviewers have complained of slow service or orders that didn’t meet their expectations, Thompson responds to each review, often acknowledging that the restaurant, having just opened, is still a work in progress.

Thompson has also applied for a license to serve beer and wine. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to the offseason, from mid-October to mid-November, when he’ll get to take a break from his grueling 14-hour, seven-days-a-week schedule made necessary by his lengthy cooking process.

“Everything we make is fresh,” Thompson said, explaining that he sometimes finds himself out in the middle of the night adjusting the meat on the smoker to keep pace with demand. “I’m still cooking in the kitchen,” he added.

SmokeHouse is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m daily and can be found at 305 Pioneer Road, Red River, New Mexico.

The interior of SmokeHouse’s smoker, barbecue included. (Photo by Jesse Moya, The Taos News)
A sampler of SmokeHouse’s various barbecued meats, including sausage, chicken, pulled pork and meatloaf. (Photo by Jesse Moya, The Taos News)
SmokeHouse co-proprietor Cary Thompson. (Photo by Jesse Moya, The Taos News)