As a native Texan, my standards for barbecue are high. Smokin Steve's is not a Texas barbecue joint--it calls itself a Southern-style barbecue, California and Cajun cuisine restaurant. I had to try to judge the food on its own merits instead of comparing it to what I'm used to.
The two meats I tried were outstanding for their rich, smoky flavor and moist tenderness. Another standout at Smokin Steve's is the barbecue sauce. They have five different flavors: sweet and bold, raspberry, chipotle, mustard, and vinegar. The meat stands firmly on its own without sauce, however.
I do have two complaints that, for me, overshadow the high quality of the meat. The prices seem very high for the amount of meat you get, but maybe I have misconceptions about the amount of work that goes into good smoked barbecue. Also, the side dishes are mediocre. At a true Southern restaurant, the side dishes are an essential part of the meal, but at Smokin' Steves, they seem like cheap fillers that are trying to justify the high prices.
The mac and cheese was bland--at a minimum, it needed salt, but what it really needed was more flavorful cheese. The dinner roll was also lackluster--it seemed like something I could get out of a plastic package from the grocery store. The beans, typically my favorite barbecue side dish, were the best of the sides I tried, but still nothing special.
If I go back to Smokin' Steves, I'll stick to the meat. In fact, I might buy it in bulk--if you order a larger quantity of meat, like 5 lbs. or more, the price per pound drops significantly for takeout orders.
Smokin Steve's BBQ Joint
1407 East Los Angeles Avenue
Simi Valley, CA 93065
Smokin Steve's website
Smokin Steve's menu
Tuesday through Thursday; Sunday, 11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11:00 am - 9:00 pm