5 fangs: Howl at the Moon
4 fangs: Slam Dunk
3 fangs: Roof-Riding Good
2 fangs: Teen Wolf Too
1 fang: Worse than Tony’s Liquor
Slinging ’cue inside a former Gulfport Boulevard residence, Smokin’ J’s is a quick trip from our wolf den in downtown St. Pete. The restaurant’s casual, no-frills interior reflects what diners likely expect of a Southern barbecue joint, where the emphasis is less on urban-chic decor and more on the quality of the grub. However, the taxidermy hanging on the walls is slightly nerve-racking. We wonder whether being sent here is an elaborate trap, and if Smokin’ J’s foresees smoked werewolf limbs as its New Year’s special.
The team working the grill and counter seem to enjoy our visit, sharing a few laughs at our expense. But hey, we’re used to it. It’s not every day you meet a real-life werewolf, let alone four (including the one who inspired the ’80s movie classic Teen Wolf). Our orders are served up remarkably quick. Trays of rib racks, chicken and pulled pork are among the fare we feast on, and after a weekend of wild shows on the road, Smokin’ J’s hits all the right spots.
Rain-Wolf is probably the only vegetarian werewolf in the world. He goes straight for the baked mac and cheese, which is wonderfully warm and gooey, unlike the dried-out stuff you find at other spots. The jalapeño corn muffins pair well with the noodles’ cheesy goodness, and everything else we wolf down. They have just the right amount of peppery kick and corny sweetness to top off our meal.
Thankfully, no werewolves were harmed in the making of this review. Smokin’ J’s lets us leave with our lives; no wolf traps sprung this time. And we’ll definitely be back. They must be counting on it.