Although the Annapolis Smokehouse and Tavern is a relatively new bar and restaurant, it has already established itself as somewhat of a neighborhood bar with many loyal patrons. This was evident on a recent Thursday Happy Hour when I entered to a crowded bar filled with lively conversations and greetings. It seemed there were a number of groups who knew each other, perhaps co-workers or just pals who meet here regularly after work to enjoy the casual ambiance and good food. The feel was extremely friendly and although I came in alone, I was soon a part of conversations with several individuals and groups near me.

One thing that got this conversation among strangers going was when my first appetizer arrived. It seemed to create quite a stir as several around me asked “What is that?” and one said, “Now we’re all going to watch you eat that and give a play by play description.”  I had ordered the BBQ Tamale which is described as “a poblano and cheese stuffed tamale topped with smoky tomato salsa and sour cream.” You then choose brisket, pork or chicken to top it. It is served on a corn husk, which I believe is what caused the stir as perhaps my new friends thought I was going to eat that! One person commented that the dish looked like a boat! (Apparently they don’t eat Mexican food as often as I do or they would know the husk is NOT part of the appetizer.) I chose the brisket, which was so tender it literally fell apart at the touch of the fork. This was served with a variety of barbecue sauces. The cheese stuffed tamale was delicious and is an appetizer to order again.

When having BBQ of any kind, for me, beer is the natural accompaniment. The beer for me tonight was Oskar Blues Brews’ Old Chub. This is a Scottish strong ale that is a powerful 8% ABV. This flavorful ale is described on the Oskar Blues’ website as being brewed with malted barley and specialty grains with some beechwood smoked malt. It also has cocoa, coffee and smoke flavors. Although dark, it is not as heavy as most dark beers containing cocoa and coffee and it would have been easy to enjoy a second. However, I didn’t want to UBER and also didn’t want to drive after two strong ales.

The Annapolis Smokehouse and TavernThe Smokehouse has seven regular beers on tap with a rotating Seasonal Selection and a “Draft of the Moment.” There are also a number of bottled and canned beers and ciders.

I also ordered the Chipotle Hummus which was served with a huge plate of colorful vegetables, crackers and pita points. I ended up having this boxed up for an excellent work lunch the following day. I wish I had the motivation to prepare such a healthy meal for lunch daily….but I don’t!

I belong to a Meet up group which does a number of activities in the area, including hiking at Quiet Waters Park, next to the shopping center where the Smokehouse is located, and biking in the Bay Ridge community which is not far. The Smokehouse is always our “go to” place following each of these weekend events. This works out great since the Smokehouse has happy hour daily from 3-7 p.m.

The most popular items for this crowd are the locally famous chicken wings and the pulled pork.  The chicken wings are available in 7(!) different sauces: Kansas City, Spicy Old Bay, Carolina Mustard, Korean, White Sauce, and my two favorites Bourbon Cherry and Fire.

The Pulled Pork is one of the signature “Smoked Classic” sandwiches served here, the others being Pulled Chicken and Texas brisket. According to the menu, these are smoked over pecan wood and are dry rubbed. The sandwiches are topped with coleslaw and served with wonderful homemade potato chips. As often as I tell myself I’m only going to eat half the chips, more often than not, I find myself finishing them all. For lighter fare, these meats also can be served atop a large salad.

On this visit when I first arrived, the crowd seemed to be more of a middle aged group, but later several young-enough-to-be-carded groups came in and a few “old salt” sailor looking types arrived. All seemed to blend easily, which I find typical in Annapolis.

Whether you are meeting friends or arriving alone, I believe you will feel welcome and have a good time while enjoying your beer or cocktail of choice and some delicious barbecue.

Happy Hour at the Smokehouse includes two dollars off draft beer, domestic beer for $2.25, and $3 house wines and rail drinks. The HH bar food specials change daily, so ask your bartender or server.

Check out the Annapolis Smokehouse and Tavern at 107 Hillsmere Drive, Annapolis in the Bay Ridge Shopping Center across from Quiet Waters Park.