Austin, Houston and Dallas may have established reputations as serious Texas barbecue destinations, but San Antonio is only beginning to gain recognition for its contributions to one of the Lone Star State’s most revered culinary traditions.
While 2M pitmaster Esaul Ramos recently snagged a James Beard Award nomination for “Best Chef-Texas”, the accolades for SA barbecue have been few and far between. So it’s exciting to see a new talent like pitmaster Alex March of Alamo Smoke BBQ add his voice to the city’s burgeoning BBQ culture.
At Alamo Smoke BBQ, a newcomer to the St. Mary’s Strip dining scene, March offers a small yet diverse selection of smoked meats and barbecue classics.
“There’s been an explosion of barbecue joints in San Antonio within the last few years — suddenly everybody wants to do fucking barbecue,” March said. “But this is what I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Rather than attempt to please everyone, the restaurant focuses on doing a few things well. Alamo Smoke’s signature brisket — smoked over pecan, mesquite and oak for 24 hours onsite — offers a uniquely flavorful approach to the Texas classic, appearing on a variety of plates, inventive pizzas, nachos, sandwiches and loaded fries.
Inspired by Henry “Ray” March, his late barbecue-loving father who developed the idea for Alamo Smoke in the 1980s, the younger March oversees a group of dedicated pits that serve up smoked brisket, flavorful Polish sausage and evolving pork specials.
In the kitchen, a small crew works on dishes including a sweet-and-spicy pork pizza, topped with red sauce, pork, serrano pepper and balsamic drizzle, and the Holy Schmitt sandwich, which layers brisket, Swiss cheese, onion and homemade sauerkraut on rye bread.
Beyond the meaty main courses, the crew delivers on sides and sweets including cornbread muffins, mashed sweet potatoes and the house funnel cakes, drizzled with chocolate and served with a strawberry compote.
An industry veteran with decades of work experience in local restaurants, bakeries and food trucks, March plans to expand Alamo Smoke’s menu with a mix of sweet and savory plates and a new breakfast service with roast coffee and pastries baked in-house.
“A lot of what we’re doing is really simple. We’re a smokehouse that also does barbecue, and we’ll be growing to offer more specials and longer hours,” he said. “What really matters is that it’s good.”
Though Alamo Smoke sits on a property spanning nearly a half-acre, the restaurant is currently limited to outdoor seating with picnic tables and an oversized screen to watch Spurs games. The menu is small, and the libations are BYOB. However, in coming months, patrons can expect to see the restaurant broaden its food offerings, install a shade canopy and secure a beer and wine license.
March has also teamed with bar manager Michael Miller to transform an old house onsite into a new drinking spot. Miller, who previously worked at the now closed Periphery in Monte Vista, will create a drink menu that highlights dozens of craft beers and an extensive wine list.
Alamo Smoke, 358 E. Craig Place, is open from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., Tuesday through Sunday.
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