420 Smokehouse – it’s not what you think. They might have a misleading name, but the only smoke coming out of here is from the on-site log-burning smoker. Located in the heart of Cabbagetown, 420 Smokehouse offers authentic, marinated-for-days, slow-smoked BBQ. They boast a secret recipe of dry spices that sets their rub above their competitors.
Remarkably cozy, the 420 has wood tables throughout, with booth seating along their Parliament street window sporting colourful embroidered pillows. A large bar in the center is the focus of the room, next to the chalkboard menu demonstrating the day’s specials. The eclectic decor is simultaneously confusing and enchanting, like the framed photo on the wall of an elephant trunk photobombing a man on the street. Another showcases different types of fish. On the afternoon that I visited, 80’s pop music played throughout the mostly empty room.
The menu consists of chicken, ribs, sandwiches, and seafood. Highlights like pulled pork nachos and macaroni smoked cheese are must-try appetizers. The smoked meat sandwich is what inspired 420’s creation and may be the best you can get west of Montreal. To drink they have a few beers on tap like Big Rock Chocolate Stout, Wellington Dark Ale and Trailhead Lager, and Amsterdam Blonde and Big Wheel. They also include a small selection of tall boys (Big Rig and Side Launch Wheat) and red and white wines ($6.75/glass to $39.50/bottle).
The smoked chicken dinner I ordered (qtr $12, half $17) had dark, crispy skin and juicy insides. It is served with kale salad and aligot, a combination of mashed potatoes and cheese. The sautéed kale is on a bed of very caramelized, sweet onions and cranberry compote. Their 420 burger ($14) was a mouth-watering combination of house-cured bacon and smoked cheddar on an 8-ounce lightly smoked patty, soft bun and a side of fries or salad.
I would return for their dessert alone. The made-from-scratch ‘turtle’ cheesecake ($7) was a giant, mouth-watering slab sprinkled with of nuts. There was a custard layer that glued the topping to the creamy base. The smiling woman who served it to me said she made it in-house earlier that day.
If you find yourself in Cabbagetown, the 420 Smokehouse is well worth a visit. Located just a cool 20 minute walk away from Yonge and Dundas square, escaping the bustling core and chain restaurants to eat some BBQ in a comfortable, family-owned hideaway will be one of your better ideas.
*Images and text originally written by Erika Simon for torontoism.com